Opening up a new mining frontier – Future Minerals Forum 2022 day one round-up

Saudi Arabia today opened a new chapter for the global mining industry as the first ever Future Minerals Forum kicked off in Riyadh, with close to 4,000 delegates in attendance from Saudi Arabia and around the world.

The Forum aims to connect global policy-makers with investors and business leaders across the mining value chain, while highlighting this imperative opportunity to develop a new mining frontier with Saudi Arabia sitting perfectly at the intersection of Europe, Africa and Asia.

RGN was honoured to receive an invite to this landmark event as a media partner, providing live coverage from the opulence of the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center. Below is our round-up from day one.

Saudi Arabia to triple mining GDP by 2030

In the opening remarks, H.E. Bandar bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef, Minister of Industry & Mineral Resources for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, affirmed to the 1,000 strong audience in the plenary theatre the Kingdom’s plans to strengthen the third pillar of the national industry; mining.

“We have set ambitious targets to raise the mining sector’s contribution to the national GDP from $17 billion to $64 billion by 2030,” he proclaimed. H.E also highlighted the significant and promising potential for mineral exploration and mine development in the Middle East, West and central Asia and Africa, underscoring the Kingdom’s strategic geographical position at the centre of this region.

Bristow emphasises copper’s central role for energy transition

Never one to shy away from the big issues, Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow called for the industry to be courageous and bold in its pursuit of sustainably produced metals around the world, particularly copper.

“The markets want you to invest in lithium, cobalt etc. But we know that battery technologies won’t be the final solution for our energy needs” he said. “Copper is such a strategic metal. No matter what the future looks like, we’ll need it”

“The future of mining will be the courageous people prepared to take mining in a responsible way to this region [the Middle East and Africa],” he continued. “The Arabian-Nubian shield is such an interesting geological address. It’s a perfect place to go exploring.”

An industry that does good not just well

In a sustainability keynote panel, H.E. Khalid Al Mudaifer, Saudi Arabia’s Vice-Minister for Mining Affairs, told the audience how mining can contribute to a vibrant society in the Kingdom. “We have a once upon a lifetime opportunity to make this critical industry fit for purpose. We can do good with mining and still make a good business,” he proclaimed.

The sentiment was echoed by H.E’s fellow panellists, including ICMM boss Rohitesh Dhawan. “Members of ICMM have made a commitment to not mine in world heritage sites. This is an example of how the industry ensures that nature isn’t taken as collateral damage in the pursuit of critical minerals.”

Check back to RGN tomorrow for a round-up of Future Minerals Forum day two.