Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi, in an address yesterday at a conference on mining investment organized by the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, confirmed that privatization of the Kingdom’s minerals sector will come in phases, but only after the completion of all current projects, and once new mining laws are approved by the cabinet. In the foreseeable future, he said, production of a number of minerals will exceed domestic requirements, and exports would be one area where the private sector can step in.
The Eastern Province is rich in minerals other than petroleum, and boasts 16 percent of all mining licenses issued. Saudi Arabia's mineral resources include phosphates, manganese, iron, nickel, titanium, silica and calcium carbonate. The Saudi Geological Survey Commission recently established a National Data Base on the Saudi Mining Industry, and is currently carrying out a mining development program aimed at developing the Kingdom's mineral resources while preserving the environment from the adverse impacts of mining.
Meanwhile Minister Al-Naimi commented that the rapid fluctuation in oil prices was coming to an end and prices were stabilizing, and reiterated the Kingdom’s concern for moderation in global oil prices and stability in the market.