Saudi Arabia is “at the heart” of future critical mineral supply chains which are fundamental toreach net zero emissions targets, a report has said.
Saudi Arabia is integral to a region of 30 counties across the Middle East, Africa, and central Asia that has the “tremendous potential” to ensure the future of critical mineral supply chains, according to the report by the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School for Mines.
This is due to the country's industrial sectors and a vast rock formation known as the Arabian Shield, which is estimated to contain $1.3bn worth of potential minerals, it said.
Critical minerals are integral to the shift towards green energy because they are needed to make clean energy products including electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind farms.
Demand for raw materials including lithium, nickel cobalt, copper, graphite and silicon and rare earth elements are expected to increase fivefold in the next two decades, and the report estimates over 3bn tonnes of critical minerals will be needed to build the infrastructure to reach 2050 net zero targets.
Saudi Arabia’s “welcoming investment climate” has helped create a “promising” outlook for the region’s critical minerals sector, with the kingdom planing to attract $32bn of investment towards creating integrated value chains to become a “major player in global mineral production”, the report said.
Such investments are set to create 14,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, it noted.
Further research by The Future Minerals Forum said: “At the heart of the minerals crossroads is Saudi Arabia, which is central to plans to open up mining across these new frontiers, ensuring a resilient mineral supply chain for the world and developing a sustainable mineral extraction and production industry.”
It said there had been 5,000 potential sites identified across the region which could help meet “spiralling demand”, and lower supply chain risks by reducing the concentration of supply and increasing the geographic spread of mineral operations.
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