5 April 2023

Fresh prospects for Australian mining equipment, technology and services (METS) in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 identifies mining as a key component of the Kingdom’s industry strategy. This will open major opportunities for Australian companies in the mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.

The Middle Eastern country has a vast endowment of mineral resources, estimated to be worth US$1.3 trillion. During the next decade, Saudi Arabia is aiming to become a major new player in the global mining sector.

Saudi Arabia has already launched one of the world’s largest geophysical and geochemical surveys to collect critical and valuable data. This covers 600,000km2 and includes a crystalline rock formation called the Arabian-Nubian Shield, which straddles the Red Sea.

A major new mining industry

Saudi Vision 2030 outlines ambitious plans to raise the value of mining operations. When launched in 2016, the direct and indirect contribution of the mining sector to the Kingdom’s GDP was estimated at approximately SAR 80bn (A$31.7bn). This equates to approximately 265,000 jobs.

Under the strategy, the mining and minerals contribution to the Saudi economy is expected to triple and its contribution to GDP is projected to reach SAR 260 billion (A$103.2bn) by 2030.

  • Saudi Arabia’s mining strategy includes a list of 38 initiatives. These initiatives aim to create a resilient mining industry built on a foundation of integrated value chains.
  • The Kingdom’s National Geological Database provides online access to 80 years of national records, including 10,000 detailed reports on mining targets and prospects.

Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) is focused on guiding growth in four key sectors: industry, mining, energy and logistics. By 2030, the program aims to stimulate private sector investments worth more than SAR 1.7 trillion. (A$ 676.7bn)

Opportunities for Australian METS

Growth in Saudi Arabia’s mining industry has already created opportunities for Australian METS companies, including in the following sectors:

  • Exploration and drilling
  • Land and air surveying
  • Mine infrastructure
  • Mineral processing
  • Mining consultancy
  • Education and training.

Austrade advisors in Saudi Arabia estimate further opportunities will emerge in 3–4 years. These include:

  • Digital technologies to improve mine productivity
  • Quality and safety solutions
  • Environmental services aimed at reducing environmental impact
  • Mine safety equipment and services.

Improved prospects for Australian businesses

Prospects for commercial operations in Saudi Arabia are improving.

Saudi Arabia’s new Mining Investment Law provides a legal framework that supports a clear, transparent process for mining license applications and approvals.

The new Saudi Mining Investment Law came into effect on 1 January 2021. The Saudi Government has begun issuing and renewing mining licenses through the Ministry mining electronic platform.

The law aims to boost the mining sector’s contribution to GDP by over SAR240 billion (A$95.2 billion), reduce imports by SAR37 billion, and create 200,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030. Key goals include:

  • A focus on good governance, transparency and clear-cut regulations
  • The creation of a well-defined licensing system
  • Boosting investor confidence
  • Improving sustainability and environmental protection
  • Compliance with health and safety regulations.

The new law also facilitates the establishment of a mining fund. This fund will provide sustainable finance for the sector, and support geological surveys and exploration programs. 

Australian businesses already engaged

Australian METS companies have already been awarded contracts associated with Saudi’s 2030 Vision. These include projects in a range of areas, including:

  • The development of the NEOM smart city in Tabuk Province
  • Battery metals for electric vehicles
  • Future minerals
  • Technologies that improve production efficiency and reduce emissions.

In January 2023, Australian businesses participated in the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh. The event focused on creating responsible and resilient supply chain. The Australian Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with the Saudi entity, Modern Chemicals Company (MCC) to develop a Technical Ammonium Nitrate (TAN) Plant in the Middle East.

Speakers at the Future Minerals Forum included representatives from BHP, Austmine, Lucid Motors, EV Metals, BHP Xplor, 3METechnology, and Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia.

Accessing the opportunity - more information

To discuss the METS opportunities in Saudi Arabia as it relates to your business, please contact: riyadh@austrade.gov.au

Businesses should be aware of and comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises that provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business behaviour in a variety of areas, consistent with applicable domestic laws. They represent a global framework for responsible business conduct covering all areas of business responsibility including disclosure, human rights, employment and industrial relations, environment, anti-corruption, competition and taxation. These Guidelines are endorsed and promoted by the Australian Government.

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