Minerals indispensable for transition to renewable energy; Saudi’s Vice Minister

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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Minerals Production
Representational Image | Image Courtesy: Mike van Schoonderwalt @ Pexels

Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Mr. Khalid Saleh Al-Mudaifer has emphasised that minerals are indispensable to the energy change to renewables.

The Vice Minister made this statement during the Mines and Money conference in London. Decarbonization – the net-zero transition – cannot happen without minerals and metals, the Vice Minister remarked.

Mr. Al-Mudaifer pointed out that this requires us to scale up discoveries and we need to scale up production. According to the World Bank, the production of minerals such as graphite, lithium, cobalt and copper will need to increase by 500 percent by 2050 to meet future demand for clean energy technologies.

International delegates and international mining investors who attended the conference heard Saudi Arabia’s argument that the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables is opening the path for it to become a global leader in the innovative and sustainable production of minerals and metals, especially given that a vast, new, and largely untapped minerals super-region is emerging, stretching from Africa to central Asia.

The World Bank estimated that to achieve a ‘below 2°C increase’ future more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals are required for the necessary wind, solar and geothermal power, and energy storage.

The Vice Minister highlighted the advances that Saudi Arabia has already made in its mining industry. Mr. Al-Mudaifer further noted that the significant potential for KSA largely lies in precious and base metals including gold, zinc, copper, and silver in addition to a few speciality metals such as niobium and tantalum.

In terms of phosphate fertilizer production alone, Mr. Al-Mudaifer remarked that the Kingdom has already become the world leader. Estimates for total phosphate reserves vary from approximately 2.3 billion to almost 7.3 billion tons. The total in-situ value of this phosphate resource is estimated between $102.4 billion and $321 billion.

Mr. Al-Mudaifer further pointed to important projects such as the Kingdom’s work in hydrogen, with KSA creating the largest green hydrogen plant in the world. Earlier this year, it announced a $5 billion project that from a standing start is expected to produce up to 250,000 tons, by 2026.

The Vice Minister concluded his speech by highlighting the recent successes of KSA minerals production, saying that Saudi Arabia has helped improve global food security by developing an integrated phosphate fertilizer value chain.

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