Mining the Desert: Billions of Dollars Will Be Spent on Exploiting Saudi Arabia's Non-Oil Mineral Resources. If the Mining Programme Is Successful, It Could Become the Most Important Development for the Local Economy since the Discovery of Oil in the 1930s
Klaus, Oliver, MEED Middle East Economic Digest
When the government of Saudi Arabia began to make a detailed assessment of its mineral resources in the 1990s, it generated a great deal of excitement in the mining industry. Not only was the kingdom sitting on the biggest oil reserves in the world, but it now appeared that some massive deposits of metal ores and other valuable non-oil minerals were also sitting beneath the surface of the desert. A closer look at just one of these deposits, at Al-Jalamid in the north, revealed enough phosphate to sustain the local fertiliser industry for more than 100 years. Local prospectors began to dust off their tools. In 1997, Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) was set up. By 2001, the government was expecting a new mining law, enabling foreign investment in the sector, to be passed by the end of the year.
And then it all went quiet. For the last year or more, little news has emerged from the sector. The promised minerals law has taken rather longer than expected to materialise--four years longer, as it turns out. So when the president and chief executive officer of Maaden took to the podium at MEED's Eastern Province conference in early March, he had the audience's full attention.
It was immediately clear that Abdallah al-Dabbagh had been busy What had been happening in the meantime, he revealed, was preparation for an integrated mining programme unmatched in size anywhere in the world. Plans to develop the …
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Publication information: Article title: Mining the Desert: Billions of Dollars Will Be Spent on Exploiting Saudi Arabia's Non-Oil Mineral Resources. If the Mining Programme Is Successful, It Could Become the Most Important Development for the Local Economy since the Discovery of Oil in the 1930s. Contributors: Klaus, Oliver - Author. Magazine title: MEED Middle East Economic Digest. Volume: 49. Issue: 11 Publication date: March 18, 2005. Page number: 4+. © 1999 MEED Middle East Economic Digest. All Rights Reserved. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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