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Saudi Arabia to develop EV metals, steel projects as part of $32 bil investments


EV battery metals plant to support domestic industry

Nine projects underway to boost local production, boost exports

Lucid building its first international plant in Saudi Arabia

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  • Dania Saadi
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  • Claudia Carpenter
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Saudi Arabia is planning to develop a $2 billion EV battery metals plant and a $4 billion steel plate mill complex as part of $32 billion of investments targeting the kingdom's mining sector amid economic diversification in the world's biggest oil exporter.

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Nine projects are currently underway to increase local production and boost global exports, the minister of industry and mineral resources Bandar al-Khorayef said in a May 5 statement.

"These targeted investments represent an important 'down payment' in our efforts to move beyond exploration and extraction and into the creation of integrated value chains, a central focus of our overall mining strategy," Khorayef said in the statement. "The investments will continue to position the kingdom as a mining production and logistics hub for a region that stretches from Africa to Asia, while also supporting the transformation of our mining sector so it can achieve its potential."

The projects include a $4 billion steel plate mill complex that will produce various grades of steel plate for the shipbuilding, oil and gas, construction and defense sectors, the minister said.

Another integrated green flat steel complex will supply the automotive, food packaging, machinery and equipment, and other industrial sectors, he added.

A $2 billion EV battery metals plant will provide inputs for EV batteries, in support of the development of the electric vehicles industry in the kingdom, he said.

The investments also include several other projects, all of which are focused on metals due to the growing demand expected from the developing Saudi industrial sectors, including a fully integrated aluminum complex and base metals smelter/refinery complex for copper and other metals, the minister added.

No other details about the capacity and timeline of these projects were disclosed.

Vision 2030

The ministry is currently processing an additional 145 exploration license applications from foreign companies, Khorayef said.

Under Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 diversification plan, the kingdom aims to support promising sectors and foster their success so that they become new pillars of its economy.

In mining, Saudi Arabia is planning several structural reforms, including stimulating private sector investments by intensifying exploration, building a comprehensive database of its resources, reviewing the licensing procedures for extraction, investing in infrastructure, developing funding methods and establishing centers of excellence.

Panelists at the Future Minerals Forum held in Riyadh in January noted that Saudi Arabia could play an important role in the critical mineral supply chains, due to its reliable and lower cost energy, optimal geological location to serve different areas including Asia and Europe, welcoming investment climate and aim to diversify its industries.

Saudi Arabia has attracted some global names to its mining and industrial sector, including sustainable mobility company Lucid, which plans to build its first international plant in the country.

Lucid, which counts the Saudi sovereign wealth fund as its largest shareholder, is building the factory to assemble vehicles that will ultimately produce up to 150,000 cars per year.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to purchase over a 10-year period up to 100,000 electric vehicles, including Lucid Air and other future models, built and assembled at the company's existing Arizona factory and its future international manufacturing facility in the kingdom, it said in an April 26 statement.