1997 News Story

Rapid growth predicted for mining sector

The Ministry of Planning reports that the mining sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to grow faster than any other sector during the period of the current sixth five-year development plan (1995-99), with an annual growth rate of 9 percent.   Precious metals are expected to show a growth rate of 40 percent over the five-year period, with new mines at Al-Amar, Al-Hajar, and Hamdhah, and increased efficiency in existing mines. The net production of gold, all of which is sold to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), amounted to some 670,000 ounces between 1988 and 1992, from the ancient mine at Al-Dhahab, and recent Sukhaybarat Mine, with new mines added to these.  Base metals are also being exploited, for example copper and zinc, and new investment opportunities are continually being created by the completion of feasibility studies.  In the area of quarrying, there is a rising demand for locally-produced construction materials in line with the ongoing trend towards import substitution.  By the end of the fifth plan, 548 permits had been granted to the private sector for extraction of such materials as sand, gravel, clay, gypsum, granite, and white marble.  The Department for Mineral Resources in the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals is focusing on the use of modern technology for exploration, with private as well as public sector companies encouraged to invest in exploitation of economically feasible mineral deposits.