Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi today inaugurated a three-day symposium, the first of its kind, on the strategy of mining in the Kingdom, organized by the General Investments Fund in collaboration with the World Bank Group. In his speech, he said that following the first phase of the history of mining in Saudi Arabia (from the 1930s through the end of the 1950s), the directorate-general for mineral wealth was established in the early 1960s as an annex to the Ministry. This was a period of extensive exploration. The next phase, beginning in the 1990s, saw important decisions taken to amend the Mining Act and set up a corporation for geological survey. This new organization will act as a consultative body for the government in the field of mineral exploration.
Minister Al-Naimi went on to say that 21 concessions have been granted for large mining operations; another 20 for smaller mines, 17 for exploration, and 15 for surveys. The Ministry has identified some 1,270 sources of precious stones, and 1,170 sources of other valuable minerals. Investment, whether domestic or foreign, is still limited. Projects for the mining of for example phosphates, magnesium, and bauxite deposits are, however, part of the Saudi government's initiative to diversify its economic resources.