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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is planning to auction five new mining exploration licences with copper, zinc, lead and iron deposits for local and international investors in 2023, the mining minister said on Sunday, as it diversifies the economy away from hydrocarbons.

The ministry will launch the bidding process later for the licences in Bir Umq, Jabal Idsas, Umm Hadid, Jabal Sahabiyah and Ar Ridaniyah, a statement from Bandar Al-Khorayef said.

The licences will be awarded under a new law that came into effect in January 2021 and aims to accelerate foreign investment in the sector as part of efforts to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbons.

Riyadh’s efforts to build an economy that does not rely on oil involves a shift towards mining vast untapped reserves of several resources including phosphate, gold, copper, uranium and bauxite, the main source of aluminium.

The government estimates the kingdom’s unused mineral resources to be valued at 5 trillion riyal ($1.33 trillion).

Most of the new licences have zinc and copper deposits while Jabal Idsas is for iron, the statement said, adding that Umm Hadid in Riyadh region includes also lead, copper and silver.

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