Speaking in advance of the landmark Future Minerals Summit (FMS) in Saudi Arabia, on January 11-13, the Founder and Executive Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd, Robert Friedland, has spoken of his excitement at the development of the largely unexplored, mineral-rich Arabian-Nubian Shield (ANS) region.
He described the forthcoming summit as “very important” for the mining sector generally.
On the back of his confirmed participation at FMS in Riyadh, Friedland was interviewed last week about one of its themes: defining a new mining hub in the Middle East, Central Asia, and North and East Africa.
He said: “We think the [Arabian Shield’s] potential is limitless for diamonds, rare earth, lithium, copper, gold and other minerals we haven’t even thought about. It’s big. It’s unexplored, and it’s blessed by cheap energy, at the bottom of the world cost curve, with new infrastructure, and proximity to markets.”
The Ivanhoe Group concentrates on regions where it can make “super-large discoveries” because of a lack of previous exploration. Friedland has been involved in 59 countries over the past 20 years, and describes Saudi Arabia’s mineral potential as “enormous”. Because of the recent positive change in government policy, Friedland said he “couldn’t be more excited about what is happening in the Kingdom”, and that “Ivanhoe would love to be part of it”.
Friedland also believes there is potential in the south of the Craton in Oman and Yemen, and across the fault into North Africa.
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FMS is a meeting of senior political and business leaders to address issues facing the global mining industry. Convened for Riyadh on January 11-13, 2022, the themes also include a focus on mining’s contribution to society and on advancing the industry through technology and innovation.
The Kingdom’s Vice-Minister of Mining Affairs, His Excellency Khalid Al-Mudaifer, told the recent Mines and Money (M&M) conference in London that his country wanted to play a part in “reimagining the mining sector” and showcase the ANS as a “new frontier for mining”. This part of the world, he said, will play a “vital role in meeting the exponential growth in global demand for the critical minerals needed in a low-carbon society”.
KSA’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has confirmed that mining company leaders at FMS, in addition to Friedland, will include the CEOs of Barrick Gold and Alcoa, Mark Bristow and Roy Harvey, respectively, and the chairman of Fortescue Metals, Andrew Forrest. Numerous other industry leaders attending include Jeremy Weir, Jeffrey Dawes and Rohitesh Dhawan, the CEOs of Trafigura, Komatsu Mining and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), respectively.
The summit in Riyadh will play an important part in driving home the message that mining is part of the solution to cutting the world’s carbon emissions, and that unexplored mineralised regions can, and should, be opened up to deliver the necessary raw materials, the conference organisers say.