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Saudi Arabia Targets Battery Metals Mining With “Huge” Investment

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), the state miner of the world’s top oil exporter, plans “huge” investments in exploring for lithium and nickel in Saudi Arabia over the next two decades, Maaden’s top executive told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.

“In the next 10 to 20 years we are going to spend huge amount of money looking for those metals in Saudi Arabia,” Maaden’s chief executive officer Abdulaziz Al Harbi told Bloomberg, asked about the key battery metals lithium and nickel.

The world’s largest oil exporter is thus betting on critical battery metals, whose demand is set to grow exponentially in the energy transition.

It is unclear whether Saudi state miner Maaden would be involved in a recently announced plan from Australia-based EV Metals Group plc to build and develop a battery chemicals complex in the Yanbu industrial city in Saudi Arabia, following the signing of a conditional investment agreement with the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY).

“We have also advanced the development of the Saudi supply chain with applications for exploration licenses over areas with identified critical raw materials containing lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, platinum group metals and rare earth elements,” EV Metals Group said while announcing the plans in early October.

Critical battery metals will be among the most sought-after commodities in coming years due to the global drive for electrification and increased solar and wind power installations, analysts say, as they expect tight markets for key battery minerals ahead.

“Today’s mineral supply and investment plans fall short of what is needed to transform the energy sector, raising the risk of delayed or more expensive energy transitions,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report on the role of critical minerals earlier this year.

For example, lithium prices have soared this year to record highs, as lithium demand for EVs will only grow in the coming years, analysts say. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Kay Uwe Boehm on October 27 2021 said:
    Maybe better investing in cheap titanium.like aluminium production like suggested before on base of cheap hydrogen from methane, water and heat like in Abu Dhabi but setting free CO/CO2 over reduction of much available TiO2 to TiH2 instead d expensive kroll process with Cl2 to TiCl2 with catalysator CaH and heat increased further over 1000°C full decomposition to clean titanium+H2 possible in one step with aloying and rolling etc. and of course investing in new aircondition delivering energy from heat in air and much water in whole desert all year sucking hot air with centrifugal compressor that way more dense and hot cooled with CO2 for turbines with backflow cooling thermal isolatable then air expanded cold for aircondition and much clean water condensed out of air in desert.
  • Kay Uwe Boehm on October 27 2021 said:
    There are also risks in lithium.mining investements if future batteries are Na batteries with berlin white from CATL buyed from daimler & bmw or Mg ammonia battery like suggested. Batteries alone are no tenergy transition only one kind of storage most electricity in world from coal & gas that can be used also directly for driving or flying. Huge electricity storage normally over pumped up water in mountain lake or tower tank down through turbines or other battery types like in china used better for that etc. Main lithium producer in world is australia before chile with lower production costs 2500 instead 4000 and higher reserves in lithium triangle of world.

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