UK to deepen collaboration on critical minerals with Saudi Arabia

UK to deepen collaboration on critical minerals with Saudi Arabia
UK to deepen collaboration on critical minerals with Saudi Arabia

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - American exploration firm Ivanhoe Electric to help Kingdom explore harsher terrains  

RIYADH: American technology and mineral exploration firm Ivanhoe Electric aims to help Saudi Arabia "separate the haystack from the needle" as the Kingdom looks deeper into the Earth’s surface to extract mineral deposits, according to the company's founder.

Speaking at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh on Jan. 11, Robert Friedland, who is also the co-chairman of the firm, said Ivanhoe’s electric Typhoon system will enable the Kingdom to explore harsher terrains as the mineral deposits closest to the surface have already been discovered. 

He insists that technology has a major role to play as the world goes much deeper to extract minerals to meet the growing demand – while keeping environmental issues such as climate change in mind. 

Earlier in the day, the American firm formed a joint venture with Saudi Arabian Mining Co., also known as Ma’aden, to explore and develop mining projects in the Kingdom. 

The typhoon system is Ivanhoe’s proprietary exploration surveying technology that injects extremely high-powered currents deep underground. 

Explaining more about the technology, Friedland said the system takes a 20-kilometer-long wire putting its two ends into the earth and injecting bolts of electromagnetic energy at the output of a nuclear power plant. “If there's copper or gold or minerals, it lights up like a Christmas tree and we can see it non-invasively without drilling.”  

In addition to this, the founder stressed that the Typhoon system also allows to see water “which will become one of the most valuable commodities of all to human beings because it basically constitutes life as we know it.”  

“While we are surveying for metals, we will also be surveying the Kingdom for water. Together, with Ma’aden, we will work on a minimum of 48,500 sq. km,” the co-chairman disclosed. 

Moreover, Ivanhoe will also offer artificial intelligence software that takes terabits of data and turns it into clear three-dimensional imagery “which is set to further facilitate the process of pinpointing the electric metals.” 

“We are highly confident that this piece of land that was given by the creator to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is as highly endowed in minerals as any location in the world,” Friedland highlighted. 

Taking place at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center in Riyadh, the FMF discusses a number of topics including developments in the mining sector in the region extending from Africa and West and Central Asia, ways to attract investments, the use of cutting-edge technology in the sector, applying the best standards of sustainability, and more.  

The conference also tackles global bottlenecks that could potentially affect the supply of minerals and energy, the future of mining on a domestic level and worldwide, as well as the contribution of mining projects, and any growth opportunities for the sector.    

With the prices of valuable minerals, especially gold, copper and zinc rising, Saudi Arabia expects the value of its current mineral wealth to double from the previously $1.3 trillion, CEO of the Saudi Geological Survey Abdullah Al-Shamrani said in September 2022. 

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