Can Saudi Arabia mine itself out of unemployment?
Saudi's mining sector may provide the critical jobs that many unemployed Saudis are looking for (Shutterstock)
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The construction of the Saudi mining sector serves the country and citizens over the long term and contributes to creating thousands of jobs for the people of the Kingdom, especially in the technical jobs, as well as investment opportunities for citizens and international companies, Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi said Wednesday during the inspection tour of Ma’aden Company projects in Ras Al-Khair City, Eastern Province.
He said “these mega projects contribute to economic diversification, achievement of high returns for shareholders and investors, transfer and localization of technical professions with high skills. The mining industry constitutes an important basis for the diversity of the economy and the development of new industries based on their outputs.”
He was accompanied by Adviser to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Prince Faisal Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, and Adviser for Companies Affairs in the ministry Abdulrahman Muhammad Abdulkarim.
During the tour, they got acquainted with the production lines, manufacturing units and vital utilities for the company that form integrated mining industries that the company is developing so as to enable the growth of its mining investments. It is also building a base for advanced industries for the transfer of technology and increasing the added value for its shareholders.
The tour included the aluminum smelter, whose production capacity reaches 740,000 metric tons of aluminum annually. Production began at the end of 2012. The smelter provides big opportunities for manufacturing industries in the aluminum sector. It provides its clients with various shapes of metals like aluminum bars and blocks and smelted aluminum, among others.
The minister and his delegation were acquainted with the progress of work in the rolling of aluminum sheets belonging to Ma’aden. Its test run began at the end of 2013 in preparation for the start of commercial production in the second quarter of 2014. The production capacity will reach 380,000 tons annually. It is the only factory of its kind in the region, and will be one of the most advanced technologically in the world.
They also saw the ongoing construction operations in the sheets factory necessary for the automobile industry. About 56 percent of the project has been completed. Production is expected to begin at the end of 2014 with a production capacity of 100,000 tons annually.
Meanwhile, the mining operations in Al-Be’aithah Mine have started as planned. About 4 million tons of bauxite will be transported annually by train from the mine to Ras Al-Khair.
The tour included the alumina refinery. Over 77 percent of the project has been completed. Its production capacity will reach 1.8 million metric tons annually. Production will begin at the third quarter of 2014.
Al-Naimi and his entourage visited also the phosphate complex and the support utilities. The production capacity for the phosphate project reaches three million tons annually. The tour also included Ras Al-Khair Port that has six wharves for the export of Ma’aden products. The port began work in February 2011. They also saw Ma’aden village residential project in Ras Al-Khair that comprises 2,509 housing units.
Al-Naimi also met with several youths of Ma’aden. The number of employees in Ma’aden in Ras Al-Khair, including engineers, technicians and employees, have reached 4,000, with 70 percent Saudi nationals. Of these, 1,100 were trained within the Kingdom, while 300 were trained abroad.
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