The Mining World Turns to Saudi Cash for Critical Metal Supply – by Thomas Biesheuvel and Jacob Lorinc (Bloomberg News – July 30, 2023)

(Bloomberg) — A $2.6 billion deal announced last week has set the stage for a potentially landmark shift in the metal and mining investment landscape: the arrival of Saudi Arabia as a pivotal player. The agreement with Vale SA gives the kingdom a 10% slice in one of the world’s crucial suppliers of nickel and copper — essential metals needed to decarbonize.

It’s also held other talks, including with Barrick Gold Corp. about investing in a big Pakistan copper mine, according to people familiar with the matter. Speaking privately, executives at top miners said the value of Thursday’s deal made clear that the Saudis are ready to splash cash around.

The move comes as the question of who controls the commodities needed to both sustain and decarbonize the world’s economies has turned into a global flashpoint, jumping to the top of agendas in the US and Europe.

China has for years been the dominant buyer and a key source of funding, as it sought to secure supply for its rapid industrialization. But as tensions with the West have mounted, the mining industry is now facing increased pressure to look elsewhere.

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