From January 10-12, 2023, the U.S.-Saudi Business Council (USSBC) led a business development mission to the 2023 Future Minerals Forum (FMF) in Riyadh for the purpose of introducing American companies to investment opportunities within the Kingdom’s mining sector. The USSBC represented the delegation with promotional materials and videos at its booth at the Forum from January 11-12 and arranged both planned and impromptu meetings in the Business Council’s booth space. The USSBC delegation was comprised of American producers, developers, and suppliers of advanced industrial equipment; titanium dioxide; geophysical technologies such as 3D imaging solutions and surveys; and simulation and productivity tools for industrial field operations.
During the mission, the USSBC facilitated one-on-one meetings between the delegation and key Saudi business and government stakeholders, laying the foundation for future partnerships and agreements in the rapidly growing and developing Saudi mining and minerals sector. Notably, Dr. Michael Zhdanov, Chairman and CEO of TechnoImaging, shared insight into innovative airborne geophysical technology as a featured speaker within one of the Forum’s Tech Talk segments. Other offerings provided during the mission included briefings from local officials, along with an overview of Saudi Arabia’s legal environment and the legal aspects of investing in Saudi mining from Al Akeel & Partners in cooperation with Mayer Brown, a Chairman’s Circle member of the Business Council. On January 12, the last day of the Forum, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources H.E. Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef stopped by the USSBC booth to greet the USSBC and its delegation. The delegation members had the chance to introduce themselves to the Minister and briefly describe their company and goals for the Saudi mining market.
The delegation included the companies Apfelbaum Industrial, Tronox, TechnoImaging, and Voovio. Apfelbaum Industrial, based in El Paso, Texas, manufactures and sells spare industrial parts, especially obsolete or hard-to-find equipment, and specializes in reclaiming industrial oil used by heavy machinery and transformers. Apfelbaum’s on-site oil reclamation equipment and services allow its partners to save costs on disposing and replacing used oil while reducing environmental risks associated with industrial oil disposal.
Connecticut-based Tronox, which is partly owned by the Saudi-based National Industrialization Company (Tasnee), specializes in extracting and producing titanium dioxide, in part through the country’s largest titanium smelter facility in Jazan. Tronox’s titanium dioxide and titanium sponge are vital in manufacturing paints, coatings, and finishes for a variety of uses, including in the aerospace, machinery, and automotive sectors.
Utah-based TechnoImaging develops advanced 3D imaging for applications in oil and gas exploration and production, mineral, hydrological, or geothermal exploration, and environmental monitoring. TechnoImaging’s software processes data from all geophysical data types including electromagnetic, gravity, magnetic, seismic.
Voovio, based in Houston, Texas, uses “digital twin” simulation to replicate industrial processes digitally to enhance onboarding and training processes, improving efficiency and productivity. The company’s software and simulation process reduces unplanned downtime, helps avoid environmental and safety incidents, reduces time spent and errors encountered during plant operations and standard maintenance procedures, and allows more efficiency and scalability in onboarding new employees.
Octavio Manzano, President of Texas-based Apfelbaum Industrial, lauded the experience and the opportunity to contribute to the Kingdom’s mining sector: “This has been a rewarding experience, and I am grateful to the Council for its help and support. I especially appreciate the opportunity to meet with key executives and relevant officials within the market, which is otherwise nearly impossible to do.”
“The Council was delighted to participate in the 2nd annual Future Minerals Forum,” said Susanne Lendman, Interim President and CEO at the U.S.-Saudi Business Council. “U.S. companies are interested in contributing to the Kingdom’s minerals value chain, and this mission offered participants the necessary knowledge to learn about Saudi Arabia’s minerals development strategies and provided opportunities for potential collaborative partnerships.”
The Future Minerals Forum, organized by the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources (MIMR), brought 10,000 representatives from the global mining industry and featured speakers from international governments and major companies to highlight the abundance of opportunities in the emerging Saudi mining sector. Developing the mining sector is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 investments into diversifying the country’s economy and industrial base and goals of attracting more foreign investments and partnerships. In all, the country holds more than $1.3 trillion in untapped mineral deposits, mainly phosphates, gold, copper, and zinc. By 2030, the Saudi government aims to more than triple its revenues from the mining sector, while increasing the sector’s GDP contribution from $17 billion (in 2015) to $64 billion and creating 220,000 new direct and indirect jobs. The MIMR plans to facilitate this growth by investing more than $32 billion in midstream and downstream projects in the mining and metals sector.
The U.S.-Saudi Business Council previously worked with the MIMR to run the webinar “Update on Opportunities in the Saudi Mining Sector” for an audience of high-level representatives from the global mining industry and financial sector. The Business Council also hosted the MIMR and Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) for a seminar during MINExpo in Las Vegas and site visits to prospective U.S. mining partners.