RIYADH: The Saudi capital is set to host ministers from over 45 countries on Jan. 9 for a roundtable meeting at the Future Minerals Forum 2024 to discuss the future of the global mining sector.

The world’s premier gathering on minerals seeks to address the challenges in the mining and metals sector, especially the heightened demand for energy transition minerals.  

This high-level meeting, preceding the third edition of the forum, will see participation from 80 countries, featuring over 45 ministers and representatives from 20 international organizations, 30 nongovernmental organizations, and 13 business associations. 

As nations rush to ensure stable supply chains, collaborative efforts will take center stage, with a key focus on supporting technology development.  

The focus will be on promoting a green mineral supply chain, leveraging reliable hydrogen and renewable energy sources to power this transformative journey.  

The roundtable underscores the significant contribution of the region spanning from Africa to West and Central Asia, highlighting Saudi Arabia’s leadership role. 

The event is not just a platform for discussion but a beacon for global cooperation in the production of critical minerals essential for transforming the energy sector. 

Key discussions will revolve around the potential of the major mineral-rich super region, with government representatives and officials from multilateral organizations like the UN and the World Bank, alongside trade and business associations, exchanging ideas and experiences. 

The forum will also integrate NGOs focused on sustainability and community development, aiming to set the foundation for green development in the metals industry. 

Underscoring the significance of the meeting, Saudi Arabia’s Vice-Minister for Mining Affairs Khalid Al-Mudaifer said the participation of ministers from around the world is a testament to the political and economic clout of the Kingdom and the growing importance of minerals.   

He emphasized the strategic role of minerals, particularly in energy transformation, and noted the forum’s emergence as a leading global platform for shaping the future of the mineral sector. 

“The super region has the potential to provide the world with the minerals necessary for its prosperity and growth. It is expected to play a major role in providing the estimated 3 billion tons of strategic minerals necessary to create the infrastructure that the world needs to achieve the goal of zero emissions,” Al-Mudaifer said in a statement.   

The agenda for this crucial gathering covers a range of pivotal topics, each vital for the advancement and sustainability of the sector.  

Another significant topic is building societal trust through responsible mining practices, delving into implementing high standards of environmental, social, and governance performance, and exploring the certification of metal production and supply for enhanced transparency and accountability. 

The roundtable will also evaluate the role of “centers of excellence” in shaping critical minerals strategies, focusing on workforce development, enhancing access to capital, and fostering innovation.  

Lastly, the ministerial meeting aims to establish a platform for discussing both current and future challenges facing the sector.  

This collaborative model aims to bring together all stakeholders to find a common ground for developing resilient mineral supply chains, increasingly important in the context of global environmental and economic challenges.  

This collective effort is expected to play a critical role in shaping the future of the minerals sector, ensuring its growth and sustainability.  

Future Minerals Forum  

The upcoming Future Minerals Forum, set for Jan. 10-11, serves as a global platform to deliberate on pivotal issues in the mining industry, bolstering the contribution of the super region.  

With 220 speakers, including CEOs from leading mining and finance companies, the event anticipates drawing nearly 13,000 participants. 

Moreover, the gathering will feature over 40 sessions that delve into developing a global critical mineral strategy, incorporating centers of excellence into regional strategies, establishing a global transparent standard for mineral supply, and creating green metals value chains by using new technologies.  

The event is a significant step toward advancing the mining and metals sector and solidifying the super region’s position in the global landscape.  

Moreover, an international exhibition is also set to take place during the event hosting over 150 exhibitors and industry sponsors.   

Notable speakers include Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Education Minister Yousef Al-Benyan, Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser, and Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan. 

Other global leaders include Paul Kabuswe, Zambia’s minister of mines and minerals development, Dele Alake, Nigeria’s minister of solid minerals development, and Samual Jinapor, Ghana’s minister of lands and natural resources. 

A fresh line of executives is also expected to give valuable insights into the sector like Vale CEO Eduardo Bartolomeo, Maaden chief Bob Wilt, and Jeremy Weir, chief executive officer of Trafigura. 

Around 75 percent of speakers are expected to be chief executives — 23 percent from the mining and energy sector, 20 percent from the infrastructure industry, and 15 percent from the services space.  

Initiated by Saudi Arabia, the forum encompasses three core elements — the ministerial roundtable, conference, and international exhibition.  

The inaugural FMF, hosted in January 2022, drew in over 140 senior speakers worldwide, marking a significant stride in global mining dialogues. 

The 2023 event saw an impressive participation of 249 speakers, delving into critical issues confronting the region’s mineral sector and pinpointing actionable strategies.  

The roundtable of the 2023 forum was particularly notable, convening over 60 ministers and delegations along with representatives from more than 20 international organizations.