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As part of Saudi Vision 2030, a strategic framework aimed at reducing Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and diversifying its economy, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources developed the New Mining Investment Law (the New Law). One of the main goals of the New Law is to attract more local and international investors to the mining sector, and it lays the foundation for a number of interesting initiatives, including (i) the establishment of a national geological database, (ii) the establishment of a “Mining Fund” to support the mining sector, (iii) potentially streamlining the procedure for obtaining mining licenses, and (iv) introducing certain financial incentives for investors. In this article, we discuss the New Law, the notable differences between the New Law and the previous Mining Investment Law, and the potential opportunities for investors presented by the New Law and the wider sector reforms already underway.

Licenses and Licensing procedure
Detailed procedures for the issuing of licenses will be included in the regulations; it is expected there will be aggressive new timelines for the Ministry and other stakeholders to adhere to when processing and approving applications. Crucially, the New Law continues to grant the holder of an Exploration License the exclusive right to obtain a Utilization/Exploitation License for the relevant License Site.

Financial provisions
Holders of Exploitation/Utilization Licenses for Class A Minerals will be exempt from paying either (i) the financial consideration or (ii) a percentage of their net revenues, for the first five years after a license is issued, which will provide valuable relief during the early stages of a project when capital costs and risks are at their highest. The New Law also continues to provide for customs duties exemptions for imported equipment and spare parts required for carrying out any licensed Mining Activity.

Financing & mortgaging
Under the New Law, licensees are permitted to mortgage/ pledge their rights under both Exploitation/Utilization Licenses and Exploration Licenses without obtaining the prior written approval of the Ministry, and the New Law specifically provides for mortgagees/pledgees to transfer licenses to eligible persons.

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Andrew is a partner and Head of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla's Arbitration and Construction practice. He has been based in Dubai since 2009. He is a solicitor advocate and arbitration law specialist. He works extensively across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, acting for governments and international corporations on complex commercial disputes under a variety of civil and common law systems. He is ranked in Chambers Global, Legal 500 and is listed in Who’s Who Legal as one of the world’s leading construction lawyers. Andrew has a commercial focus and is particularly adept at partnering with his clients and understanding their business. Clients state that he “impresses with his command of potential issues” and he has "relentless tenacity and absolute client focus" (Chambers Global). Who's Who Legal says: "Rising star" Andrew Mackenzie has "an exceptional knowledge" and "a strong commitment to his clients."

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Gordon Prestige is a partner in Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. He focuses on project finance transactions, public/private partnerships and renewables projects.

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Gavin Witcombe is a Partner in Baker McKenzie Riyadh office.

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Mike Webster is a Partner in Baker McKenzie’s Global Energy, Mining and Infrastructure Industry Group and heads the Corporate Department of the London office. Mike has more than 30 years experience working on transactions across the EMEA region, as well as in Asia and the Caribbean. Mike has worked in the Firm's London and Hong Kong offices.

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Greg McNab is a member of the Firm's Corporate & Securities Practice Group in Toronto. His main areas of practice include financings of public and private securities issuers, investment management products, capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions and resources and energy matters, both domestically and internationally. He also advises on corporate governance, regulatory compliance, continuous disclosure and stock exchange matters for public issuers. Mr. McNab helps lead the Firm's Global and Canadian Mining Groups. Mr. McNab regularly speaks, writes published articles and appears in the media with respect to a variety of securities, mining and energy matters. He is a director and Canadian Chair of the Canadian Australian Chamber of Commerce. A former mechanical engineer, Mr. McNab is also the co-chair of the International Emissions Trading Association's global carbon capture and storage working group.

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Derek is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Corporate Markets practice group in Brisbane. Derek practices in corporate law with a focus on capital markets, including mergers and acquisitions and capital raising, primarily in the energy and resources sector.

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Morné van der Merwe is the managing partner of Baker McKenzie's Johannesburg office and heads its Corporate and M&A Practice Group. He is recognised as a leading lawyer in South Africa by Chambers Global, Legal 500 and IFLR1000.