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Saudi Arabia’s Manara Minerals fund plans metals trading arm

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  • Manara was established as part of the kingdom's efforts to diversify its economy from oil

Saudi Arabian investment fund Manara Minerals is planning to set up a metals trading arm to support its interests in mining companies overseas, its acting chief executive said on Thursday.

Manara was established as part of the kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy from oil, tapping its vast resources of phosphate, gold, copper and bauxite while buying minority stakes of up to 20% in assets overseas. It is a joint venture between state-owned miner Ma’aden and the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

“We envision Manara having a trading arm,” Manara Acting CEO Robert Wilt told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Future Minerals Forum (FMF) mining gathering in Riyadh.

“Our fist phase of setting up the company is get the investment rolling, but all of these investments are predicated on an offtake… so there is going to be some level of trading to manage the books of offtake minerals we have,” he added.

In an offtake deal, a buyer usually agrees to buy a portion of the producer’s future output.

“We are not envisioning going into competition with Glencore or Trafigura, our vision is just to manage our own book,” Wilt said.

Miner Glencore’s trading division, which includes coal, oil, liquefied natural gas and related products, as well as metals, saw record profits of $6.4 billion in 2022.

Manara’s first major foray abroad was a deal to become a 10% shareholder in Vale’s $26 billion copper and nickel spin-off Vale Base Metals last July.

Wilt, who is also the CEO of Ma’aden, said that the fund has a strict mandate to source iron ore, lithium, copper and nickel as part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to become a metals processing hub.

Manara is in talks to potentially buy a stake in Pakistan’s Reko Diq mine, Wilt added, currently half owned by Toronto-listed Barrick Gold, and half by the governments of Pakistan and the province of Balochistan. Barrick considers the mine one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas.

“Manara is evaluating a host of opportunities, post closure of the Vale deal, and Reko Diq is one of them,” he said. (Reporting by Clara Denina, additional reporting by Divya Rajagopal; Editing by Veronica Brown and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)


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