Libyan Economy Minister Ali Al-Essawi said Wednesday mining in Libya may eventually become a more significant economic activity than oil production as the country seeks to reduce its economic dependency on oil.
Al-Essawi said at an event at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in London that Libya has gold, magnesium and iron ore, adding that mining could eventually become more important than oil, adding that because of the focus on oil, Libya has lost many other opportunities, according to S&P Global Platts.
"We are trying to attract investment to areas other than oil. Oil in Libya is currently cheaper than water, partly because of the country's subsidies to the oil industry, which are expected to be reviewed in a move to liberalize domestic oil prices and stem "huge" losses made in domestic energy generation, the minister said.
He added that currently, Libya's metallics mining industry is largely underdeveloped, although tests on samples and reserves are being undertaken by the country's industrial research institution.
Al-Essawi said the Russians and the Italians may be interested, noting that foreign investors may own up to 100% of mining ventures.
Al-Essawi said Libya's economy had been recovering, although the country was still in a transit period after the regime change in 2011, yet he explained that the country's geographic location favors commodities trade with both Europe and Africa, and an exchange rate reform began in 2018.
"The great support we need is not money, but foreign investment and stock exchange support," the Minister of Economy said.
He added that Libya's economic growth rate this year is expected to be very low because the country's oil industry is producing at its minimum capacity, reinforcing the need to diversify away from oil.