EV Metals Group is planning to invest $3bn to construct processing plants in Saudi Arabia for metals used in making batteries for electric vehicles.

The Australian company will make the investment on building plants to process minerals including lithium and nickel.

In an interview to Bloomberg, EV Metals managing director and CEO Michael Naylor said that the company will later enter into the exploration of the battery metals.

Naylor was quoted by the publication as saying: “We’re the first mover and we’ve got the know-how, the technology and the technical capabilities to bring to the kingdom to explore for these metals.”

The development of the processing facilities will be carried out over the next nine years, Naylor said.

EV Metals’ battery chemicals processing facility is expected to supply a potential automotive manufacturing cluster in Saudi Arabia.

The project is anticipated to produce 50,000 tonnes a year of high-purity lithium hydroxide monohydrate in the first stage. Initially, the plant will process feedstock imported from the company’s mine in Western Australia.

With over 15 applications for exploration licences in the kingdom, EV Metals also intends to explore for deposits of lithium, nickel and cobalt.

The company expects to find major battery material deposits in Saudi Arabia, based on its studies.

EV Metals’ investment will be the first significant deal in Saudi Arabia since the passing of a law to garner investments in the country’s mining sector.

Under the last year’s mining law, new projects will be provided a package of incentives, consisting of royalty-free periods and financing.

According to the Saudi government’s estimates, the kingdom holds $1 trillion of untapped minerals. The country is currently the largest producer aluminum and is also witnessing an increase its gold production.