MUSCAT, SEPT 11 – A provisional report on mineral resources located in the proximity of Oman Rail’s Mineral Line railway project will be available within six months, says the Implementation Support & Follow-Up Unit of Tanfeedh (The National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification). The keenly awaited assessment is key to establishing the long-term economic and commercial viability of the Mineral Line railway project, proposed by Oman Rail — part of the wholly government owned ASYAD Group — to harness and commercialise the prodigious potential of mineral resources located in Dhofar Governorate.
“An agreement has been signed to evaluate mineral quantities in Al Shuwaymiyah and Manji in Dhofar (as part of the strategy) to build a railway to mineral fields,” said Tanfeedh’s ISFU Unit in a tweet on Monday.
The Mineral Line project is anticipated to be a single track railway extending from Thamrait in Dhofar Governorate to the Port of Duqm via the mining hubs of Al Shuwaymiyah and Manji. Envisioned in Phase 1 is a 377 km length connecting the Port of Duqm with Al Shuwaymiyah and Manji. Another 276 km section will be added in Stage 2 connecting mining areas in Thamrait with the junction of Stage 1 at Amal.
The Public Authority for Mining (PAM) had recently revealed that the Mining Development Oman is evaluating the size and commercial potential of mineral deposits in Dhofar Governorate.
Hilal bin Mohammed al Busaidy, CEO of PAM, said MDO is focused on appraising gypsum and limestone reserves in Dhofar Governorate. “MDO is doing a study to assess the quantity and quality of gypsum and limestone resources available in the Shuwaymiyah and Manji areas of Dhofar Governorate. Based on the results of this study, MDO will be awarded some concessions to produce these minerals for transportation to the SEZ at Duqm, either for industrial processing or for export,” Al Busaidy stated in an interview to the Observer published in July.
Oman Rail’s Mineral Line project aims to support the transportation of an estimated 60 million tonnes of mineral commodities annually, from sites in Dhofar to processing plants in the Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ) or for export via the Port of Duqm. It will also facilitate the transportation of an estimated one million tonnes of oilfield equipment from the port to oil and gas fields located in the hinterland of Duqm.
Furthermore, as an alternative to road-based transportation, the proposed line will ferry around 3 million tonnes of industrial goods, and some 15 million tonnes of general merchandise, including foodstuff and agricultural products, to destinations in Wusta and Dhofar governorates.
Tanfeedh has mooted a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model to fund the project, with private investors contributing 80 per cent of the capital. The latter figure includes a 30 per cent share from mining investors.