MUSCAT, JULY 17 – The Mining Development Oman (MDO), the Sultanate’s mining investment flagship, is currently evaluating the size and commercial potential of mineral deposits in Dhofar Governorate, the development of which will be pursued in conjunction with Oman Rail’s ambitious Mineral Line railway project, a key official said here yesterday.
Hilal bin Mohammed al Busaidy (pictured), Chief Executive Officer of the Public Authority for Mining (PAM), said the public sector mining investment and development agency has its sights on two principal mineral commodities — gypsum and limestone — which abound in prodigious quantities 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,” said Al Busaidy said.
MDO was set up in early 2016 with a mandate to drive investment into, and support the aggressive commercialisation of, the Sultanate’s potentially prolific mineral wealth and thereby fuel the nation’s economic diversification strategy. Sixty per cent of the company’s share capital of RO 100 million is owned by four government entities: The State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), Oman Investment Fund (OIF), Oman Oil Company (OOC) and Oman National Investments Development Company (TANMIA). The remaining 40 per cent is proposed to be offered for public subscription via an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Muscat bourse.
Speaking to journalists shortly after signing a landmark national strategy for mining development, the CEO said the Authority was also actively supporting Oman Rail in the development of a viable plan for the implementation of the Mineral Line project.
“One of the projects we are working on right now centres on the transportation of minerals from Shuwaymiyah and Manji to Duqm,” said Al Busaidy. Revenues generated via the transportation of mineral cargoes from mining sites to Duqm will help sustain the economic operation of the rail line project, he noted.
The Mineral Line project is anticipated to be a single track railway with a 40-tonne axle load extending from Thamrait in Dhofar Governorate to the Port of Duqm via the mining hubs of Al Shuwaymiyah and Manji. Plans outlined by Oman Rail — part of Asyad (Oman Global Logistics Group) — envisage the development of the Mineral Line in two stages. Envisioned in Stage 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.
Also making headway is the Authority’s signature plan to offer pre-approved mining blocks for investment and development, said the Chief Executive. The so-called ‘Ready to Invest Mining Blocks’ initiative offers mining licenses that come bundled upfront with all of the requisite government permits and clearances, thereby enabling potential investors to step in and commence their operations with minimum delay.
“We have completed the first stage of this initiative, with the pre-approved blocks already mapped out across the Sultanate based on the type of minerals, and so on,” said Al Busaidy. “At the same time, we have concluded all of the discussions with the various government stakeholders to make sure we are all working in sync. We are now working on the second stage focusing on delineating these areas into investment-ready blocks.”