7 firms fined RO 3m for illegal mining

MUSCAT, March 5 –
Seven companies in Oman have been slapped with a fine of RO 3 million for illegal mining and misappropriation of accounts. According to the Public Authority for Mining (PAM), the companies have been given 60 days for settlement of the case.
“The companies have been charged with infringement of public funds and engaging in mining activities without a licence. The financial claims in violations amount to approximately RO 3 million,” said Zeyad al Balushi, Director of the Legal Department and Head of the Violations Committee at PAM. He said RO 684,000 has already been recovered from one of the violating companies.
“The rest of violations are still under investigation by the committee and will be transferred to the Public Prosecution for further action,” he said.
Working with the dumping or exploitation of minerals without a licence is a crime punishable by law.
While calling upon the companies to adhere to the law, Zeyad warned that the authority will not hesitate to even cancel the mining licence of companies involving in illegal activities.
“A team from the authority will continue to conduct inspections at various mining sites in the Sultanate to ensure the activities are in line with the mining law,” he said.
The mining sector is one of the five key sectors that are expected to increase its contribution to the country’s GDP.
As of December 31, 2016, more than 300 mining operations are active, of which 53 are for chromite, seven for copper, 108 for aggregate, 31 for marble, 25 for building products, seven for limestone, three each for sandstone and manganese, five each for gypsum, laterite and clay followed by one for salt and dune sand. The biggest growth in output is seen in building materials, chromite, limestone, gypsum in 2015.
The same trend seems to continue in 2016 except for copper. There are several major projects under way in Oman.
The new mining law, drafted by the authority, is awaiting approval from the relevant ministries.
“The new mining law will help attract investment and develop the sector to enhance its contribution to the country’s GDP. It is aimed at more control in terms of processing, bringing transparency in the auctioning of mines, boost investor sentiment and foster industrial growth,” said Zeyad.
This will also facilitate the work of private investors to enable them to explore and utilise the country’s mineral resources while at the same time securing new income sources and creating more jobs for Omanis, he added.