Muscat: A contract for the construction and operation of a 1 million tons per annum (Mtpa) capacity copper concentration plant at the heart of the Integrated Copper Mining Project of Al Hadeetha Resources unveiled on Monday, is due to be awarded shortly, according to a key project executive.
Justin Richard (pictured), CEO of Al Hadeetha Resources, said a number of specialist mining contractors are competing for the Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) contract for the development of the concentrator plant – the centerpiece of the $70 million copper mining project set for implementation at Wadi Andam in Wilayat Al Mudhaibi, North Al Sharqiyah Governorate.
“The appointment of the EPC contractor will be announced within weeks,” said Richard. “The EPC contractor will also operate the plant over the 10-year life of the copper mine,” he added in comments to journalists following Monday’s celebrations marking the formal award of a license from the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) for the development of copper reserves in Washihi in Al Mudhaibi, billed as one of the largest single-resource copper mines in the Sultanate.
Al Hadeetha Resources – a partnership of Australian based Alara Resources (70 percent) and local firm Al Hadeetha Investment (30 per cent) – has also announced the appointment of Canadian based industrial consultancy Progesys as the Project Management Consultant (PMC) for the overall integrated development. Progesys will also oversee the functions of the Mining Contractor, who will be responsible for the mining fleet, as well as a host of other consultants tasked with ensuring compliance with environmental and regulatory requirements.
Earlier, in a presentation at the Public Authority of Mining (PAM) headquarters on Monday, Justin Richard – who is also CEO of Alara Resources – said Al Hadeetha Resources is “setting a great example for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)” in the Sultanate.
“The project involves a total capex of about $70 million, which includes pre-operating expenditure and the cost of the concentrator plant. It will also involve around $270 million in operating expenditure and generate revenues of about $500 million over the life of the mine based on current copper prices. The project will also pay around $30 million in royalties, $30 million in corporate taxes and generate many other benefits to the economy and to society, through local employment, capacity building, SME development, and so on.”
Importantly, the copper mining project is also taking off against the backdrop of growing copper demand and rising commodity prices, he said. “Copper demand is growing year-on-year. On average every person on the planet is consuming about 3 kilos of copper every year; it’s around 6 kilos in the United States, and 8 kilos in Japan. Copper use is expected to rise further with increased urbanization, electrification and the advent of Electric Vehicles.”
Copper ore from the Washihi site in Wadi Andam will be mined, transported by conveyor to the nearby concentrator plant where it will be crushed and processed to produce copper concentrate of around 24.6 per cent metal purity, said Richard. The concentrate will be exported via Sohar Port for smelting overseas pending either the refurbishment of the existing government owned copper smelter at Wadi Jizzi or the development of an entirely new smelter in the Sultanate. Output of copper concentrate from the concentrator plant is estimated at 30,000 tons per annum, he said.
As for the project timeline, Richard stated: “We are now in a position to commence work on the project with a view to commencing production at the end of next year.”
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