Prospects for the discovery of higher concentrations of associated gold in Block 10 in Dhahirah Governorate will drive up the profitability of the Yanqul copper project, a partnership agreement for which was signed here yesterday.
Indicated and inferred mineral resources in just a sliver of the massive 370sq km concession owned by Oman Mining Company (OMCO), a wholly government owned mining firm, point to an aggregate of 18.5 million tonnes of copper-gold deposits. The gold component of this resource is inferred at 0.82 grammes per tonne, potentially yielding 475,000 ounces of the precious metal, according to details revealed at the signing ceremony.
While not substantive in itself, the associated gold will add to the overall economics of the project as well as its profitability, according to Abdulsattar al Murshidi (pictured), Chairman of OMCO.
“To be sure, Block 10 is primarily a copper project,” said Al Murshidi. “Gold is associated with copper, and the indicated quantities is not sufficient to call it a gold project. But there is also a fair amount of gold in the project. In the last stages of our appraisal of this project, we continued to find more gold and in higher concentrations as we went deeper. We only stopped drilling because of the limited reach of the drilling rig. So the expectation is also high for gold.”
Only 10 per cent of the sprawling block has been appraised and earmarked for development as part of the pact inked yesterday by OMCO with Minerals Development Oman (MDO) and international mining investor EXO. The potential for a similar large-scale copper-gold find is promising as the rest of the blocks is studied, the Chairman noted.
“Indications in the rest of the Block suggest a similar quality of findings of copper elsewhere in the concession, so we can expect a similar size of deposit going forward,” he said.
All of these indications bode well for the economics and profitability of the Yanqul copper-gold project, said Al Murshidi. “It’s quite profitable, indeed. This project will pay for itself within the first three years, and therefore, it will generate profits for the rest of its operational life. If we find a similar sized deposit elsewhere in the Block, we will also build a complete smelter and refinery, which will not only add to profits, but also double the number of jobs created, boost commercial opportunities for the local community, and contribute to much higher returns.”
Earlier, in comments to the Observer, Al Murshidi described the landmark pact with MDO and EXO as marking a new phase in the state-owned company’s development. “With this agreement, OMCO has come back from hibernation basically. This project marks a new phase for Oman Mining in terms of its positioning, profitability, quality of its mines, and its outlook, particularly in terms of its focus on efficiency and utilisation of technology. But the greatest attribute is the fact that the agreement covers only 10 per cent of Block 10’s potential. The reserves potential is twice as large as what OMCO developed in Suhar in the earlier phase of its existence.”
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, JAN 24 –