Money, mines and measures

By Bilal Hussain — While it is an encouraging move by the state-owned Oman Mining Company to have international partnership and global cooperation, however, due development and care is needed on the ground to reap full benefits. The country is opening up the mining sector for global players, and securing some good deals would mean joint ventures with reputable global miners, attracting international investors, building the local capacities in the sector.
The present advances in the sector is coming in the backdrop that the Sultanate of Oman is having huge reserves of minerals that include chromite, dolomite, zinc, limestone, gypsum, silica, copper, gold, cobalt and iron.
Notably, Oman is expected to be the largest exporter of gypsum by 2018, experts believe. According to some news reports, the exports from Oman are projected to surpass 10 million tonnes per annum in 2018, up from 5.85 million tonnes at the end of 2015 which is a basic raw material for cement and gypsum board manufacturing. This is significant especially given the demand for gypsum in India which is estimated at over 300 million tonnes over the next 15 years. Similarly, an ambitious copper-gold mining project jointly promoted by Omani-Australian currently under development in Dakhiliyah Governorate has the potential to generate revenues in excess of $430 million over the 10 years of its operations.
The recent development in form of Mining Development Oman — a new entity with a capital of RO 100 million — is expected to give a flip to the sector. The sixty per cent of the equity has come from four state-owned companies: State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), Oman Investment Fund (OIF), Oman Oil Company and Oman National Investments Development Company (Tanmia). While, the remaining RO 40 million is to be raised via an Initial Public Offering later to be floated on the Muscat Securities Market.
The Sultanate of Oman is taking major advances in mine identifications as it is being now considered as a sector with high potential. The mining sector is going to be among the five key sectors that are expected to increase its contribution towards the GDP of Oman. According to an earlier 2016 news report the figures confirm that the mining sector has been growing at 20 per cent over last year, however, with a smaller contribution towards the GDP of the country.
With such huge potential, the Oman Minerals & Mining Exhibition and Conference, which is going to take place this month, should be encouraged as this is the first step towards building long term business relations among the biz biggies in the sector.
The need is to invest and develop the required infrastructure and ports so that the sector will flourish leaps and bounds in the years to come. However, some cautions need to be taken into account like environmental protection and proper care for the workers in those mines.

— ibilalhussain@gmail.com