New phase of copper mining set to take off in the Sultanate

MUSCAT, MAY 16 –
Early works have commenced at the sites of three commercially significant copper mines that have the potential to ignite a new phase of copper mining in the Sultanate.
It follows announcements by the projects’ respective developers that they have been granted approvals from as many as eight government ministries, whose “no-objections” are a prerequisite for the issuance of the all-important mining licence from the Public Authority for Mining (PAM).
Preparing to kickstart development of their copper mines are two international companies: (i) Alara Resources Limited, which is an investor in the Al Hadeetha Copper Project targeting copper resources at Washihi, just outside Muscat Governorate, and (ii) Savannah Resources plc, which plans to develop potentially promising copper resources at Mahab 4 and Maqail South in North Al Batinah Governorate.
In separate statements, Alara and Savannah said they had received approvals for their mining activities from the Royal Oman Police (ROP), as well as the ministries of Defence, Heritage and Culture, Tourism, Environment and Climate Affairs, Regional Municipalities & Water Resources, Interior, and Housing. A final mining licence is now awaited from the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) before mining activities can commence in earnest at the three sites, they noted.
Australian-based Alara Resources has a 70 per cent shareholding in Al Hadeetha Resources, a local Omani company that owns the exploration licence within which the Washihi deposits fall. The balance 30 per cent is held by Al Hadeetha Investments LLC of the Sultanate.
Output of copper concentrate from the Washihi deposits is projected at around 350,000 tonnes over 10 years, yielding approximately 80,000 tonnes of copper metal if smelting is also undertaken locally. The Washihi copper resource is large enough to support the construction of a one million-tonnes per annum capacity copper concentrator.
“The Project is set to become the next producer of copper concentrate in the Sultanate of Oman, with several other copper projects following closely. This increase in copper activity is reflective of the Sultanate’s economic diversification strategy, combined with higher copper prices supported by increased electrification and growing global supply deficits,” said Alara in a statement.
It is also set to create dozens of new jobs for Omanis, contribute over $400 million to the national GDP (over ten years), support further downstream copper development and deliver other economic and social benefits.
Pending the receipt of the mining licence, Al Hadeetha Resources has commenced preliminary activities, which include the construction of a new core yard and storage facilities near the site. Additionally, the joint venture has shortlisted two bidders for the Engineering — Procurement — Construction (EPC) phase of the project.
“Al Hadeetha Resources is ready to issue the EPC contract as soon as final agreement is reached.
The company and its joint venture partner are also finalising financing terms based on LOIs renewed last year,” it stated.
Savannah Resources plc, a London registered mineral development company, has also welcomed the issuance of no-objection letters for its Mahab4 and Maqail South mining licence applications. Savannah is a 65 per cent shareholder in Al Fairuz Mining LLC, an Omani company that holds the Block 5 exploration licence which includes these two high-grade copper deposits.
Savannah’s CEO, David Archer, commented: “In light of the very favourable copper price environment and strong interest from potential off-takers for high-quality copper concentrate, we are excited to be moving closer to being the first new copper mine development in Oman for a number of years and look forward to finalising the licensing process with PAM.”
He further added: “Alongside our licensing progress, we have been participating in the government sponsored Tanfeedh Labs sessions, which have provided an excellent opportunity to bring together all stakeholders related to the mining industry in Oman and provided an industry sounding board for the proposed new mining law in Oman, which is moving towards adoption and is focused on making Oman’s mining environment more attractive to investors and supporting the development of the industry in-country.
This is something we are of course very supportive of as we believe it is an opportune time to be bringing two new mines on-stream in Oman.”