MUSCAT, FEB 3 – Mawarid Mining, one of Oman’s largest independent mining firms, envisions a potential investment of as much as $100 million in the development of copper deposits in its Block 1 and 2 concessions in North Al Batinah Governorate. The two blocks — part of Mawarid Mining’s portfolio of mineral assets in the Sultanate — were the subject of a joint venture partnership agreement signed by the company with Minerals Development Oman (MDO), a new national mining investment flagship, on Wednesday. The JV has committed to assessing and developing the copper reserves potential of the two blocks.
In remarks to the Observer, Tariq al Barwani, CEO of Mawarid Mining, a 60 per cent partner in the JV, said investments by the partnership will be based on a ‘stage-gate’ process typical of any project of this kind. “Stage 1 will entail an investment of around $1 million in exploration, and provided this stage is successful — and God willing it will be — we will then make a further investment of $5 million in detailed engineering, detailed design and detailed feasibility. Based on the success of this stage, we will go into mining operations, and that will mean a $50-100 million investment jointly by the partners.”
Welcoming the JV partnership with MDO, Al Barwani said tie-ups of this nature offer value, while also mitigating risk. “We see value in having these private-government partnerships in Oman. The real advantage is you can cover much more ground, and with mining being risky, you can increase the portfolio, even though you may have a smaller stake. By reducing your risk, you can cover a lot more areas and do a lot more than you would on your own. That’s the real advantage of partnering up with organisations like MDO.”
Asked about plans, if any, to revive its ambitious underground mine development initiative targeting copper deposits in Ghuzayn, the CEO said the project is still on the table. “We are working on updating the feasibility report. The Ghuzayn project was stopped because it couldn’t receive the mining permit in time. However, we are working together with various partners to bring it back on the table.”
Outside Oman, Mawarid Mining has a sizeable portfolio of mining interests in places as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Africa. The most exciting at present is a concession in Rwanda that is highly prospective for tantalum — a highly prized rare earth used in the manufacture of devices such as mobile phones, game consoles and laptops.
“Our biggest focus, outside of Oman, is Rwanda where we are going through an IPO in London of our project in Rwanda, which is going through a phase of mining and development,” Al Barwani said.
“The tantalum supply chain in Africa comes mainly from artisanal mines, but the global community is concerned whether these mines are safe, environmentally friendly, and take care of their workers. In contrast, we are developing a modern mine in Rwanda with global standards for safety, the environment, and so on. Anyone purchasing material from us will know it is mined in an ethical, safe and responsible way,” he added.