Albanian marble set to arrive in Oman for local processing

In a significant boost for Oman’s thriving marble processing sector, high quality raw marble blocks will shortly begin arriving from Albania for processing and value addition in the Sultanate prior to their export internationally as a ‘Made in Oman’ brand. Behind this initiative is Gulf Mining Group, one of Oman’s largest mining and mineral processing corporations, which was recently awarded licenses to develop two major marble quarries in this southern European nation.
The move, according to a high-level executive, will bolster Gulf Mining’s already substantive presence in the marble quarrying and processing sector in the Sultanate.
“We have begun investing in Albania where we were fortunate to be granted two of the largest marble quarries there in collaboration with the local government,” said Mohammed Yahya al Shabibi, Chief Executive Officer — Gulf Mining Group. “The first marble blocks are due to begin arriving by sea via the Port of Sohar in March, for cutting and polishing at our plant in Buraimi. These are superior types of marble that will add to our product portfolio.”
Gulf Mining Group, which launched mining operations in 2005, operates a modern plant in Buraimi with a capacity to process 40,000 sq metres of marble per month. According to Al Shabibi, the company recently turned its attention to quarrying opportunities overseas following challenges in sourcing suitable qualities of marble for its Buraimi plant locally.
“We presently have only one marble quarry in operation, which is not enough to meet our specific requirements. Our international clients keep looking for a wider choice of colours, and because we couldn’t acquire new quarries for one reason or the other, we decided to invest abroad,” the CEO said.
Gulf Mining is gearing up to receive initially around 500 marble blocks per month. Imports are projected to ramp up to 1,500 blocks per month within the next two years, he said.
Significantly, the Group is also weighing plans to invest in a polishing plant in Suhar dedicated to the processing of Albanian marble, said Al Shabibi. “We are in discussion with authorities there for the lease of land. At the same time, we have a commitment to establish similar processing capacity in Albania itself as part of our obligations to the government there.”
Of late, Gulf Mining Group has also been strengthening its presence in the wider region, according to the CEO. Last month, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with authorities in Egypt for the lease of marble and granite quarries, output from which will partly be shipped to Oman for further processing. The company also plans to invest in processing capacity in Egypt as part of its licensing commitments, he said.
Commencing operations as a miner of chrome ore in 2005, Gulf Mining Group has since diversified its interests into other minerals and other economic activities, encompassing manganese, marble, limestone, iron ore, laterite, shipping, minerals trading, and hospitality services.
The Group’s assets in the Sultanate include a chrome upgradation plant, ferrochrome smelter, string of marble quarries, and warehousing facilities as well. Besides Oman, the Group also has a presence in a number of countries around the world.