Promising exports: $10m plant eyes US, European and Mideast markets
An Omani-Indian joint venture has announced the commercial launch of its new engineered quartz stone products manufacturing plant at Sohar Free Zone – an investment that will further strengthen the Sultanate’s credentials as leading a manufacturer and exporter of natural and engineered stones for the global construction industry.
Madhav Surfaces FZC LLC, a partnership of Al Khanjar Commercial Agencies LLC, a subsidiary of well-diversified Omani business house Khimji Ramdas LLC, and Madhav Ashok Ventures Private Limited (MAVPL), a leading Indian manufacturer of marble and granite surfaces, has invested around $10 million in the establishment of a high-tech plant at the free zone in Suhar.
The Indian JV partner stated in a filing to the local stock exchange on Monday that the Omani plant successfully commenced commercial production last week after a trial run of its plant and machinery.
“With the start of this project, we will now be able to cater to demand for engineered stone in the US, European and Middle East Markets,” the Indian company said.
The announcement comes nearly 18 months after Sohar Port and Freezone signed a land lease agreement with the JV partners covering a roughly 20,000 sq metre site for the establishment of the quartz stone manufacturing plant within the free zone.
The facility has been designed for the manufacturing of quartz slabs and other quartz products using chrome ore and calcined lime from the local market, to be exported to the USA and Europe, alongside the polishing of quartz slabs, the investors said at the time.
Output from the new Suhar plant will complement Oman’s already extensive offering of natural stone products manufactured from blocks or slabs of marble and granite for use as floorings, wall claddings, kitchen tops and other construction purposes.
While natural stone products enjoy huge appeal globally, engineered stone products are rapidly gaining popularity as well. Unlike marble and granite, which are cut and polished from slabs or blocks, engineered stone is manufactured from a mix of quartz aggregate chips. Blended with a polyester resin binder and other additives, the mixture is then subjected to heavy pressure and later cured in a kiln.
The process ensures that some of the flaws inherent in natural stone products, such as porosity, small holes, and susceptibility to staining, are completely eliminated. Engineered stone products are uniform and consistent in dimension and shade; they are also more scratch resistant, thus making them ideal as floorings and countertops. They can also be cleaned and maintained with normal or soapy water.