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Oman Chromite, MDO partnership to unlock new chromite reserves

Oman Chromite1
Oman Chromite1

Oman Chromite Company, a publicly traded company listed on the Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX), has signed an agreement with Minerals Development Oman (MDO), the state-owned mining and minerals processing flagship of the Sultanate of Oman, for the joint exploration and prospection of chromite ore at two exploration sites located in the governorates of Al Batinah North and Al Buraimi.

The agreement was announced by Oman Chromite in a filing to the Capital Market Authority (CMA) and confirmed by MDO via a Twitter post on Thursday.

MDO, which is affiliated to Oman Investment Authority (OIA) – the integrated sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman – already represents the government’s 15 per cent equity interest in Oman Chromite. The latter was established via Royal Decree in 1991 to exploit and monetize the country’s chromite deposits.

The joint investment agreement will enable Oman Chromite to ramp up its exploration and development of chromite deposits to help sustain production which hit a record 45,195 tonnes in 2021, up from 10,597 tonnes in 2020, registering an increase of 426 per cent.

“The increase in production was achieved as a result of the company’s efforts in the development of its exploration and mining operations and as a result of the start of work in the Mahrah mine, for which the mining licence was obtained in June 2021,” said the company’s Chairman in the Directors’ Report for 2021.

For MDO, the new agreement with Oman Chromite is the latest in a growing list of pacts it has concluded with a host of local and international players to help develop the country’s mineral resources. Last month, MDO’s CEO, Eng Nasser al Maqbali, outlined plans to progress as many as eight sizable projects and initiatives during 2022 that will further invigorate the country’s mining sector.

A business plan drawn up by MDO for the next five years enshrines a commitment to, among other things, ramping up mining exploration and development investments, developing a strong mineral resource base, and initiating downstream ventures that add value to locally produced raw materials.

Investments are planned in a number of upstream developments, centring on the exploitation of copper, limestone, dolomite, silica and sea salt resources. At the same time, a raft of downstream manufacturing activities involving the commercialisation of titanium and aluminium alloy products will be progressed during the year. These plans come against the backdrop of a doubling of the value of MDO’s net assets to around RO 138.3 million in 2021, with net profits rising to RO 73.2 million for the year.

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