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Conserving meteorite wealth a national priority, says official


MUSCAT, DEC 17 - The Sultanate is making efforts to recover 5,000 meteorites found in the country and currently located in Switzerland, the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has announced. Salem bin Mohammad al Mahrouqi, the Under-Secretary, pointed out that the sizes of these meteorites are varied and some are blocks with a weight of more than 10 kilogrammes, and others are small in size. He also mentioned that some of meteorites are very rare and have a great material and moral value.

He indicated that the Sultanate is the third country in the world in terms of abundance of meteorites on its soil, according to statistics from Washington University. The statistics show that the Sultanate is one of the countries in the world where meteorites are found, as their number is estimated at 6,558 meteorite pieces. It is said that the flow of meteorites to the Earth has been stable for 50,000 years, and the flow of meteorites weighing more than 10 grammes is estimated to be 36 to 116 meteorites per million square kilometres annually, which means falling of 11 to 36 meteorites every year on the Sultanate’s 309,000 square kilometres of land.

The Public Authority for Mining (PAM) strives to preserve these treasures and exploit them in science and economy. In March 2019, the new Law of Mineral Wealth came into force. It strengthens the role of the PAM in harnessing the potential of the Sultanate’s abundant mineral resources in supporting the national economy. The law specifies the rights and obligations of investors in the sector. It also obligates investors to contribute to the development of the local community. It sets out criteria for identifying, appropriating and exploiting mining areas of economic feasibility and offering them for investment and development in a competitive tender, based on the principles of transparency and fairness.

According to law, those found engaging in mining activities without a valid licence are liable to prison terms ranging from 1 to 3 years, in addition to fines extending from RO 20,000 to RO 100,000. Moreover, the new law obliges every citizen and resident of the Sultanate’s land to register any antique heritage holdings with the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and get a certificate of possession to avoid legal liabilities.

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