Mineral Development Oman (MDO) — the Sultanate’s mining sector flagship — has been tasked with formulating a strategy for harnessing potentially prodigious industrial mineral resources located in the Al Shuwaymiyah — Manji area of Dhofar Governorate, a top government official announced here yesterday.
Eng Hilal al Busaidy (pictured), Chief Executive Officer of the Public Authority for Mining (PAM), said the Al Shuwaymiyah-Manji mineral zone — encompassing an area of over 3,000 sq kilometres, is home to “world record beating” reserves of limestone and gypsum.
The quality of these resources is equally unrivalled, he noted.
“There is a directive from the government that we give our strategic partner, MDO, the opportunity to take the lead in terms of how we can develop this area,” said Al Busaidy. “The area is remote, and requires infrastructure; we also need to bring big investors to the area, and secure markets as well for the output. We are working on formulating something on the lines of a Mineral Village, where all kinds of mining activities will be facilitated.”
Speaking at a press conference spotlighting the upcoming Oman Mining Expo later this month, the CEO of PAM said the remote location of Al Shuwaymiyah-Manji — situated roughly midway along the 600km distance between Duqm and Salalah ports — necessitates viable logistics solutions to bring the mineral resources to a maritime hub for processing and eventual export.
“What will be necessary is a way of transporting these huge quantities of minerals to an area where we can process it or export the raw materials to overseas markets,” said the official. “There are three options to get this done: One – we build a port nearby for the transportation of these minerals; Two – we look at transportation from the site by rail; and Three — we move the minerals overland by truck, which is not economical. The Ministry of Transport and Communications is looking at the optimum transportation mode,” he noted.
Earlier, authorities had outlined plans for a dedicated Mineral Railway Line linking Al Shuwaymiyah-Manji with the Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and the nearby Port of Duqm. Oman Rail, a subsidiary of Asyad Group — the government’s transportation and logistics flagship – was assigned the task of putting together a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) framework encompassing all aspects of the ambitious endeavour to commercialise the prolific mineral wealth of the Al Shuwaymiyah-Manji area. A Task Force was also established to ensure that all of the key stakeholders worked in sync to ensure the smooth and timely delivery of the Mineral Railway project.
Established in 2016 with a capital of RO 100 million, MDO is as a partnership of four Omani sovereign wealth funds and investment entities: State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), Oman Investment Fund (OIF), Takamul Investment, and Oman National Investments Development Company (TANMIA).