E-platform for Oman’s mining sector on cards

Muscat: Work on the development of a dedicated e-portal for Oman’s mining sector is expected to kick off this year – an initiative that promises to significantly enhance the investment appeal and competitiveness of the Sultanate’s increasingly important mining and mineral processing industry.

It follows the appointment of a consultant to prepare the framework of an electronic platform that allows for all of the key processes governing applications for mining licenses and permits from the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) to be made available online.

Well-known professional services firm EY has been awarded a contract by the Public Authority for Mining to outline the framework for the portal ahead of its planned rollout under a separate contract.

“The aim of this initiative is to assess the e-readiness of PAM to deliver government online services and develop a detailed scope of work for transforming the services by a consultant, then implementing it,” said the Implementation Support and Follow-up Unit (ISFU), a task force set up within the Diwan of Royal Court to oversee the speedy development of a large portfolio of projects and initiatives designed to enhance Oman’s economic diversification.

“The primary objective of implementing this initiative is to improve the delivery of government services and e-Services in PAM by simplifying and streamlining government processes required to deliver the online services, and enabling customer-centric government e-Services for individuals and businesses,” the high-powered unit said in its newly published Annual Report 2019.

Since the categorisation of mining as a key non-oil sector with potential to drive economic diversification, laws and regulations governing the industry have been overhauled to enhance the sector’s appeal to local and international investment. With support from ISFU, a new regime of Pre-Approved Mining Blocks was unveiled last year, paving the way for investors to compete for commercially attractive concessions without having to face any bureaucratic delays and licensing hassles.

As part of its remit, EY assessed business processes at PAM, proposed enhancements to these processes, and mapped the framework for aligning the proposed eMining Platform to the existing eOman architecture and core IT infrastructure, while also factoring in proposals made during the Mining Lab.  It has also developed formats for Service Level Agreements to be signed with other stakeholder agencies whose approvals are necessary as part of the permitting processs.

Outlining further steps in the delivery of the portal, ISFU added: “In 2020, the tender will be floated and a tendering process will be followed to select a contractor based on certain criteria to implement the outcomes of the consultancy study, which will be finalised through certain phases. Also, the initiative will enter the implementation phase of the system, and PAM will run trials of the system and will focus on solving any issues until the system is ready to be run for all users.”