CONRAD PRABHU –
MUSCAT, MAY 14 –
A study conducted by the Geological Society of Oman (GSO) has underlined the potential for Omani micro and small businesses to get involved in the Sultanate’s increasingly promising mining and mineral processing sector.
The study, presented at a recent industry expo held in the city, pinpoints investment opportunities in, among other resources, small-scale marble and laterite quarrying, natural and ornamental stone cladding, and kaolin and gypsum mining.
However, GSO representative Abdul Rehman al Harthy stressed the need for proactive measures by the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) to ensure that Omani small and micro enterprises are not daunted by cumbersome licensing procedures and funding hurdles as they contemplate forays into this lucrative sector.
At the same time, he called upon young Omani entrepreneurs and professionals to marshal the courage to reconnect with an industry that lies at the heart of Oman’s millennia-old history. Micro and small investments in the mining sector have the potential to not only create employment for fellow nationals, but also support development in rural communities where many of these opportunities are currently located, Al Harthy stressed.
Awaiting exploitation is a plethora of marble quarries across Jaalan Bani Bu Ali and Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan wilayats in Sharqiyah South Governorate, according to the expert.
“There are a lot of small outcrops, some of which are highly fractured and thus uneconomical for large mining companies, but suitable for small investors. Here, we are talking about projects with a capital of RO 50,000 or less, which can generate good revenues for themselves, while employing around four geologists and two labourers. This approach also addresses the issue of employment generation.”
Equally prospective are opportunities for investment in small-scale quarrying of natural stones for ornamental and cladding purposes, said al Harthy. Demand for naturally available Hawasina mudstone, micretic limestone and Very Fine Grained Sandstone is currently growing among home-builders, he said, while also stressing the potential use of these materials for long-lasting floorings and decorative tiling.
Likewise, laterite stone can be quarried in the Sharqiyah North Governorate for use either as decorative tiles or as raw material in cement manufacturing. In the Huqf, opportunities abound for the mining of kaolin – a key ingredient in pottery-making, as well as in the paints industry. Gypsum too, while currently exploited by major players, is also wide open to micro investors looking to support a promising value-adding sector specialising in the manufacture of gypsum boards, Plaster of Paris, and soil conditioners, he added.
CONRAD PRABHU –