Oman Rail Mineral Line elicits strong interest

By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT: Jan 14 – Oman Rail — part of the wholly government-owned logistics arm Oman Global Logistics Group (OGL) — says it has garnered significant international investment interest in the new Mineral Line network designed to harness the massive mineral potential of the Sultanate. Mohammed al Mahruqi, Project Manager — Oman Rail, said much headway has already been made in preparing the groundwork for the implementation of the landmark project. The latest edition of OGL’s newsletter quotes Al Mahruqi as stating that a number of important project milestones related to the Mineral Line venture have been completed.  It includes the concept design, corridor identification, and technical and operational parameters, while land acquisition has commenced as well.
Currently under development are the technical specifications of the terminals proposed along the route of the network — a task being undertaken in collaboration with a technical consultant, he said, noting that Oman Rail is eyeing a mid-2017 timeline for the completion of this important milestone.
Boding well for the early implementation of the project is the interest expressed by foreign players, according to the Project Manager.  “We are also working to secure funding, and have found lots of interest from foreign investors in this project,” he said.
The proposed Mineral Line venture is one of several logistics-related investment opportunities that the government, represented by Tanfeedh, says is key to accelerating non-oil economic diversification and thereby fuelling investment growth and job creation for Omanis.
At the core of the initiative is a proposal for a 625 km railway line connecting Shuwaymiyah and Manji  — areas blessed with abundant mineral resources chiefly limestone and gypsum — with Duqm Port.  This includes a connection to Thamrait, another mineral-rich area, envisaged in the second phase of the project.  Thamrait will also be linked with Salalah Port as part of the National Rail Network.
Provisional studies conducted by Oman Rail have estimated the freight traffic potential of the proposed mineral line to include 5 million tonnes of gypsum, 5 million tonnes of limestone, and around 1 million tonne of oilfield equipment annually. Al Mahruqi said the Mineral Line project is being prioritised in light of its potential as a driver of economic growth.
“The Mineral Line is an enabler for Oman.  Exporting the Sultanate’s vast reserves of gypsum and limestone will unleash the mining industry, and significantly enhance the contribution of both mining and logistics to the GDP.  It will generate local jobs, foreign income, and move the nation closer to its goal of becoming a significant player in the logistics industry.” Oman Rail, the Project Manager said, is also awaiting the findings of a study that is key to affirming the Sultanate’s mineral potential. “Obviously, we need buyers for these resources to move forward with the project.  A buyer will require proof and confirmation of exactly what we have available,” Al Mahruqi said.
In this regard, the national rail company is working closely with all stakeholders, including the Public Authority for Mining (PAM), Mining Development Oman (MDO), Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm (SEZAD), and Port of Duqm.
Elements of the nation’s mining potential will be highlighted at the Oman Minerals & Mining Exhibition and Conference, which opens at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre tomorrow.
The three-day event, which runs from January 16-18, has been organised by Oman Expo under the auspices of the Public Authority for Mining.