Oman Rail ‘serious’ about Mineral Line project

MUSCAT, JUNE 19 –
Oman Rail, a subsidiary of Asyad Group — the maritime transport and logistics flagship of the Sultanate — says it is committed to delivering a much-anticipated Mineral Line project designed to support the commercialisation of the country’s abundant resources, although the timing of its implementation would hinge on a general improvement in the overall domestic and global economic environment.
Abdulrehman al Hatmi, Group CEO — Asyad Group, said the ambitious venture, connecting massive mineral deposits in Shuwaymiyah and Manji (in Dhofar Governorate) with the Port of Duqm, has evinced interest from potential investors.
“The railway will come, but it’s a matter of time; It’s getting the right structure to work with,” said Al Hatmi, adding: “But we are very serious about it; we are still putting a lot of effort into it.”
Oman Rail has been collaborating with the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) and the Mineral Development Oman (MDO), the wholly government owned mining investment flagship, in studying Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) based opportunities for the implementation of the project.
However, current economic circumstances — local and global —combined with other factors, notably weak global GDP growth, particularly in China, have come in the way of the project’s planned delivery, he said.
The best hope for the venture now rests with India as a potential destination for the mineral resources that will be unlocked by the proposed Mineral Line, Al Hatmi said. “India, with still 7 per cent GDP growth, is a great market for us. That is a target market for us too; I think they need more than 50 million tonnes per annum (of the resources); if we can secure that, then the railway from Shuwaymiyah — Manji to Duqm will become a reality.”
“We are also looking at options from other mining prospects to transport around 25 million tonnes. We are tying up with MDO to look at these projects,” he added.