Strategic & Precious Metals Processing (SPMP) Oman, the first antimony and gold ore exporter and the only gold processing facility in Oman, announced that its ramp-up of antimony production is continuing at a steady pace moving towards operating at 50 percent capacity in the near future, which it expects to move to full capacity by the end of the year, subject to any impact caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
SPMP was established in Oman in 2014 as a joint venture between the Government of Oman, through Oman Investment Fund (OIF), holding 40 per cent equity interest, UK’s Tri-Star Resources PLC (40 per cent equity holder) and UAE’s Dutco Natural Resources (DNR) (20 per cent equity holder).
SPMP started producing and selling gold in November 2019.
SPMP has signed a term sheet with local banks to provide a $60 million term loan facility. In addition, the banks have expressed an interest in providing a working capital facility of up to $ 45 million (out of a total required of $ 60 million as announced early this year) subject to meeting certain criteria.
A total of $40 million has been injected by OIF and DNR into SPMP on terms that have yet to be agreed between the shareholders.
The company said that to date the COVID-19 pandemic has had little impact upon the operations of SPMP. The situation is changing rapidly, however, with access to the Sohar Free Zone due to be restricted. SPMP is working with the authorities to agree a plan that allows critical employees to continue working, on a safe basis, to ensure that production can be maintained.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact upon the antimony market and prices, in particular France and Belgium (the two biggest consumers of antimony metal outside of China), are in lockdown. Nevertheless, this is not expected to have a significant impact upon the long-term viability of the plant as prices are expected to recover in the medium term. The COVID-19 pandemic may have an impact upon the supply of feedstock whilst there are restrictions in movement and mining activities.