Plans for the commercial exploitation of a potentially prodigious dolomite mine in Qurayat in Muscat Governorate are making headway with efforts focused on securing a mining license from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.
The principal investor behind the initiative is Kunooz Oman Holding, one of the largest private-led mining and mineral processing companies in the Sultanate. Twenty per cent of the group’s equity is held by a sovereign wealth fund currently incorporated within the recently restructured Oman Investment Authority (OIA).
Kunooz Holding, which already has sizable investments in the mining and development of Oman’s gypsum, gabbro, limestone and marble resources, in addition to the manufacture of construction materials and lime, has its sights on, among other mineral prospects, a promising dolomite deposit in Qurayat. A scoping study has estimated the potential of the mine’s dolomite resource at over 250 million tonnes.
Once given the green-light for mining and development, Kunooz plans to produce up to three million tonnes per annum of raw dolomite. Based on the magnesium oxide content of the ore, it is proposed to be delineated into either high grade dolomite for the production of magnesium metal or low grade dolomite with less than one per cent silica, which will then be earmarked for export to overseas steel producers.
But given the challenges of securing the necessary approvals from a host of a government agencies whose nod is a prerequisite for any mining project, the erstwhile Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) – then operating under the auspices of the Diwan of Royal Court – had stepped in to assist with the approvals processes. It has been collaborating with key stakeholders notably the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, and the Royal Oman Police.
Meanwhile, an access road to the site has been readied, while a topographical survey of the site has been completed as well. Based on the results of the resource studies, a decision will be taken as to whether the dolomite can be processed within Oman or earmarked for export.