Muscat, March 11
Rocks of Oman have always been attracting geologists, but now they might be holding opportunities for entrepreneurs, says Dr Ali bin Salem al Rajhi, Director-General of Research and Geological Survey, Public Authority for Mining.
Mining is considered one of the main sources of diversification of Oman’s economy standing second to oil and gas industry.
Oman has the whole sequence of the ophiolite from A to Z, which is not available in other countries because in the Sultanate it is possible to see them with one to six km in thickness.
“The future of minerals is promising and I encourage geologists and mining engineers to do their own business in this field,” said Dr Ali.
According to statistics (2015) from the Public Authority of Mining, 75 per cent of production of minerals is for building materials, 14 per cent limestone, 6 per cent gypsum, 2 per cent marble and 2 per cent other minerals. The focus is also on producing finished products.
“As of now, gypsum has become the most prominent mineral for export after building materials,” said Dr Ali.
One must have qualification and the experience, said an industry expert who is also a member of the Economic Diversification Pillar of National Innovation Strategy supervised by The Research Council.
“They can have their own small mines for different minerals and run it themselves. This is a good chance for them while it also provides job opportunities. Each quarry or mine will create jobs for quite a few graduates, including geologists and engineers. This is an excellent opportunity,” he added.
As for the young geologists, they can join the existing companies until they gain experience. “Once they have the knowledge, with capital they can become independent. The education in the field requires training while studying, including internships,” said Dr Ali (pictured).
While the number of copper mining companies is increasing, mining of chromite has been going on in Oman since 2010.
They are distributed in the ophiolite sequence. More than 60 to 70 companies are working in this area, extracting chromite. “These are very small mines but they hold great potential for mining copper and chrome,” said Dr Ali.
If one is to look at the mineral distribution, the ophiolite sequence is Al Hajar Mountains and they hold the metallic minerals. “By metallic minerals, we mean copper, chromite, gold, iron ore and manganese. There are other minerals too but these are what we are focusing on now,” said Dr Ali.
On the other hand, other parts of Oman have industrial rocks situated in different environment. “Sedimentology, marble, limestone, dolomite and gypsum — we have all this. Limestone is all over Oman — the white and yellow mountains are based on limestone and marble as well as dolomite.
Muscat, March 11