Muscat – The Ministry of Energy and Minerals, and Minerals Development Oman (MDO), an affiliate of Oman Investment Authority (OIA), signed 12 exploration-to-mining concession agreements on Wednesday.
The agreements were signed by H E Dr Mohammed al Rumhy, Minister of Energy and Minerals, and Dr Badar al Kharusi, chairman of MDO. A representative from OIA was also present during the signing ceremony, according to a press statement.
This step comes as the Ministry of Energy and Minerals adopted a new strategy to develop the minerals sector through concession agreements by including legal, technical, and financial terms to be signed between the ministry and investors as an investment management method to manage the minerals exploration in concession areas.
The total size of the concession areas included in the agreements is around 21,480 sqkm. They include a number of potential minerals, mainly strategic minerals (metallic) such as copper, gold, and chromium. The agreements cover eight sites mostly located in North and South Batinah, Dhahirah, Buraimi, Dakhiliyah, and North and South Sharqiah. One site located in the wilayat of Yanqul with an area of 20 sqkm is a copper concession area that has reached the advanced exploration phase to be ready for mining.
The industrial minerals (non-metallic) included in the agreements are dolomite, silica, gypsum, and limestone in four other areas located in the governorates of Muscat and Dhofar. Three of the concession areas, which have reached the advance exploration phase to be ready for mining are located in Shaleem with a total area size of 1,489 sqkm and include ores like dolomite, limestone, and gypsum.
H E Rumhy stated that Ministry of Energy and Minerals is working towards the development and management of minerals sector in an effective and professional manner that goes in line with the sector’s aspirations as one of the economic diversification sectors. “The ministry has adopted a new methodology to develop this sector through establishing mining concession agreements of large areas similar to the practice in oil and gas sector. Those areas will be offered to local and international companies specialised in exploration and minerals extraction as per an exploration and mining concession agreement. The agreements are linked with the creation of In-Country Value (ICV) in mineral ores in the sultanate, and establishment of downstream mining and manufacturing industries, in addition to creating more job opportunities.”
Dr Kharusi stated that signing of these agreements mark a significant milestone for MDO’s future. “MDO has promising aspirations to invest in exploration activities across Oman targeting several strategic commodities and we hope that the promising results of these exploration activities will be a solid cornerstone to attract strategic investors and ultimately promote the Omani mining sector, in collaboration with our esteemed partner Ministry of Energy and Minerals.”
He added that these agreements are a starting point for exploration and evaluation of the current and new mineral resources. “MDO will launch an airborne geophysical survey, followed by geochemical studies, which are aimed at identifying the potential of several minerals in these areas. Moreover, these concessions will enable mining and exploration of resources, especially copper in the wilayat of Yanqul and industrial minerals in wilayat of Shaleem.”
The ministry through identifying the concession areas in minerals sector, aims to overcome the challenges faced in licensing (which is now limited to public sites only) through: