oil and gas

Minerals Development Oman to advance eight key projects in 2022

May 5, 2022

Key goals: Development of industrial minerals, copper and sea salt to make headway, while several manufacturing plants set to progress

Muscat - Minerals Development Oman (MDO), the state-owned mining and minerals processing flagship of the Sultanate of Oman, has outlined plans to progress as many as eight sizable projects and initiatives during 2022 that will further invigorate the country’s mining sector.

Details shared by Eng Nasser al Maqbali, CEO, at the recent briefing by subsidiaries and affiliates of Oman Investment Authority (OIA), point to investments planned in a number of upstream developments, centring on the exploitation of copper, limestone, dolomite, silica and sea salt resources. At the same time, a raft of downstream manufacturing activities involving the commercialisation of titanium and aluminium alloy products will be progressed during the year.

These plans come against the backdrop of a doubling of the value of MDO’s net assets to around RO 138.3 million in 2021, with net profits rising to RO 73.2 million for the year, officials noted.

A business plan drawn up by the company for the next five years enshrines a commitment to, among other things, ramping up mining exploration and development investments, developing a strong mineral resource base, and initiating downstream ventures that add value to locally produced raw materials.

Among the most ambitious of the projects set to move forward this year is the Shaleem Industrial Minerals scheme in Dhofar Governorate. Covering an area of around 1,500 sq kilometres, the Shaleem site was the subject of a landmark concession agreement signed by MDO with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals in March. Various studies have attested to Shaleem’s prodigious reserves of limestone, dolomite and gypsum – industrial minerals with wide application in a number of key industries.

Equally promising is Naqa Salt – a joint venture between MDO and Shumookh (the investment arm of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates – Madayn). It centres of the harvesting of briny seawater from off the Wusta coast to produce high-purity sea salt that has extensive application in the hydrocarbon, petrochemicals and chemical industries. MDO is also been keenly evaluating the potential to extract industrial salt in commercial quantities from ‘produced water’, which is a byproduct of oil production from certain oilfields in the Sultanate of Oman.

Mazoon Mining, a joint venture between MDO and Oman Mining Company, is expected to make headway in the development of a promising copper-gold project located within Block 10 in Yanqul in Dhahirah Governorate. Total investment in the venture, targeting five copper deposits, is estimated at around $300 million.

At the downstream end, MDO is poised to emerge as a major player in the coming years as it diversifies its investments in a number of mineral processing and in-country value creating projects.

Notable is an initiative for the establishment of a project in Freezone Sohar for the production of titanium dioxide with an investment of around RO 43 million. MDO is a shareholder in the venture with a 35 per cent stake, while Stork International (a Vienna-headquartered international supplier of titanium materials) holds the remaining 65 per cent stake. The plant will have a capacity of 150,000 tonnes per year and will create more than 300 job opportunities.

Adding to its portfolio of downstream investments is Synergies Casting Oman (SCO), which is preparing to launch a first-of-its-kind alloy wheel manufacturing plant at Suhar Industrial City. MDO has a 14.8 per cent stake in the strategically important project, which utilises hot metal from the nearby smelter of Sohar Aluminium to produce its aluminium alloy wheels for the global automotive industry. At full capacity, the plant will manufacture 1.2 million alloy wheels for export primarily to markets in the United States and India.

zawya

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