Oman: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Topics Covered

Welcome to Oman
Overview of Resources
Metals
Industrial Minerals
Fossil Fuels
Investment
Sources

 

Welcome to Oman

 

Oman is a part of the Middle East and is located between Yemen and UAE. The total area of the country is 309,500 km2, and it has a population of 3,090,150 as of July 2012. The country experiences mostly dry desert climate.

The national flag of Oman.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook

Oman’s middle-income economy relies heavily on its oil resources, which has been dwindling over the years. However, the economy is still sustained by increased oil production as advanced oil recovery methods have been implemented. High global oil prices coupled with increased production provided the country with extra time to diversify and extra revenue to invest in other sectors. The government is now looking at gas-based industries as the next alternative. Oman’s GDP in 2011 was $82.82 billion.

Oman has a vast wealth of industrial rocks, minerals and metals. Some of the natural resources of Oman are petroleum, natural gas, copper, asbestos, limestone, chromium, and gypsum. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry manages the country’s mining activities according to the Mining Law and issues mining licenses, resolves mining sector disputes, and protects the environment.

Overview of Resources

In 2010, Oman produced aluminum, clay, copper, gypsum, iron and steel, low-grade iron oxide, cement, chromite, quartz, salt, limestone, marble, refined petroleum products.

Recent reports on the quarrying and mining operations in Oman are as follows:

  • 150 quarrying and mining operations for fill material
  • 71 for chromite
  • 183 for crusher
  • 57 for marble
  • three for sandstone
  • four each for gypsum, laterite and clay
  • two each for copper and limestone
  • one for salt

The map of Oman. Image Credit: CIA Factbook

Metals

Sohar aluminum smelter operated by Sohar Aluminium increased production by 4.6% in 2010 to 367,000 Mt from 352,000 t in 2009. In 2010, Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill Co. (Gramco) of Bahrain constructed a $350 million aluminum rolling mill next to Sohar Aluminium’s smelter.

In 2010, Oman’s first chromite ore concentration plant at Wadi Mahram was inaugurated by Gulf Mining. The plant is said to have a capacity of 180,000 t/yr. Al Tamman and Indsil Group of India had plans to build a $70 million chromite smelter at the Sohar Industrial Estate in the same year. The smelter’s capacity would be 75,000 Mt/yr and its carbon ferrochromite output was used purely for export.

Mawarid produced copper from the Shinas Mine in the Al Batinah region. The company had been mining copper since 2008, and had produced about 500,000 t of ore by the end of 2010.

Vale Oman Pelletizing Co. LLC (VOPC) (a subsidiary of Vale S.A. of Brazil) started building a $1.35 billion direct-reduction pelletizing plant and distribution center in 2010 at the Sohar Industrial Estate with a 9-Mt/yr-capacity.

Industrial Minerals

The domestic consumption of cement in Oman was estimated to be 5 Mt in 2010, and is expected to increase to 6.5 Mt/yr in 2013. Raysut Cement increased its production capacity to 3.8 Mt/yr in 2010 from 2.9 Mt/yr in the previous year with the installation of a fourth mill.

In 2010, Al Madinah Cement Co. L.L.C., a member of Al Buraimi Group, constructed a greenfield cement plant in Buraimi Governorate. The plant is designed with a production capacity of 750,000 t/yr.

Recent reports reveal that Oman has about 950 million t of gypsum reserves and more than 500 million t of dolomite deposits.

Fossil Fuels

Oman’s coal deposits do not meet the grade and specifications required for use in thermal power plants. The country thereby depends on imports.

Oman’s crude oil production is only seventh in comparison with other Middle East countries and accounted for about 1% of total world crude oil production in 2010.

Investment

Experts state that Oman’s mineral sector will continue to grow significantly in the next five years as the country has assured global investment from Canada, India, and other Gulf countries. Another reason is that the royalty charged by the government is quite favorable.

To further attract foreign and private investors, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) is getting ready to organize the country’s first mines and mineral exhibition and conference this year to showcase its unexploited mineral and metal wealth.

About seven or eight large non-metallic mineral reserves have been located recently, which are essential in almost every industry. Global firms such as Timminco of Canada, Tata Chemicals, and Tata Iron & Steel Co (TISCO) of India, Rauch Ft of Austria, and Eastern Energy of Thailand have already been invited by the government to invest in the country.

Oman’s mining sector is all set to diversify and become strong in the future, according to experts.

Disclaimer: The Author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.

Sources

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G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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