Oman - Country Commercial Guide
Mining and Minerals

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. 

Last published date: 2021-10-24

Overview

Mining is one of the Omani government’s focus sectors under its economic diversification program. Oman’s mining industry has attracted increasing interest from both foreign and local operators as Oman was the first GCC producer and exporter of ferrochrome. The government established the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) in 2014 to regulate the sector, and two years later it established Minerals Development Oman (MDO) as a new holding company to serve as the executive arm. In August 2020, a royal decree dissolved PAM and transferred its powers to the newly created Ministry of Energy and Minerals, which could increase transparency and competitiveness in Oman’s mining sector.

The Law of Mineral Wealth of 2019 contains provisions relating to exploration and expropriation activities, as well as the types of permits and concession agreements available. The law also increased the minimum mining license period from one year to five years, introduced flexible royalties, and broadened the scope and authority of PAM. Coinciding with the mining law’s publication, in February 2020, PAM announced 110 new mining blocks for exploration and investment, and issued new licenses to several companies. In July 2021, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (MEM) created a new unit, Industry Development of Energy and Minerals, to focus on the downstream processing of minerals and value addition in-country instead of exporting unprocessed raw materials.

In August 2021, MEM announced that it was in the process of setting up large concession mining sites and smaller public mining sites for local and international investors to bid on. During the same month, MEM floated a tender which invited bids to develop an e-Mining Solution to serve as a dedicated database on mineral blocks and mining licenses and other government services.

Although numerous quarrying and mining operations are underway, Oman’s mineral resources are still relatively untapped, with large deposits of metals and industrial minerals waiting to be unearthed. Oman’s mountains host intact and exposed ophiolites, which could contain metal deposits such as chromite, cobalt, copper, gold, lead, magnesium, manganese, nickel, palladium, platinum, silver, vanadium, and zinc. The following are some of the minerals in Oman that hold particular promise:

Gypsum:  Oman is the world’s largest gypsum exporter by weight, shipping approximately 9.01 million tons of in 2019 to ASEAN and South/East African countries, according to a local news article.

Chromite:  Approximately 30 million metric tons of chromite ore are located in Oman, according to the Oman Chromite Company. Oman is exporting metallurgical grade chromite ores in response to rising demand from China and shortages of ferrochrome worldwide.

Copper: Oman has identified large-scale copper mining as a strategic project and several foreign mining companies are active in Oman. A joint venture with an Australia-based mining firm plans to construct a copper concentration plant that would produce one million metric tons per year. In September 2020, British firm Savannah Resources sold its mining permits for two copper blocks in Oman to Australia-listed mine development company Force Commodities

Other Materials: Surveys have indicated deposits of asbestos, coal, iron ore, lead, manganese, nickel, silver, and zinc.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Main Metallic Minerals:  Copper, Chromite, Laterite, Manganese

Industrials Minerals and Rocks:  Limestone, Marble, Dolomite, Gypsum, Silica sands and Quartzite, Clays and Shale, Salt, Coal, Olivine, Kaoline, Salt, Aggregates

Opportunities

PAM has announced plans to tender 15 to 20 pre-approved mining blocks and promised to issue exploration licenses within 14 to 20 weeks of the successful bid. Local press reported future pre-approved blocks for investment hold rich deposits of chromite, silica, gypsum, carbonate, attapulgite, clay, basalt, laterite, and feldspars.  Progress on these opportunities has been slow as the restructuring of the sector is still underway.

Although foreign firms can acquire mining permits, foreign investors still face considerable bureaucratic and environmental challenges and may only be able to enter the market as service contractors or joint venture partners with Omani firms.

Oman has longstanding plans to develop an internal rail network for the transportation of minerals from the southern interior to the Port of Duqm for processing and refining.

Resources

Ministry of Energy and Minerals

 “Direct Line” Webinar on Oman’s Mining Industry and presentations: https://om.usembassy.gov/u-s-companies-attend-webinar-on-omans-new-mining-regulations/

Oxford Business Group Mining Research