Duqm - Port of Duqm is in negotiation with four mineral processing and refining companies to set up projects at the industrial zone’s mining cluster. These mineral processing companies include three foreign firms from the Middle East and Europe and one from Oman, Reggy Vermeulen, commercial director of Port of Duqm, told Times of Oman. These companies are planning to process minerals like limestone to make panels or primary refining facility for other minerals. However, it is a long-term plan as the zone has to be ready with utilities like natural gas and power. The companies are also studying the sector law, which was announced by the government last year. The government wants mineral products to be processed in the country to get value addition. As per the new regulation, mining companies are not allowed to export minerals in raw forms, rather companies are expected to add value for exporting products.
“We are also considering import of minerals in big quantities to add value and export it.” Elaborating on the advantages of setting up mineral processing plants at Duqm, Vermeulen said the logistics, land and natural gas are important factors for such projects. The Special Economic Zone Authority Duqm will provide land and investors can use the port for exporting products. Plans are also afoot to build a 250-km long pipeline to transport natural gas to industries coming up in Duqm from Saih Al Nihayda in Central Oman. Vermeulen also said that availability of natural gas is also important for the project and the pipeline project is expected to be completed by 2017-18. By the time the mineral processing plants are ready, natural gas will also be available. “It takes one to one-and-a-half years to finalise the mineral projects.”
The port authorities are also working on a plan to export minerals within two to three months, mainly to India and upper Gulf. “The market for limestone is not good now. We are working on to export the first few batches of minerals to overseas markets.” The mineral producers, which are in discussion with the port authorities, will use the port’s break bulk terminal for exporting their products to several countries. The 300-metre dedicated break bulk terminal is the last part of a 2.2 kilometre-long commercial quay, whose substructure is substantially complete. The commercial quay is divided into three main areas — 300 metres of cargo terminal, 1.6-kms of container terminal and 300 metres for a break bulk terminal. In fact, the potential of mining is huge in Central Oman as the region has rich deposits of limestone, gypsum, and silica sand. Limestone is abundant around Duqm port and an extensive geological mapping has identified two main areas with nearly timeless quantities of high quality limestone.
The Al Safiya area is located 15km west of the port and is primarily intended for the cement industry. In the Al Hydaybah area, 15 to 20km south of the port, thick layers of white limestone are present with potential for lime production. The Port of Duqm offers facilities for the export of industrial minerals and for setting up of mineral related industries. A fully equipped 6,000 hectares industrial area is being developed, with its proposed road connection towards north and south Oman. Industrial mineral resources are abundant and diversified in Oman, and some of them are located very close to the port such as white limestone or silica sands. Referring to the performance of the port in handling cargos, Vermeulen said the port has handled 65 cargo ships over the last one year, ever since it commenced early operations. “We have handled pipes, oil rigs and logistics supply for an offshore oil field at Masirah.”
(Source: Times of Oman)