Oman’s new mining law is expected to be approved in early 2018 and the first bid rounds for mining concessions to follow soon after.

Hilal al-Busaidi, CEO of Oman’s Public Authority of Mining told MEED on the sidelines of The Mining Show in Dubai on 2 October that the mining law is now ready to be discussed by parliament.

Mining is one of the five key sectors targeted for growth in Oman’s 9th Development Plan covering 2016-20. The government wants to exploit the sultanate’s metallic and industrial mineral deposits and is in the process of mapping potential investment blocks.

“We have an abundance of industrial minerals like gypsum and limestone and big investment needs to go into this area,” said Al-Busaidi. “We have the infrastructure to export these minerals and we also have the regional market, the Indian market. We will be opening up very soon ready-made investment blocks [where] we obtain the no objections from the environment and water authorities ourselves.”

In July, the Public Authority of Mining appointed a consortium led by the UK’s SRK Consulting to formulate a 10-year national strategy for developing Oman’s mining sector. The study is expected to be completed within six months.

The other firms in the consortium are US-based legal firm Mayer Brown and UK energy and mining consultancy Wood Mackenzie.