The first of four ferrochrome plants under development in Sohar, northern Oman, is expected to commence operations in early 2013, according to the chief operating officer (COO) of Freezone Sohar.

Ferrochrome, an alloy of chromite and iron mainly used in the production of stainless steel, will allow Oman to add value to its chromite resources.

“There are four ferrochrome industries establishing themselves [in Freezone Sohar],” said Neemlima Vyas. “The first ferrochrome will be produced in the first quarter of 2013.”

Companies developing ferrochrome include India’s Metkore Alloys, local company Gulf Mining Group and a joint venture of Oman-based Al-Tamman Trading and India-based Indsil Group, which is likely to be the first plant to start production.

Freezone Sohar, which started as a greenfield project in 2003, has now leased 40 per cent of its total 500 hectares, Vyas said. It is a 50-50 joint venture between the Oman government and the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam.