New wave of investment to target 60MT of copper reserves in Oman

A strong rebound in international copper prices, bolstered by burgeoning global demand for the metal, is projected to spark a new wave of investment in copper mining and processing activities in the Sultanate, according to a leading industry expert.
David Price (pictured), Exploration Manager — Savannah Resources Oman, said the new wave — the third in the Sultanate’s modern history — has its sights on the estimated 60 million tonnes (MT) of copper ore distributed around multiple locations in northern parts of the Sultanate primarily in and around the Oman Ophiolite.
Addressing the 2nd Mining Investment Middle East & Central Asia Conference under way at the Sheraton Hotel Oman, he said global demand for the “high-value metal” continues to be buttressed by buoyant prices, presently averaging $6,600 per tonne, as well as other market underpinnings, notably the role of the London Metal Exchange (LME) in regulating trading in metal based commodities.
Future demand for copper, said Price, will be driven by, among other things, the phenomenal growth of the renewables sector, the advent of electric vehicles, and the rollout of new technologies – all of which will consume sizable quantities of the metal. Amid this positive outlook, investment in the Sultanate will be particularly advantageous because of three key factors: Oman’s political and economic stability, well-serviced infrastructure, and its well-established geological model for mining exploration and development, he noted.
Although copper has been mined for over 5,000 years in the Sultanate, post-Renaissance Oman has witnessed two waves of intensive mining activity, the expert explained.
The first ‘Copper Renaissance’ spanned the 1974-1994 timeframe following the discovery of abundant reserves by state-owned Oman Mining Company in Wadi Lasail. It yielded around 142,000 tonnes of copper from an estimated 19.2 million tonnes (MT) of copper ore mined during this period.
Output climbed to around 150,000 tonnes in the second wave, centring on the activities of Mawarid Mining, during the 2002 — 2015 period, said Price. Ore volumes mined during this period totalled around 7.2 MT.
In the current third wave, which technically began in 2012, investors will be looking to target an estimated 62.4 MT of copper ore which, at an average concentration of 1.4 per cent of copper, can potentially yield 900,000 tonnes of the metal.
Modest to sizable ore deposits have been recorded in Shinas, Mandoos, Htta, Hatta West, Khaznah, Asward, Mahab 4, Maqail South, Ghuzayn, Daris, Hayl al Sahil, Al Bishara, Al Jadeed, Al Asghar and Washihi, among other locations.
London-registered Savannah Resources is working in partnership with local Omani companies to develop multiple small high-grade deposits involving low capital costs, said Price. Licensing and evaluations are progressing for the development of Mahab 4 underground mine and the Maqail South open pit.
As part of its investments in the Sultanate, Savannah Resources plans to set up a copper concentrator facility with a capacity to process 250,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of concentrate from these and other deposits. Copper concentrate is proposed to be exported via the existing bulk handling terminal of Sohar Port.
At the same time, Savannah Resources will continue its exploration and production activities targeting other copper finds, he added.

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