02 June 2016
MUSCAT: In what promises to be a first for Oman's rapidly expanding mining and mineral processing sector, a prominent mining firm says it is weighing Islamic finance to fund an ambitious copper-gold project being primed for implementation in Dakhiliyah Governorate of the Sultanate. The Al Hadeetha Copper-Gold Project is being developed by Al Hadeetha Resources LLC, a locally incorporated company that is 70 per cent owned by Alara Oman Operations Pty Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian-based international mineral exploration company Alara Resources) and Al Hadeetha Investments LLC of the Sultanate.

A status update issued by the joint venture's Australian promoter on Tuesday stated: "The Company is making steady progress towards selection of a major project financing arrangement; this includes consideration of both Sharia compliant and conventional banking products." Earlier, Alara said it was also exploring the possibility of a rights issue in support of its project financing objectives. In the JV's sights are copper deposits and associated gold ore in three exploration licenses -- Washihi, Mullaq and Al Ajal -- covering a total surface area of around 105 square kilometres.  Targeted for initial exploitation is the Washihi licence which is estimated to hold 14 million tonnes of potential resources.

Feasibility studies conducted by the JV envision a mid-size processing scheme capable of delivering around 34,000 tonnes of concentrates per year.  This is predicated on an investment of around $35 million, with revenues projected at around $430 million annually during the first decade of operations.

According to the JV, steady progress has been made in its application for the crucial mining license from the Public Authority of Mining (PAM).  Approvals for the venture have already been provided by the Ministry of Housing and Public Authority for Electricity and Water, it added.  The project is targeted for launch in Q3 2017.

© Oman Daily Observer 2016