Substantial quantities of commercially valuable nickel and cobalt are expected to be generated from the newly awarded Block 21 during the pilot and development phases, according to the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

Earlier this month, the ministry had signed a mining concession agreement with Knights Bay of Britain covering the mining concession rights to Block 21 in the Wilayat of Ibra in the Governorate of North Al Sharqiyah. Under the agreement, the UK firm will extract nickel and its derivatives with high purity without any carbon emissions (zero carbon).

The promising nickel and cobalt potential of Block 21 was outlined by the ministry in a social media post on Thursday. “10,000 tonnes of nickel per year will be produced in the pilot phase, at an estimated cost of $400 million, with seven years,” the ministry noted in its post.

“The aggregate annual production of nickel and cobalt is 132,000 tonnes and 6,300 tonnes respectively,” it further stated.

Significantly, the extraction of iron oxide is also targeted by Knights Bay in its concession, the ministry said. “Knights Bay is the first company that will extract nickel, and cobalt and iron oxide from laterite ore. The extraction process will be carried out without any carbon emissions (zero carbon). It targets ores and minerals related to clean energy.”

During the exploration phase, Knights Bay will undertake geological surveys and the drilling of a number of exploratory and appraisal holes. Further chemical analysis will be done to confirm the quantities of mineral reserves based on approved international standards, it said.

Importantly, the project is expected to support the development of high-value investments in the mining and downstream sectors.

“With the production of closely related substances like nickel and cobalt, as well as products from other sources like copper and iron oxide with the potential presence of lithium, the project allows the Sultanate of Oman to complete all of its facilities (to support) the manufacture of electric vehicles,” the ministry added.

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