The Middle East region is rich in many types of minerals that can be a great source of income, as well as open up job opportunities for the local people. The Sultanate of Oman has plenty of minerals as well, as demonstrated by explorations and aerial geophysical surveys in various parts of the country.

Exploiting these minerals comes within Oman's strategic plan to diversify sources of income and Oman Vision 2040. From this standpoint, the Omani government recently signed a new agreement with a British company to explore for nickel and associated minerals. The agreement granted 'Knights Bay' concession rights the Mining Block 21 located in the Wilayat of Ibra. Knights Bay will develop the mine’s potential for nickel and related minerals without contributing to any carbon emissions (zero carbon).

This agreement is the first of its kind with a foreign investor, which will spend between $25 – 30 million in the initial exploration and evaluation phase spanning a period of three years. The agreement covers an area of 1444 square kilometers. The British firm will to carry out geological surveys and drill a number of exploration and appraisal holes to confirm the existence of the minerals and validate its estimated quantities as well.

According to Dr. Salah bin Hafeez al-Dahab, Director General of Investment at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, this project will add value to laterite ore by extracting nickel from it. In the event that the evaluation results are positive, the project will be an important step on the way to developing a diversified economy and will open up investment opportunities in a number of non-oil activities in the coming years. The British company will seek to build, develop and process minerals like nickel and cobalt, which are used in batteries for electric vehicles, thereby opening up Oman as a new source of nickel for battery manufacturers.

In the recent past, nickel prices rose three-fold in the wake of concerns that sanctions on Russia, the largest exporter of nickel, will curtain the supply of this valuable metal. There are several countries in the world that have this product, but their resources need to be unearthed, extracted and exported. The entry of Oman into this important space will attract more foreign investments in this vital sector. This is in line with the government's directions to allocate minerals concessions to strategic investors for development.

Minerals are widely available in mountains and other sites around northern Oman. Mining is among a number of new economic sectors targeted for accelerated development in support of Oman’s growth. Other sectors targeted for similar development are manufacturing, tourism and fisheries within the framework of the country’s policy of economic diversification.

In support of this broad goal, the Omani government recently set up a large hall under the name ‘Invest in Oman’ to be a one stop shop for any investor who intends to invest in such feasible projects.

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