[Ferro-Alloys.com] Gulf Mining Group, one of the largest mining and mineral processing corporations in the Sultanate, is weighing plans to set up the Sultanate’s first manganese ferroalloy smelter at Sohar — part of the corporation’s strategy to add value to Oman’s prolific mineral resources.
The initiative, coupled with a separate plan to triple the capacity of its existing ferrochrome smelter at Sohar Port and Freezone, will entail a combined investment ranging from $50-100 million, according to a top official of the group.
Mohammed Yahya al Shabibi, Chief Executive Officer — Gulf Mining Group, said the proposed manganese ferroalloy smelter will be constructed adjacent to ferrochrome smelter owned by subsidiary Gulf Mining Ferro Alloy (GMFA) at the free zone. The project will — for the first time — add value to Oman’s manganese ore, production of which has hitherto been exported.
“In the first phase, we aim to start with 4,000 tonnes of manganese ferroalloy, although plant capacity will depend on the size of our manganese reserves. Proven deposits are estimated at 1.5-2 million tonnes of manganese, which will be processed and value-added similar to how we are value-adding our chrome ore resources,” Al Shabibi told the Observer.
Manganese ferroalloys are primarily added to steel to increase its strength and toughness.
Importantly, Gulf Mining also plans to ramp up the capacity of its ferrochrome smelting operations at Sohar to a world-class 150,000 tonnes per annum, up from the present 50,000 tonnes.
Implementation of either initiative is however predicated on the availability and supply of electricity, the CEO stressed. “We have been assured by Majan Electricity Company that new generation capacity is being developed in the Sohar area, upon the completion of which the required allocation of electricity supply will be committed for our project,” Al Shabibi said.
Gulf Mining Ferro Alloy’s two-furnace smelter project was completed in 2014, but for want of adequate power supply, only one of the furnaces was put into operation initially — a supply shortfall that hurt the company’s bottom-line, according to the CEO. “Our project economics are based on a two-furnace operation, and only when both furnaces are in operation can we hope to turn a profit,” said Al Shabibi.
- [Editor:Chen Zhen Seng]