Port of Duqm plans to start export of minerals for the first time in February next year, said a top-level official of the port.
The port has already set up facilities for ‘early operation’ of its break bulk terminal for exporting 50,000 tonnes of dolomite as the first shipment from the port. “One shipment is ready to be exported, which is expected in February next year,” Reggy Vermeulan, said chief executive officer of Port of Duqm.
Vermeulan said the terminal has a capacity to handle 5 million tonnes in the first phase, which can be scaled up substantially in the future. “We have identified a huge potential of minerals in Oman, which will be definitely a source of income for the country,” he noted. This will help the diversification strategy of the government to reduce heavy dependence on oil revenue.
Vermeulan said Port of Duqm is now working with Oman Railway to substantially enhance mineral exports by transporting products from far off places and storing it near the port. In fact, a freight corridor is to be developed to connect the Port of Duqm to large regional markets, in a bid to increase the volumes of mineral, container and project cargo shipments.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Oman Rail Company and Port of Duqm Company (PDC) to build the project. Additionally, Oman Rail and PDC will develop a rail industry support cluster on Port of Duqm Industrial land.
“We will build a conveyor belt system and pre-staging areas to dramatically increase the capacity.” Although the initial plan is to build capacity for five million tonnes, it can be quickly enhanced to 20 million to 30 million tonnes.”
The Port of Duqm chief said that Oman has a variety of minerals and some of them can be considered as finished products, which can be directly exported without processing.
The mining companies, which have concession areas in Oman, will use the port’s break bulk terminal for exporting their minerals, including limestone, to several countries, especially to India.
The 300-metre dedicated break bulk terminal is the last part of a 2.2-kilometre-long commercial quay, which is equipped to export minerals. The commercial quay is divided into three main areas - 300 metres of cargo terminal, 1.6-km of container terminal and 300 metres for a break bulk terminal.
The potential of mining is huge in Central Oman and the region has rich deposits of limestone, gypsum, and silica sand. Limestone is abundant around Duqm port and an extensive geological mapping has identified two main areas with nearly timeless quantities of high quality limestone.
Gypsum is also present at many places in Oman, from north to south. The thickness of gypsum layers is limited, with a maximum of two meters.