Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman is a country located in the Middle East on the the Arabian Peninsula. Oman is rich in mineral resources and has a complex geological history spanning 825 million years. The mineral resources include dolomite, zinc, limestone, gypsum, silica, copper, gold, cobalt, chromite, coal, and iron. The Ophiolite belt found in Oman is characterised by medium to high grade copper deposits with gold credits and metallurgically simple ores.
Many copper mining projects in the Semil Ophiolite Belt is set to occur in the coming years. Exploration planned is targeting 10,700,000 and 29,250,000 tons of 1.4 and 2.4 per cent copper. In Washihi, 160 kilometers southeast of Muscat, copper deposits with associated gold ore are scheduled to be explored. The project covers a total area of 105 square kilometers. It is expected to produce 77,000 tons of copper and 18,000 tons of gold yearly upon operation.
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Oman is bordered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the north-west, Saudi Arabia to the west and Yemen to the South West. The capital city Muscat is located on the South East coast, the main cities Sohar and Sur in the North and Salalah in the South. Oman has a coastline along the Arabian Sea. The landscape is varied, central Oman is mostly desert and there are dramatic mountain ranges along the north and south-east coasts. Oman has a population of circa. 5 million as of 2019 according to the United Nations. Oman is heavily dependent on oil and gas resources, which can generate between and 68% and 85% of government revenue, depending on fluctuations in commodity prices. More than half of Oman's total reserves are concentrated in the northern region of the country, where six fields, Jibal, Natih, Fuhud, Al Huwaysah, Al Khuwayr, and Shaybikah, contain recoverable reserves of more than 2 billion barrels. The Wasia Group reservoir is the most productive reservoir along the Arabian Gulf. Oman, however, still remains far behind the ranks of the world’s largest oil exporters. Copper is Oman's other major mineral currently being exploited, historically, copper mining in Oman has existed for thousands of years. It dates back to pre-Islamic days when copper was mined and sent all over the world. Oman was then known as Majan or the land of copper. Oman's main copper reserves are in the Suhar area on the Al Batinah coast. The processing of ore at the Suhar complex, operated by the government-owned Oman Mining Company, began in 1983. The production of chromite by the Oman Mining Company also began in 1983 in the Suhar area. In July 1991, the government established the Oman Chrome Company (OCC). The OCC was created to develop the country's chromite reserves estimated at 2 million tons of chromite located at 600 sites throughout the country. Today, Oman is again focusing on developing its mining sector with several new projects, initiated by the Public Authority of Mining (PAM), have recently been completed including: an economic feasibility study on silica ore in Wadi Buwa and Abutan in the Wusta Region, which confirmed that there were exploitable reserves of around 28 million tonnes at the two sites.
Laws and Regulations
Licensing and Concessions:
Licences for exploration and prospecting may be granted for one year terms, renewable for similar periods up to three years. The licence period for exploitation is up to five years, renewable for additional similar periods. Concession agreements for large deposits may be granted for periods between 20 and 30 years.
License holders may no longer hold on to their licenses without performing their obligations. The Public Authority for Mining (PAM) has greater authority to terminate the licence if the licence holder fails to conduct the licensed activities or make the required investments within specified time periods. PAM may also terminate the licence if the license holders fails to pay amounts due to the government or transfers its licence without approval or otherwise breaches the terms of the licence or the law.
License holders have reporting obligations to the PAM, such as submission of monthly reports on extraction, inventory and sales, and quarterly reports on employees, processing, development and operations, as well as notifying PAM of any changes to their shareholding structure.
It is strictly prohibited to carry out any mining activities without having a licence issued by PAM. A person or an entity carrying out mining activities without a licence are subject to penalties, confiscation of any produced minerals as well as possible criminal liability.
Royalties, rent and other payments amended to incentivize investments:
The financial obligations for license holders and concessionaires have been revised. There are no set royalties or rent payments. The stated intent is to incentivise investments by establishing flexible royalty and rent payments that are tied to the economics of the project. The law does however set parameters, requiring license-holders to pay:
- a minimum of 5% of the annual output of their mining activities in royalties.
Rent payments are to be determined by PAM;
- a financial guarantee amounting to 1% of the value of the budget allocated by the licence holder for their exploration and mining operations; and
- a contribution of 1% of the value of the annual output of its mining activities to support the local community in the area surrounding the relevant site.
The growth in the educational sector started in 1970 at that time the number of students did not exceed 900 and in a mere 5 years there were 207 schools with 55,752 students. In 1986, there were 588 schools and 218,914 students enrolled; at the end of 2015, there were 56,211 teachers and 523,522 students. Up untill today, Oman had provided free education and encouraged every child to enroll in a school. As of 2017, there were 565,184 students in schools; there were also 1091 schools offering what is currently known as the basic education programs and post-basic education of grade 11 and 12 programs. The school staff serving these schools amounted to 60,165. Added to that, the private education sector has also grown tremendously with over 486 private schools in 2015, serving more than 97,465 students.
In the late 90’s several educational recommendations were made to the Ministry of Education; among those suggestions was to create a basic education road map that can prepare students to continue their education or join the work force.There are 6 colleges of applied science, 7 colleges of technology, and 1 higher college of technology in Muscat. Sultan Qaboos University (also in Muscat) is the sole state university. Its 9 colleges include; Agriculture, Art, Commerce & Economics, Education, Engineering, Law & Islamic studies, Medicine, Nursing, and Science.
About three-fourths of Oman’s adult population is literate; there has been a substantial increase in the number of literate women.
Before 1970 thousands of Omanis left the country to find work in nearby oil-producing states; later foreigners came to work in Oman as oil production increased. Non-Omanis comprise about four-fifths of the labour force. Women constitute a small but growing portion of the workforce. There are no trade unions or associations in Oman, though the government has created consultative committees to mediate grievances. Strikes are forbidden and as in most countries in the GCC, the workweek is Sunday through Thursday. Working hours are from 8am to 1pm and then 3.30pm to 6.30pm.
Although expat jobs in Oman are not as widely available as they were in the 90's and oo's, the job market for skilled foreign workers is still healthy.
The government's policy of Omanisation, aims to see fewer expats within the local workforce, Omani authorities need to be convinced that a local worker could not adequately fill the position concerned before issuing an expat employment visa.
Personal income and property are not taxed in Oman. Corporate tax rates are determined by the level of Omani ownership; the greater the percentage of Omani ownership, the lower the rate of taxation. In the late 1990s, however, the government lowered rates on foreign-owned firms to encourage investment. Oil companies are taxed separately by the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals.