Gulf Potassium Mining, a subsidiary of Gulf Mining Group — one of the largest privately owned mining corporations based in Oman, plans to invest between $300 and $500 million in the development of a sulphate of potash (SOP) project, said a report.
The project will utilise the abundant potassium chloride deposits discovered in Umm al Samim in the western part of the country, added the Oman Daily Observer report.
Thomas Sinclair, managing director of Gulf Mining Group, said that SOP is a premium quality fertiliser product used the world over primarily in the cultivation of high value crops like fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, tea and tobacco.
He added that its two main ingredients — potassium and sulphur — give SOP a competitive edge over the more commonly available Muriate of Potash (MOP) type of fertilizer in world markets.
Speaking at the Second Mining Investment Middle East & Central Asia Conference, Sinclair said that the proposed project envisages a production capacity of around 500,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of SOP, rising to 1 million tpa in the next phase of its development.
Potassium chloride — the primary raw material for the venture — is proposed to be sourced from massive deposits lying just metres below the desert in Umm al Samim close to the Sultanate’s border with Saudi Arabia. Reserves are estimated in excess of 40 million tonnes, although this figure could rise exponentially if further studies are undertaken in the surrounding area.
Sulphur, another key ingredient in the manufacture of SOP, is proposed to be sourced from local producers, notably Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), added the report.