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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brazilian mining giant Vale is considering doubling capacity of Oman Plant

Ravindra Nath

6 October 2009

 MUSCAT - Brazilian mining giant Vale is considering doubling capacity of a $1.5 billion iron ore pelletising plant it is setting up in Oman even before start of production, key officials of the company said here on Saturday citing rising regional demand.

The plant, with an annual capacity of nine million tonnes of direct reduction pellets, is due to go on stream in 2010. The officials said the company intended to purchase all inputs and services locally, while the ore would be imported from Brazil via dedicated berths at the Sohar Port.

A high-ranking Omani bureaucrat said the project would give a big thrust to the country’s diversification effort and create hundreds of job 
openings for nationals.

Work at site on the (Vale Oman Industrial Complex’ (VOIC) in Sohar in the Batinah region started recently and is due for completion in the second half of next year. The complex will consist of a pelletising plant, bulk terminal and distribution centre with a capacity of 40 million tonnes.

“We are thinking of doubling capacity in the near future. We have not even begun production, but we are already seeking to expand capacity, Jose Carlos Martins, Executive Director of the Vale, the second largest diversified metals and mining company in the world, said addressing a supply chain workshop. “We intend to source locally all inputs and services,” he added, underlining the potentially enormous business opportunities the project will open for local suppliers.

Currently, 29 Omani companies are involved in construction and contracts worth $220 have been awarded to firms based in the country. Also, according to the company’ s projections, nearly 84 per cent of the $160 million annual expenses have a potential to be supplied locally. Martins, who observed that the workshop coincided with his country being awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics and extended an invitation to “everyone here to visit Rio de Janeiro” during the Games, said the Sultanate was chosen for Vale’s first venture in the Middle East because of its very strategic geographic position and very good business environment.

Shaikh Abdulmalick bin Abdullah Al Hinai, Economic Affairs Under-secretary at Oman’s Ministry of National Economy, who presided over the opening session of the workshop, said the Vale project would result in transfer of technology to Oman and be a big step forward in the country’s diversification drive. He also highlighted the immense job opportunities that the project would create for Omani citizens.

The company has hired 130 nationals who are at present attending an 18-month training programme and targets 60 per cent Omanisation of employees next year, rising to 80 per cent in 2015.

Vale opened its Middle East office in Oman in December 2007. Managing Director Sergio Leite, describing Vale as a “green plant company” explained steps that would be taken to ensure the Sohar factory was environmentally friendly in relation to air, soil, water and noise. It would feature a “continuous environment monitoring air system” on which the company would some $40 million, a “green belt” wind fence, water spraying system and dust suppressor application, he added. Leite said there would be a management programme for solid waste disposal, dry grinding system and recycling of 100 per cent of the process industrial water and acoustic isolation to protect the mills.

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