The success story continues at Sohar Port and Free zone, with the signing this week of a 35,000 square metre land-lease agreement for a major new copper tube mill. Construction will commence this summer and the plant is due for start-up by March 2018, with full production scheduled by July 2018.
The agreement, which was signed at Grand Hyatt Muscat Hotel, was signed by Sultan bin Salim al-Habsi, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning (SCP), Chairman of Sohar Freezone Board and Jamal bin Tawfiq Aziz, CEO of Sohar Freezone whilst it was signed from the shareholders’ side by Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Kharousi, Chairman of Mohsin Haider Darwish Investco, Hussein Jawad, Chairman of Middle East Investment Company, Hussein bin Salman al-Lawati, Chairman of Bin Salman and Ali Mal Allah Habib, Chairman of Al Habib Holdings.
Sultan bin Salim al-Habsi, SCP Secretary General affirmed that Sohar Port is continuing to attract investments. He pointed out that this project is one of the promising investments at the port. He explained that the project is the first of its kind for producing cooper pipes.
With a capacity of 15,000 metric tons of copper tube by high technology as none as cast & roll per annum, this latest addition to the burgeoning Freezone metals cluster will produce mainly inner-grooved copper tubes, as well as plain copper tubes. Both these products are widely used in the manufacturing of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. The plant’s technology is most commonly known as ‘cast and roll’ and comprises of three distinct production stages, in which copper cathodes are formed directly into mother tubes.
The raw material (copper cathode) will be available from Iran or local market.
Investment in the plant, that totals around USD46 million, is to be split between four main shareholders: Middle East Investment Company, Mohsin Haider Darwish Investco, Hussain bin Salman Ghulam aI- Lawati, and Al Habib Holdings. Once operational, the new plant is expected to generate 30,000 tons of copper through Sohar Port and another 35,000 square meter of landside logistics volume.
Although the bear market in copper, driven by global oversupply and reduced demand in China continues to push global copper prices lower, this is yet another sign that Sohar is in the right place at the right time, according to Jamal Tawfiq Aziz, Sohar Freezone Chief Executive Officer: “As Oman and its GCC neighbours take active measures towards diversifying their economies, more investments are flowing into sectors, such as infrastructure, real estate and hotels, driving significant demand for copper tubes in the construction industry; these tubes are the basic components for every freshwater and cooling system in the region”.
Aziz continued: “It’s estimated that the per capita value of the GCC’s construction industry will increase from around USD2,000 million in 2014, to well over
USD3,000 million by 2020, and this latest plant in Sohar is ideally located to serve the region, thanks to our outstanding connectivity to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as the Port’s proximity and our excellent ties to Iran”.