Oman’s Block 21 nickel-laterite mining project, awarded for development earlier this year, has the potential to rank among the world’s largest nickel mines. This development could position the Sultanate of Oman as a significant global producer of nickel, a vital mineral in the ongoing global shift towards clean energy.
In March of this year, UK-based strategic minerals miner Knights Bay secured a mining concession for Block 21 in the Wilayat of Ibra in North Al Sharqiyah Governorate. Covering an expansive area of 1,444 square kilometers, this nickel laterite mine is believed to house substantial deposits of strategic minerals, including cobalt, chrome, iron ore, and nickel.
A recent update on the promising mineral potential of Block 21 has revealed its significance as a potential major nickel source for the flourishing clean technology industry worldwide. Max Beck, Director of Investor Relations for Knight’s Bay, stated, “This project has the potential to be the second and possibly even the largest nickel mine in the world. Our plan envisions full production of 200,000 tonnes per annum starting in 2030-31, with an estimated mine life of over 100 years.”
Beck shared these insights during a recent presentation outlining the details of a private placement offering a limited number of shares to Knights Bay executives before targeting larger investors. He mentioned ongoing discussions with several investors, two of which have the potential to fund the remainder of the project with an estimated $5.5 billion and have expressed support for the project.
Describing Block 21 as an “exceptional find,” Beck highlighted that the Ibra concession also encompasses 135 kilometers of easily traceable nickel laterite outcroppings, largely visible to the naked eye. Samples collected from the site have confirmed the presence of 1% grade nickel, falling within the typical grade range of other nickel mines worldwide.
Beck noted, “From the limited data, we’ve estimated a realistically achievable global exploration target of 11 billion tonnes of nickel laterite. This target should be convertible to the NI 43-101 reporting code for resources and reserves.”
Crucially, the presence of iron ore, cobalt, and chrome in the ore promises to contribute an additional 20% to gross revenues. Some smaller mines currently in operation provide high-quality iron ore suitable for the cement industry, Beck mentioned.
In alignment with its commitment to producing net-zero carbon nickel, Knights Bay intends to employ solar energy for its electricity requirements. The ore reduction process will utilize reformed gas with carbon capture technology. Regarding water usage, the company anticipates minimal requirements due to its adoption of dry process primary processing technologies. Industrial water from existing desalination plants in an industrial area will be used for refining nickel to electric vehicle battery quality.
Nickel production from Block 21 is scheduled to enter the market in 2030-31, a period when demand is projected to outstrip supply, potentially leading to higher nickel prices, concluded Beck.
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