The Public Authority of Mining (the “Authority”) is affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (the “Ministry”) and aims to develop the mining sector, achieve optimal exploration of mineral resources and invest resources in such a way as to develop goals and economic diversification in Oman. As natural minerals in Oman are property of the state, the Authority is responsible for granting licences for exploration and mining activities as well as implementing and monitoring such activities. The scope of this article focuses on the Authority’s role in supervising all mining-related activities once a licence has been granted.
Powers of the Authority Where Mining is Concerned
The Authority was established in accordance with RD 49/14 giving extensive power to the Authority in the governance of mining activities. The powers and prerogatives, allocations and assets of the Ministry have been transferred to the Authority. Although not an exhaustive list, some of the Authority’s powers include the ability to:
• supervise all activities that are related to the exploration of minerals and develop resources; and
• preserve the geological landscape and set out the appropriate controls to protect it.
Article 19 of the Mining Law as promulgated by RD 27/03 also stipulates that officials designated by the Authority shall be entitled to:
• access, inspect and examine the mine or quarry at any time during duty hours, provided they do not interrupt or obstruct the operations flow; and
• investigate the mine or quarry status to assess the suitability of the adopted safety and other measures.
Mining Regulation No. 77 of 2010 (the “Regulations”) goes further to specify how officials may monitor mining activities. In accordance with Article 77 of the Regulations, relevant judicial inspectors may:
• enter into the area of the concession or licence at any time during the working hours for the purpose of physically inspecting the work progression and assessing steps taken to ensure the health and safety of workers;
• view and collect production details, mining operation records and accounts during the working hours;
• issue instructions and directions to employees in charge of the mining operations for the purpose of improving the work and specifying violations, if necessary;
• investigate violations committed by the holder of mining concession or licence; and
• review the production reports and the guaranteed and potential mining reserve of the extracted metal and compares the same with the reports submitted to the director as per conditions of the concession or licence.