TBY talks to Hilal Mohammed Hamoud Al Busaidi, CEO of the Public Authority for Mining (PAM), on new mining laws and boosting efficiency of management.

Hilal Mohammed Hamoud Al Busaidi
Hilal Mohammed Hamoud Al Busaidi has been the CEO of the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) since April 2015. He previously worked at Petroleum Development Oman as a petroleum engineering manager. He began his career after studying in the US as a petroleum engineer.

What progress has been made in formulating new mining laws?

The mining law took effort and time to formulate because we wanted it to be as attractive to investment as possible. We have finished drafting the law and it has been reviewed by different government bodies and it is now at the final review stage at the Ministry of Legal Affairs and will hopefully be with the Council for final approval soon. The new law will help to attract investment and is designed to make the sector as transparent as possible.

What key changes are you making?

One key change is the specific period that a company will be able to hold a license; we are extending it to 20 years. This gives investors comfort in terms of sustainability. The second key change is more details describing each of the mining licenses so that it is clearer. Another change is in connection with local communities, while one more is the introduction of a government body to intervene if there is a dispute between government bodies regarding permits. Other than that, there will be space to change different fees as the market situation changes. In the current law there are fixed fees that cannot be changed unless the law is changed. Now we have removed those lines from the law and placed it in the procedural methods. Companies have to submit executive practices explaining what the law is in detail. The fees associated with the previous law will be added to this procedural methodology. This is a smart move that will benefit both the investors and us. Fees will adapt as the market changes and we will be the ones to monitor that. We have a bit of a role to play in reducing the overall business visibility to investors. We imagine in early 2017 that it will be in the books; we are hoping to push to ensure that.

What will be the result of shifts in working with the private sector and how will it affect your governance of the overall mining sector?

One of the issues with mining licenses is the process; companies are required to get permits from eight government units so it takes a lot of time. There is determination that this process needs to be more effective and timely. The second thing is that the government must look at the applications for permits in a more commercial sense, to view the economic value of it rather than just for the sake of rejecting it. There will be a lot of considerations regarding some of the permits, and there might be some objection, but now thinking about the economic impact and benefit as a whole might facilitate it. The term fee will also be looked at from an execution point of view. One of the challenges that the mining authority has is getting plans into action because of logistics money issues. If a challenge arises because of a logistics issue the body that we will establish will attack this issue and solve it as a part of the new authority. It will not only look at the fee plan but also other government plans that are facing problems and issues. That set up will manifest in a lot of other businesses and in turn the authorities will benefit from this. The mindset of how the plan is being put together is bottom-up with buy-ins from different stakeholders together and also being carried out through consultations with the public.

What are you ambitions and expectations for the year ahead?

First of all we need to support local entities by providing mineral products to them. One aspect is being able to provide building materials to the local market in an efficient way. We have to tidy up a few things with the licenses with the crushers so that they are regulated in a more effective way. The other big element of it is really attracting big investment in the mining sector. Without this big investment we will not be able to kick off a big shift to contribute to the GDP of the mining sector. We have to make the companies that are working right now collectively grow together and be more effective in creating downstream industries.