Omani mineral exports include more than just oil

Gulf Mining and Minerals in Oman Provides Marble, Ores and other Minerals to Customers Around the Globe

From a forgotten slab of marble to a iconic work of art: the remarkable story of Michelangelo’s David.

© 2015 Javi Zam / DaMen
The Sultanate of Oman has historically been dependent on its limited oil resources, but recently there has been a deliberate policy emphasis on diversifying the Sultanate’s income generating options by developing non-oil sectors like tourism, minerals etc. The Gulf Mining Group has focussed its capabilities on developing the vast mineral resources of the country and is working seriously to emerge as a leading player in Oman’s mineral-based businesses. In just ten years Gulf Mining has expanded to include 900 employees in 12 countries and continues to look for more opportunites. The Gulf Mining Group has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015.


One of the minerals found in abundance in Oman is marble. For centuries, human beings have appreciated its warmth and durability for carved art as well as for floors and other building materials. Gulf Mining offers various colors of marble from its state-of-the-art marble processing plant at Buraimi, Oman. The Group produces unpolished and polished slabs as well as polished tiles in different popular sizes. The company is currently exploiting three marble stone quarries in the country with plans to open more, and has a current capacity of 55,000 m2/month.

By importing the latest marble processing equipment from Italy, Gulf Mining is able to offer its customers world class products. The company supplements its domestic offerings with material imported from all over the world, so that customers may have the widest range of choices. The BID Committee was impressed by the fact that marble products from Gulf Mining are shipped everywhere, from Persian Gulf Coast countries to China, Southeast Asia, India, the U.S. and Europe. The company points out that this is because of strict quality control guidelines in selection, extracting and processing. Cutting, polishing and packing operations are also subject to stringent protocols to ensure customer satisfaction. Marble from Gulf Mining has been installed in both interior and exterior spaces in residential and commercial buildings, shopping malls, and hotels. Had the company been around five hundred years ago, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Omani marble from Gulf Mining adorning the cathedrals, palaces and museums of the great European capitals. Maybe even the works of the Renaissance masters like Michelangelo and Donatello.

Michaelangelo’s David, a Masterpiece in Marble

“When all was finished, it cannot be denied that this work has carried off the palm from all other statues, modern or ancient, Greek or Latin; no other artwork is equal to it in any respect, with such just proportion, beauty and excellence did Michelagnolo finish it.”
-Giorgio Vasari

It was 1504 when one of the great masterpieces of Renaissance art was unveiled in Florence amid a huge amount of fanfare. The statue had already travelled around the city for four days, creating a circus atmosphere for Michaelangelo’s David, his magnum opus. The improbable history of how the David came into being is almost as fascinating as the work itself.

The statue was actually started much earlier by two artists whose names have been forgotten by all but dedicated specialists. In 1464, one Agostino di Duccio began the project under a commission from the Opera del Duomo for the Cathedral of Florence. Di Duccio had been banished from the city 23 years earlier after being accused of stealing from a monastery, but had eventually redeemed himself by creating masterpieces in other cities. One of his works, in fact, is displayed in the Louvre. However, di Duccio had no experience in large statuary, and left Florence in 1470, having roughed out the legs and the feet. He went no further on the David, and died in 1481.

Next up was Antonio Rossellino, another well regarded sculptor of his day with experience mostly in bas relief and smaller works. Rossellino started in 1475 but made even less progress than di Duccio and was fired. He died in 1479, two years before di Duccio.

After the failed second attempt, the project was abandoned and the partially worked marble block was placed in the courtyard workshop of the Florence Cathedral, neglected and exposed to the elements for twenty five years. In 1500, The Guild of Wool Merchants raised enough money to restart the long forgotten project, and signed a contract with a sculptor who was in fact ten years younger than the block of marble he was asked to complete. The stone was of questionable quality when it was quarried, and by 1501 was in such bad shape that the contract itself described it as being "badly roughed out." The young sculptor chosen by the Guild was Michelangelo Buonarroti, who had just finished the Pietà in Rome, a heartbreakingly beautiful depiction of Mary supporting a crucified Jesus in her lap. The twentysomething Michelangelo was already being hailed as a genious.

The plan for the statue was ambitious from the beginning. It was to be placed tens of meters obove the ground on the outside of the Florence Cathedral which had taken 140 years to build (and whose exterior decorations would not be complete until the late 19th century). The sculpture needed to be nearly five meters tall in order to be properly appreciated from below. Michelangelo worked on it for more than two years, about the same amount of time it took for him to complete the much more complex, but smaller, Pietà.

© 2015 Javi Zam / DaMen
Once the statue was shown to the public, plans to lift it to the upper reaches of the cathedral were scrapped, not only because of the engineering challenge represented by raising a 6 ton block of granite 80 meters into the air, but because of the the perfect form of the work. A commission made up of notables from Florence, including Leonardo da Vinci, decided to place the statue in the Piazza della Signoria, where it remained until 1873 when it was moved to the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze in Florence. It remains there today, finally protected from the weather, where visitors can look but they can’t take pictures.

Vasari wrote that this work “took the voice away from statues both ancient and modern.” The David made Michelangelo so famous and so much in demand that Pope Giulio II requested that he come back to Rome to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Chrome Ore and Other Minerals

Gulf Mining didn’t get the chance to supply the marble for Michelangelo’s David, but marble isn’t the only product they sell. Besides marble, Gulf Mining has helped to establish Omani chrome in the world market, as one of the largest producers and exporters of chrome ore in the country. Offerings from the company range from lumpy to fine forms with chrome content ranging from 24% to 42%. Gulf Mining put into operation the nation’s first-ever chrome upgradation plant capable of processing 15,000 metric tons per month, and produces chrome ore concentrates of 38% and above.

Gulf Mining makes iron ore and laterite available to international customers from mines it manages in Oman as well as managing manganese ore mines in Egypt, which produce high quality manganese ore ranging from 36% to 46% purity. Apart from minerals the company produces in its own facilities, it sources and resells a wide variety of others such as rock phosphate, copper, gypsum, gabbro and aluminium scrap. It sources these items from suppliers outside Oman and sells them to customers internationally.

International Reach

Gulf Mining and members of its group of companies have expanded their activities to include shipping, warehousing and logistics. With warehousing facilities in China and extensive international experience in moving heavy and fragile goods like blocks of marble, it was a natural for the company to offer services for the international movement of goods for third parties. Their logistics subsidiary, Gulf Beach Shipping Agency, provides reliable, high quality logistics/ cargo services, customised to meet client requirements to include logistics solution advice, cargo clearance, freight forwarding, international and inland transport, and customs clearance.

Doing Well by Doing Good

Gulf Mining dedicates considerable resources to projects which fall under its Corporate Social Responsibility policy, including concentration on uplifting and improving economic conditions in the communities where it operates. Notable programs include social, educational, sporting, and medical facilities for local populations as well as community development programs. Internally, Gulf Mining has a robust employee development policy with recurrent training and skills upgrades so that it may promote from within.

Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, customer service, and betterment of the community, Gulf Mining has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015 at the convention in London.


BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.

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