Engineering Post Report
The mineral potential of Pakistan is widely recognized to be quite excellent but somehow this sector over the past many years has been inadequately developed. This is evident that its contribution to industry as a sub-sector was just 13.5 per cent and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has remained 2.7 per cent.
Although efforts are underway to develop it but still enough remains to be done to enhance this sector to take full advantage of its endowment. This sector is lagging behind despite huge potential, due to various inter-connected and cross cutting issues like lack of infrastructure at mines sites, low level of technology installed and semi-skilled labour, low financial support and lack of marketing.
Besides the efforts being made at the federal level, what the Provincial Governments of the Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and Balochistan are doing to develop this important but somewhat ignored sector to ensure making more contributions towards the national economy?
Punjab Mines and Mineral Department aims to ensure responsible mineral development that contributes to the most advantageous level of mineral while respecting the principles of sustainable development.
Following two schemes are underway in the province to develop this sector.
Resource estimation of placer gold in river Indus flowing through district Attock:
Placer gold occurrences along the dispositional meanders of River Indus have been of great interest for exploration of gold resources in the upper reaches of Chitral, Gilgit, Hunza and adjoining areas to explore the source rocks for gold.The Indus river course mainly falls in districts Attock and Mianwali in the province.
The objective is to determine the economic potential of the placer gold in specified areas of river Indus at different locations in district Attock. According to the results, viabl block (s)/zone(s) can be granted on concessions under the Punjab Mining Concession Rules 2002.
Construction of drainage Nullah for disposal of saline water from sandstone leases in district Sargodha: Mines and Mineral Department has 58 blocks of Sandstone in Kirana Hills of district Sargodha and the leases of these blocks have been granted through open auction under the prvisions of the Punjab Mining Concession Rules 2002.
As excavation of of stone from these blocks is being done since long, pits have been developed in most of the blocks having depths of 15-25 feet due to extensive working. This situation compels the lessees to dispose this saline water from the pits on to nearby lands and pits of other vacant blocks. Due to this uncontrolled disposal of saline water, the surrounding have been affected badly causing unrest among the inhabitants.
Hence the construction of drainage nullah to dispose of this saline water is a basic necessity of the stone market and the locals which on one hand will eventully make the pits workable and on the other hand facilitate the local land owners and inhabitants.
Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah’s total area is 74521 square kilometers out of which as much as 70 per cent consist of mountains and rocks. The formation of these rocks contains huge prospects of different metallic/non-metallic minerals and various precious/semi-precious gemstones and minerals.
It has large number of mineral resources which have not yet been exploited at all to its full potential. Based on the exploration done so far, excellent prospects of other valuable deposits exist in the province.
Minerals which are being produced/explored in varying figures are Barytes, Bauxite, Coal, Dolomite, Granite, Gypsum, Iron Ore, Limestone, Marble and Rock Salt.
Sindh is located in the Southern part of Pakistan. From East to West, it comprises three main geological zones, namely the Thar Desert, the Indus Plain and Delta, and the Khirthar Mountains.
At present about 24 minerals are under exploitation but only on small scale. Sindh Government has accorded priority to the development of mineral sector as it co-relates with the development of remote areas of the province as well as alleviating poverty. Mines and Mineral Development Department is acquiring latest mineral exploration techniques for effective date geological generation and identification of exploration targets.
Sindh produces a variety of commercial clays, including Fuller’s Earth, China Clay, Fire Clay, Ball Clay and Bentonite. It is endowed with large and extensive deposits of Limestone.
Keeping in view the contribution of mineral sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which can also be enhanced by commercial exploitation of granite, marble and other minerals as well.
The Directorate General of Mines and Mineral Development Department has sponsored the ongoing schemes “Feasibility Study of Granite Deposits in district Tharparkar Sindh “ and “Exploration, Evaluation and Value Addition of Granite Deposits in Sindh for Economical and Industrial Use” during last financial year. These schemes are expected to be completed by June 2020. The department has also proposed a scheme titled “Sindh Mineral Policy” for the current financial year.
It has already established Geo-Data Centre with official web portal for providing all the necessary information to the general public as well as investors and stake holders. This center provides mineral information and online granted database along with provision of information regarding the granted areas in Sindh province.
Balochistanis the largest province area-wise of the country constituting about 43 per cent of the total national landmass. The country in general and the province in particular is endowed by the nature with the blessing of substantial mineral wealth. Mineral industry can play an important role in boosting up the socio-economic set up in Balochistan as agriculture in other parts of the country but due attention could not be given to the exploration and development of mineral sector of the province due to financial constraints, heavy risk investment and lack of infrastructure as the deposits are located in remote and far flung areas.
Nature has gifted Balochistan province with vast natural resources. Efforts are being made for scientific exploration and exploitation of minerals resources of the province. Major mineral potential are Metallic Minerals (Chromite, Iron, Copper/Gold, Lead Zinc, Titanium Potential and Antimony) and Non-Metallic Minerals ( Coal, Gypsum, Fluorite, Magnesite, Baryte, Vermiculite, Asbestos, Dimension Stone.)
The Provincial Government has planned projects relating to management of the mining industry. However, following are the potential projects for development and investment related to CPEC and also in general for the public and private sectors:
Establishment of Mini Steel Mills at Mastung and Chagai costing Rs 15 billion.
Cement Manufacturing Plants at Quetta, Kalat, Mastung, Loralai, Lasbella, Barkhan, Bolan , Sibi, Hernai and Kohlu costing Rs 05 billion.
Establishment ofCoal-based Thermal Power Stations at Quetta, Loralai, Sibi and Hernai costing Rs 03 billion,
Establishment of Ferro-Chrome Plant at Muslim Bagh and Khuzdar costing Rs 05 billion.
Establishment of Marble Cities at Chagai, Khuzdar and Loralai costng Rs 02 billion.
Establishment of Barium Chemical Compounds Industry at Khuzdar at estimated cost of Rs 02 billion.
On the whole, Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) performance in the country remains muted due to lower Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) expenditures compared to last year, slowdown in the private secor construction activties and consumer spending on durable goods along with low labour productivity. Adjustments, stabilization and reform process will ,however, continue for higher growth.
The federal government is seriously focusing on ease of doing business by making concerted and determined efforts to rebuilt investors confidence and trying utmost to remove all basic impediments that adversely affect business environment and thus subsequent investment in the country.
Going forward, some gradual recovery in economic activity is occurring on the back of improved market sentiment in the context of International Monetary Fund (IMF) supported programme. The rebound in the agro based industries as well as the government incentives for export oriented industries is slowly but gradually improving labour productivity which hopefully will help in reviving LSM in medium term in the country.