As posted on ‘Let Us Build Pakistan’ :
“Recently, it surfaced that significant deposits of natural gas reserves in the heart of Kohat city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were discovered by the state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL).
As published in Dawn News:
”According to a statement issued by the company on Friday, the discovery was made during exploration of Shekhan well-1 which produced 15 million cubic feet of gas (MMCFD) through 32/64 inch choke size at wellhead flowing at a remarkable pressure of 2,500psi. ”
Last year, (OGDCL) had uncovered new reserves of oil and gas in Hyderabad. At least 15.4 cubic feet gas and 165 barrel oil per day can be produced from the well.
It is no hidden fact that Pakistan is a region blessed munificently by nature with a plentitude of natural resources proving British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s quote of calling India (United India which once Pakistan was part of) as ‘the brightest jewel in Her Majesty’s Crown’.
The province of Balochistan is enviably rich in this regard, many surveys have identified the geological conditions for the existence of antinomy and gold in the Punjgore and Kharan district but the larger focus this post will direct towards are the new zones and districts where such minerals have been found, projects promulgated for them and their utilization.
Reko Diq, a small town in Chagai District, Balochistan, in the view of development expert Syed Fazl-e-Haider, contains under its sands some 12.3 million tons of copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold. The copper-gold deposits at there are believed to be even bigger than those of Sarcheshmeh in Iran and Escondida in Chile.
But the Reko Diq copper and gold mine contracts awarded to foreign investors have come under threat in recent months as the provincial government has threatened to cancel the mining rights awarded to a consortium led by the Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation and the Chilean mining company Antofagasta. The Prime Minister has personally intervened in this issue and it is hoped that he would convince the provincial government of the vital importance of foreign firms in exploring and developing these resources for no local firm has the huge amount such as $3 Billion required for the process.
And the launching of the ‘Reko Dik Copper-gold project’ is expected to produce 0.3 million tons of copper annually through indigenous physical and human capabilities.
The Thar coal field containing 175 billion tons of good quality lignite, can be used for power generation and gasification.
The Duddar lead-zinc deposits in Balochistan being developed by Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) have come into production to produce 100,000 tons of zinc concentrates and 33,000 tons of lead concentrates for export.
Two visionary leaders of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had deep-rooted interest and plans for the development of the natural resources of Pakistan.
As a Minister of Fuel, Power and Natural Resources, ZAB signed a path breaking agreement for exploration of oil and gas with Russia in 1960. He set up a Gas and Mineral Development Corporation in 1961 and Pakistan’s first refinery in 1962 at Karachi.
While his daughter Benazir Bhutto had began the Saindak-Copper and Gold Project while successfully achieving and announcing the country’s first National Mineral Development Policy in 1995 : NATIONAL MINERAL POLICY
Unfortunately, it could not be fully implemented at the provincial level owing to a host of reasons like delays in setting up the Mineral Investment Facilitation Authority and the ever-changing political situation.
As the Geological Survey conducted in Pakistan states:
“The country’s more than 6,00,000 sq.kms of outcrops area demonstrates varied geological potential for metallic / non-metallic mineral deposits.“
In the recent past, exploration by government agencies as well as by multinational and international mining companies presents ample evidence of the occurrences of sizeable minerals deposits which could be developed and utilized using an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework which the National Mineral Policy of 1995 clearly provides.
Currently about 52 minerals are under exploitation although on small scale. The major production is of coal, rock salt and other industrial and construction minerals. The current contribution of mineral sector to the GDB is about 0.5% and likely to increase considerably on the development and commercial exploitation of Saindak & Reco Diq copper deposits, Duddar Zinc lead, Thar coal and Gemstone deposits.
Mining for these minerals and inviting corporations and companies, both national and international to develop these resources, will certainly be a welcome step in paving the way for generating revenue that can be invested in healthcare and education or used in any other way, beneficial for the well-being of the people of Pakistan.
Pakistan has accepted Chinese assistance to conduct a comprehensive scientific geological survey of Pakistan, which will be helpful in exploring oil, gas and mineral reserves. According to a newspaper, the Defence Ministry has supported the proposal to involve Chinese Geological Survey (CGS) for geosciences co-operation.
According to Pakistan’s High Commission to Kaula Lumpur, data released by Pakistan’s Board of Investment indicated that the biggest Malaysian investment was made in financial sector with US$ 194.33 million followed by Oil and Gas Exploration US$ 14.26 million.
As a developing country and with a growing population, one of the most important resources of Pakistan after its mineral wealth is its human resources. Exploration, mining and utilisation of these abundant minerals may require a huge amount of captial but human labour is paramount for these three stage so carrying out these tasks would also contribute in increasing employment for the people of the areas where they are being conducted thus reducing a percent of unemployment rate.
The stumbling blocks that lay as the constraints with the mineral sector and are expected of the Government to remove are financial restraints, lack of technical knowledge, institutional mismanagement, lack of experts and low priority given to mineral extraction.
The financial difficulties can be solved by handing over exploration and extraction projects to foreign companies or by negotiating joint ventures between them and local companies.
Just as Pakistan’s President has reiterated on various international levels of the country’s demand and requirement for ‘Trade not aid’, it is tantamount that Pakistan’s allies and countries with which it shares strong relations such as the economic giant China or UAE are called for to help Pakistan by providing more of technological assistance or technological aid which will resolve the proposed perplexity of lack of technical assistance.
Institutional mismanagement can be avoided by ensuring the appointment of deft and adroit officers with the appropriate knowledge and experience on merit, who should be checked to insure that the set goals are being met in one of the many organizations formed for propounding facile solutions for the advancement of the mineral sector such as ;
1. Geological Survey of Pakistan – Founded in the year 1947 for the investigation and mapping of mineral deposits.
2. Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation –Established in the year 1974 for the exploration and marketing of all minerals.
3. Resource Development Corporation –Organized also in 1974 to investigate and develop copper mines at Saindak.
4. Gemstone Corporation of Pakistan – Created in 1979 to develop gemstone resources.
While experts of this field can be hired to aid the work of the aforementioned organizations.
Pakistan’s non-metallic and metallic resources are bountiful and even 5% of them are extracted and developed, Pakistan’s economy can take a leap in growth : METALLIC AND NON-METALLIC RESOURCES IN PAKISTAN
Putting Pakistan’s anticipated deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, limestone, rock-salt, chromite, marble, China-clay, celestite, gypsum, magnesite, sulphur, bauxite, gold, oil, gas and coal (all non-metallic, metallic and energy resources) to use by exploiting and extracting them can help to purge the country out of many a crisis and become the sound base for many industries and the availability of minerals will lessen the burden of imports and improve the balance of payment position.
Plus, this PPP Government already has the advantage of a Mineral Policy which may have been made 15 years ago but is excellent in every regard to be followed even today, (though it should be revised and updated in accordance with the new layer of information and requirements that have emerged), for it touches upon all aspects related to the exploration, extraction and development of the resources and presents a complete strategy and plan for the purpose of the development of the Mineral Sector.
With such a capacity for growth in this sector, it is disappointing that its contribution to the GDP is about 0.5%.
Pakistan can undoubtedly use its capacity it for the betterment of the economy and development of the country itself. It is of time, that the Government not only realizes the potential in and resources of Balochistan and other provinces but also steps forward to utilize and develop them for the existence of these resources are equal to none if not developed but if they are, they will be the key to a new era in the history of Pakistan.
- Hafsa Khawaja