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Mineral Rich Nation Looking for Money

Bilal Zaidi


Pakistan is one of the very few blessed countries in the world. We should take pride GOD has blessed with all fruits, vegetables, crops and minerals a country need to prosper at all cylinders. Pakistan has got all of them. But unfortunately Pakistan never prosper in last few decades as it should have been. We reeling with energy shortages which are badly impacting our manufacturing, exports etc putting extra ordinary pressure on Pakistan’s economy.

Pakistan seeking money support its import of oil and gas just to keep our industrial wheel keep on moving.

Can anyone guess a country with 9 billion barrels reserves of oil and 105 trillion cubic feet gas reserves facing this situation?

Anyone can be dumb founded with this stats how can a country with such energy reserves is begging for support and not able to produce the goods at a lower cost to be one of the top competitive exporters in the world.

Looking for outside world to buy energy sources to keep the country moving, why not invest in exploration? It is eminent that Pakistan has to decide on this and immediately start planning for these reserves to contribute to Pakistan energy crisis.

If we compare the available reserves and how much work has been initiated on these reserves as per reserve maps.

These two maps resources utilized and resources available clearly shows underutilized resources.

The criminal ignorance has been shown by our past governments and it has brought the Pakistan’s at brink of bankruptcy. That has exposed Pakistan to external pressure, compromising position in matter of national security. This criminal ignorance is nothing less than serious treason. Where all the past governments when charged with corruption why not they should be brought into justice for high treason playing with the security of the country.

The overall mineral reserves in Pakistan can be seen in the following map.

The following table shows the various reserves status of minerals found in Pakistan:

                                    Estimated Reserves                                            Production

  1. Salt                 220 Million Tons                                           0.325  Million Tons/year
  2. Copper           5.9 Billion Tons Ore Gold & Copper           0.170  Million Tons/year
  3. Gold               (5th largest in World)                                    0.300 Million Tons/year
  4. Iron Ore         500 Million Tons                                           0.193  Million Tons/year

The Pakistan salt mines are second largest in the world but our exports are 20th in the world that really questions are policies and decision making. When we have 2nd largest reserves why we are not among the top 10 or top 5 salt exporters in the world. Those responsible for taking the right decisions to enhance exports have not taken the decisions in the right direction. We have a trade deficit for long time and its eating up our economic growth in so many ways. The government should take immediate action and make decision that can really boost the export of our salts to contribute more towards our exports. It will not take a rocket science to push exports as the quality of our salt is 99% pure.

Now let’s discuss Copper and Gold ore we have 5.9 billion tons of reserves in Reko Diq, recently Pakistan government turned its attention toward this treasure. With the help of foreign collaboration progress has been initiated, however out of this huge reserve the true potential is not touched.  Only 300,000 tons production achieved from this reserve. The total Gold reserve stands 41.5 million ounce from Reko Diq, the ore grading 0.41% Copper. Pakistan’s gold imports stood 500 kg in 2018 financial year.

In 2012 Pakistan gold jewelry exports crossed $1 billion over the period declined to $12 million in 2017. Instead of  moving up we have gone down massively further aggravating current account deficit.

The restriction of 25 kg import quota has further implications giving rise to illegal imports of gold. TDAP reports the gold demand was $1.2 billion however the gold imports legally showed a figure of $24.43 million in 2016.

The government need to review the policy that local demand of jewelry can only be met with recycled jewelry.

Iron production ranks Pakistan 40th in world with 193,000 tons per annum against total reserves stands at more than 500 million tons. The imports of iron and steel stood at $3.5 billion in 2017. A country with huge iron reserves has to import of this volume is a shame for the country. The efforts should be made to increase production. The largest Steel Mill of the Country is making records of history. Nothing in this respect is on cards to this day. There seems no efforts, plans and policy on Chiniot iron reserves exploration work. The total production capacity of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) is 1.1 million tons monthly annual production capacity 13.2 million tons to achieve 80% capacity the PSM needs monthly 125,000 metric tons of iron ore and 1.5 million tons of iron ore annually which can be easily fed by local iron ore production resulting in foreign exchange savings.

Pakistan is not investing enough time on these avenues no special teams are formed to work on these areas. A formal plan should be formulated and implementation phase should be prioritized.

The government is maintaining that foreign investors are more than willing to invest in exploration process in Pakistan. The government should be alert while signing the contracts with the foreign companies for exploration make mandatory to feed the local manufacturer requirements then they will be allowed to export the raw materials.

The value addition always bring back more rate of return on exports instead of exporting the raw materials.

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