GB’s Saltoro valley awaits govt attention to tap its mineral wealth

ISLAMABAD: Saltoro valley of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region boasts promising mineral deposits, which if exploited on commercial scale under the official patronage, can contribute to socioeconomic development of the country in general and the local population in particular.
Pakistan needs to frame well-crafted policies to dig the latent earthen chests of the area. The extraction of the valuables will not only support the country’s own industry but also promote the export of the value-added products to fill state coffers with precious foreign exchange.
While discussing the potential of concealed earthen sources of GB with WealthPK, Muhammad Yaqoob Shah, the principal geologist at Global Mining Company Limited, Islamabad, said geo-scientific study of Saltoro valley in the Ghanche district of GB was carried out between 1991 and 2001, and the region was declared as a targeted area for possessing gold, silver, nickel, platinum, and other metals bearing source rocks. “These rocks are principally found in Chulung, Gyong and Gayari sub-valleys of Goma village. Such rocks are also present in the North Shyok Suture Zone, within the Karakorum plate, composed of boulders of banded gneiss intruded by lamprophyre dikes and younger granitoid. This type of rock formation is considered the host rock of valuable metals mineralisation.”
Yaqoob Shah, who is also the former general manager of Geology at Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC), said that the study had been conducted by PMDC aimed at mineral exploration in Gilgit-Baltistan. “This activity was performed for the chemical analysis of gold, other base metals, and minerals for ultimate profit-oriented mining in the country. For this, systematic drainage sampling was done. Samples of mesh size -80 were collected from specified locations. Each of the locations represents a measured drainage cell area according to its chemical analysis for all precious base metals and minerals,” he further explained.
According to Yaqoob Shah, the main purpose of this investigation was to attract private sector investment. He regretted the fact that no further progress was made on the exploration front. He said that a lot of investment and deployment of skilled and non-skilled human resources was needed to reap the benefits of the mineral potential of the region.
Yaqoob Shah, who is also a member of the National Council for Marble & Granite and Minerals, strongly recommends starting active mining for the socioeconomic development of the country, particularly the local communities. He is of the opinion that if mining can be done in sub-arctic glaciated and permafrost areas of Iceland, Canada, Alaska, etc., why it cannot be done here in Pakistan when promising deposits exist and are confirmed through geo-chemical tests and geological facts. He called for all the departments concerned to frame a joint initiative to start the exploitation of all potential areas for national development.