Infrastructure needed to tap mineral potential of Balochistan: WealthPK

ISLAMABAD: The socioeconomic conditions of the people of Balochistan can be changed for the better if concrete steps are taken to tap the mineral potential of the province.
However, lack of exploration and necessary infrastructure to reach out to far-off areas are major obstacles to reaping the province’s mineral wealth. “Other than the infrastructure, water supply is also direly needed at the already operational mining sites to keep the operations going,” said Yasir Shaheen Khalil, an assistant director at the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP).
Speaking to WealthPK, he said besides an operational mining site in Saindak, about six to seven more locations are being developed for mining of copper, molybdenum, silver and gold deposits in Chagai, Sia Diq, Dasht-e-Ken and Koh-e-Sultan. “Some foreign companies from countries like China, Canada and Australia have got mining leases at different places,” he said.
He said lithium is turning out to be the most demanding mineral at present. He added that a few new lease applications were submitted to the Balochistan government to mine the mineral in the province. “Copper is another most important mineral, which is used in the manufacturing of electric cars and solar panels. Riko-Diq is gaining importance for containing vast reserves of copper.”
He said adopting the Chinese model is important to tap the mining potential not only in Balochistan but also in other parts of Pakistan.The Chinese government markets its mining products (both raw and value-added) at the official level, thus helping the sector to flourish. He said miners in China are allowed to sell their outcrop to government authorities without any hassle.
Yasir Khalil said the government should focus on policymaking and investment facilitation, especially foreign direct investment, to develop its mineral sector. “Flexible and investor-friendly policies, and transparent and clear processes are necessary in this regard.”
He said the private sector’s participation in the mining sector is all the more important. Both GSP and Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation are conducting workshops and training sessions for stakeholders to introduce modern mining techniques.
To make the mining sector sustainable in the province, quick and smart decision-making is necessary, he said. –INP