Pakistan yet to tap strategic, economic benefits of chromite: WealthPK

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is blessed with abundant deposits of chromite, but almost no consumption at home forces the country to export the entire production without any value addition, thus depriving it of the mineral’s strategic and economic benefits.
China is a major buyer of Pakistani chromite ore among other countries, including Japan, South Korea, and Poland. All the importing countries are getting great economic and strategic benefits.
Despite being rich in the deposits, Pakistan pays no proper attention to getting any benefit from this precious mineral.
Chromite is a critical and only mineral from which both chromium compounds and metallic chromium are obtained.
Market share of chromite is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.71% to $3.51 billion by 2026.
“Chromite can be a substantial source of revenue generation for Pakistan if it is exported in value added form. It will help enhance the level of sustainable livelihoods for communities involved in mining,” said Imran Babar, who is involved in chromite mining and trading, while talking to WealthPK about the economic and strategic value of chromite.
Continuing the discussion, he added, “Chromite is the only commercial ore, from which chromium can be extracted. It is used to improve the chromium deficiency in body, cure diabetes, high cholesterol, bipolar disorder; used as a supplement in nutritional intra venous (IV) drips, etc. Chromite is also used to electroplate the iron objects to prevent corrosion/rusting; ceramic glazing is done by using chromite; and container glass is prepared by it. It is also used as a pigment for paint and glass, leather tanning and sometime as gemstone.”
Imran Babar said it was not good that such a precious mineral of Pakistan was mostly sold in rough form. Such trend is preventing Pakistan of earning handsome foreign exchange. “This never allows the people depending upon mines for their livelihoods to come out of the vicious poverty cycle. If the government focuses on these issues, a great socio-economic change will be seen in our society,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, talking to WealthPK, Yasir Shaheen, an assistant director at the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), said, “Chromite occurs in basic/ultra-basic igneous rocks as an elementary addition. Cooling magma helps form the crystallisation of chromite. In this way, large stratiform economic deposits or small pod-like deposits are shaped.”
“It is a highly heat-resistant material, and is largely used to produce refractory materials, shapes, plastics and foundry sands. That’s why it is used in furnaces on a large scale. Refractory materials produced by using chromite are an essential part of ferrous/non-ferrous alloys, glass and cement. It is also used as a steel alloy to harden the cutting tools, armour plates and ordnance (military materials/armour piercing projectiles etc),” said Yasir Shaheen.
“High strength alloys are also prepared by using chromite to resist abrasion, heat, corrosion and oxidation. Chromite is also used in many high temperature applications. Chrome is available in granular (semi-powdered) and ore form,” he explained.
Deposits of chromite are found abundantly in Pakistan. Good ratio deposits are found in Muslim Bagh, Qila Saifullah, Khanozai, Jijal Complex, Chilas Complex, Sapat Complex, Zhob, Waziristan, Bela, Malakand, Shangla etc. Most of the chromite deposit areas are located along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Naturally, chromite deposits in Pakistan are viable from 50% to 70% in grading.