Serpentine has potential to add value to Pakistan’s economy

ISLAMABAD: Serpentine can add value to the state wallets of Pakistan with its industrial uses and carved images. It is found in good quantity in the country.
The global serpentine market is expected to grow at the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% worth $77 million by the year 2026. Gold-bearing quartz is not commonly found in it, but often gold veins are close in association with it. Its price can be from $2 to $20 per carat. Lapidary, clarity, colour, and quality are the main factors in the price of serpentine. At Moh scale, hardness of serpentine is 2.5 to 3.5, and that’s why it can be carved/sculptured easily.
Serpentine is used as a thermal and electrical insulator in many architecture and industrial applications. Serpentine concrete provides a fast neutron shield as a better reactor. It is mostly used to make artefacts, tiles, kitchen countertops, railway blast, etc. It is used to cure mental and emotional imbalances, diabetes, hypoglycemia, parasitic elimination in the body, aids the absorption of calcium and magnesium, etc.
Talking to WealthPK, Principal Geologist in Global Mining Company and former General Manager Geology in Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) Muhammad Yaqub Shah said serpentine protoliths are essentially ultramafic rocks with a number of categories i.e., stratiform complexes, concentrically zoned complexes, ophiolite complexes, and high-temperature peridotite complexes. He also shared that stories about it as a poison antidot are fascinating to hear, but no fact-finding exists in this regard.
Yasir Shaheen Khalil, Assistant Director at Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), told WealthPK that serpentine is a decorative/ ornamentation stone abundantly found in Pakistan, particularly in Uthal, Bela, Wad, Naal, Sonaro, Khanozai, Muslim Bagh, Killa Saifullah, Zhob, Ras Koh, (central Balochistan), North Waziristan, Mohmand, Bajaur, Dargai, Shangla, Bisham, Khwazakhela, Dir, Sapat, Tora Tigga, Gilgit-Baltistan, Chilas, Turmik, Tornala, Tirah, etc. In the country, it is available in many shades i.e., green (commonly found), yellow, white (the rare one), etc. Yasir also denied the myth of being serpentine as an antidote to lethal poisons.
Geologist and miner Imran Babar said serpentine is a modified form of novel ultramafic rocks called dunite/olivinite and peridotite, and contains a lot of copper, nickel, iron, and other elements.
“Maybe its name is derived from its greenish color and greasy feeling as that of a serpentine. New Jade is actually a type of light green Serpentine. It earned its name due to its appearance and metaphysical similarities to jade,” he said.
In a discussion with WealthPK about the remedial effects of serpentine to cure poisons, Managing Director and owner of Baltistan Zahar Mohra Works and Decoration Centre and factory in Baltistan said that creating the artefacts and producing the utensils out of it is their ancestral business. He said that serpentine, which is called Zahar Mohra in the local language, keeps mysterious properties to change colour by touching anything poisonous.
Gemmologist and miner Zakirullah expressed his views about the myth of serpentine being used as an antidote against poisons.
“It is beyond wisdom to consider it as a healing stone against deadly poisons. I myself never experienced it,” he said.
Mining and value addition of serpentine and all other precious and semi-precious stones is important to get good revenue. At official level, the latest techniques of mining, lapidary, and value addition are needed.