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Untapped Mineral Resources And Their Potential Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 5301 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Pakistan is blessed with huge mineral potential like coal copper, gold, limestone etc.  However, we have not yet been able to promote growth and alleviate poverty by exploiting our mineral resources as is done by other developing countries. Our efforts for mineral development has been limited to few industrial minerals such as limestone, rock salt, marble, gypsum and a very less amount of coal for internal power generation.

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2. Our mineral resources are enormous and emerging as a promising country for exploration of minerals. Pakistan’s more than 6, 00, 000 sq kms [1] of outcrop area demonstrates varied geological potential for metallic / non-metallic mineral deposits. Exploration work and geological surveys have confirmed our great potential in the metallic as well as industrial minerals like copper, gold, silver, platinum, iron, lead, zinc, granite and marble. All these minerals have got huge prospects for exporting to the world.

3. Currently about 52 minerals [2] are under exploitation but on a small scale. The major contribution is of coal, rock salt, and other industrial and construction minerals. Value addition in the mineral sector is mainly concentrated in five principal minerals i.e. limestone, coal, gypsum, sulphur, oil and gas. The current contribution of mineral sector to the GDP is about 0.5% and is likely to increase considerably on the development of mineral projects like Reco Diq, Duddar Zinc lead and Thar coal. On the government level there is a requirement to put more serious efforts in the development of this promising prospect.


4. To carryout comprehensive study of the mineral resource potential of Pakistan vis a vis impediments towards their development and its ramifications on the economy with a view to recommend viable response options.


5. The discourse of the paper will follow the sequence as under :-

Part I – Mineral Resources of Pakistan

Part II – Untapped Minerals and their Potential

Part III – Economy and Mining of Mineral Resources

Part IV – Impediments towards the development of Mineral Resources

Part v – Recommendations for Viable Response Options




6. [3] Mineral resources for a country are like a wealth and Pakistan by the grace of Allah Almighty is gifted with enormous mineral resource potential. Presently 52 minerals are under exploitation but the major production is of coal, rock salt and other industrial minerals. The value addition in the mineral sector is mainly concentrated in five principal minerals i.e. limestone, coal, gypsum, sulphur, oil and natural gas. Mining industry in Pakistan is dominated by the public sector through Federal and Provincial development corporations. The public mining corporations such as PUNJMIN is involved in the mining of 8 minerals, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation in 11 minerals, FATA Development Corporation in 10 minerals, Balochistan Development Authority in around 40 minerals, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Development Authority in 4 minerals and Azad Kashmir Mineral and Industrial Development Corporation in 12 minerals .

7. Foreign investors are mainly from China due to their historic friendship with Pakistan. Besides this, there has been little or investment in mineral exploration. So far whatever development has occurred is restricted to simple technologies and foreign investors without investing in the modern management and technological fields. Consequently mineral exploitation contributes only 0.5% of GDP [4] . Realizing the vast potential of the mineral sector, there is a great opportunity for the multinational companies to invest in this sector and be beneficial to our economy as well as themselves.

8. Top Fifteen Minerals of Pakistan [5] 

a. Aluminium

b. Iron Ore

c. Copper

d. Chromite Ore

e. Zinc / Lead

f. Coal

g. Gypsum / Anhydrite

h. Phosphates

i. Rock Salt

j. Solar Salt

k. Magnesite

l. Limestone for lime

m Kaolin (China Clay)

n. Building stones i.e. Granite, Marble and Onyx

o. Gemstones

9. Mineral Resources in Punjab [6] 

a. Iron ore. Large iron ore deposits are present in Punjab. Major deposits are in Kalabagh(Mianwali district).

b. Coal. In Punjab coal is present in Salt Range. Coal deposits in this region are 235 million tons with average quality coal.

c. Gypsum. Punjab stands 2nd in gypsum reserves. Major deposits in Dadukhel are about 53 million tons. Other major reserves are in Khewra and D.G. Khan.

d. Salt. Salt deposits are mainly found in the salt Range. Rock salt is mined at Khewra, Warcha, Kalabagh, Bhadurkhel, Jatta, karak ,Chakwal and Khushab mines. According to Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, reserves of rock salt are around 600 million tons.

e. Lime stone. Lime Stone is present in salt Range Potwar Plateau, Margalla Hills and Zinda Pir (Attock) in large deposits.

f. Aluminium. It is found in Khushab district,but graded as low quality Aluminium.

g. Calestine. Celestite is used in flares, tracer bullets, warning fuses and fire-works. It is found in Daud Khel.

h. Natural oil. All major oil fields are located in potowar plateau. A brief description is given In following table:-

i. Natural gas. Major gas resources are in Uch near Multan and Adhi in Rawalpindi district, supplying a gas of 18Mcf/day  .

j. Marble. Main marble reserves are in Dalbandin Hills in Attock District

10. Mineral Resources in Sindh [7] 

a. Coal. Pakistan has total coal reserves of 185 billion tons, out of which 184 Billion tons are in Sindh. It is one of the biggest good quality lignite deposits in the World.

b. Salt. Bright prospects exist for the development of high purity solar salt facility around the coastal areas of Karachi.

c. Limestone. It is found in Kot Diji, Ranipur, Ganjo Takkar, Murli Hills, Mango Pir and Cape Monze.

d. Aluminium. In Sindh Aluminium is found in Kirthar Nits.

e. Carbonate Soda. Present in large quantity in Nawabshah, Umerkot ,Nara Taluka( Khaipur) and Shah Bandar.

f. Calestine. The estimated reserves are 300,000 tons. In Sindh, Calestine deposits are found in Thana Bula Khan.

g. China Clay. It is found in Nagar Parkar (Tharparkar) and used in cement, paper, rubber filter manufacturing.

h. Natural Oil. There are three renowned oil fields in Sindh which are briefly described in tabular form below:-

i. Natural  Gas. In Sindh Natural Gas is found in Khairpur, Kandkot , Mari, Golarchi and Khaskheli.

11. Mineral Resources in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [8] 

a. Chromite. Deposits in Dargai (0.7 Mt), Heroshah (0.1 Mt) have been proven. Similarly in Pattan and Chilas areas prospects appear to contain 0.2 Mt reserves.

b. Coal. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa there is no large deposit of coal. Two small ones are briefly described in tabular form:-

c. Bauxite.   Bauxite ismainly found in Hazara District. Details are as under :-

d. Gypsum. The largest gypsum reserves in Pakistan are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which are primarily found in D.I.Khan and Kohat districts.

e. Phosphates. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa  contains Cambrian sedimentary phosphates mainly in Abbottabad.

f. Magnesite. In Abbottabad established reserves around 11 million tons geological & 3 million tons mineable containing acceptable  46%  –  47%  magnesium oxide are present. 

g. Limestone. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Areas

the average annual production of limestone is 8697 Metric tons.

h. China Clay. Presently the major production comes from shah Dheri, Swat ..

i. Marbles. Marbles of different classifications occur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Areas. 158 million tons out of 160.2 million tons of marble reserves, are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

j. Gem Stones. Pakistan ranks amongst leading gem-hosting countries. Emerald, Ruby, Pink Topaz and Peridot are found in Hunza and AJ&K.

k. Soap Stone. Its deposits are in Sherwan and Abbottabad districts. Soap stone is used in Ceramics and soap industries.

12. Mineral Resources in Balochistan [9] . Out of 50 minerals being mined 40 are being exploited in Balochistan:-

a. Aluminium. Large deposits are in Kalat, Ziarat and Loralai districts. Khakhan-China spring mine in Loralai district produces 2000 tons annually.

b. Iron Ore. More than 903.4 million tons of iron ores are found in Pakistan and potential ore deposits in Balochistan are the following:

Copper. The significance of copper resources of Pakistan is widely known.Copper reserves are present in Saindak and Reko-diq in Balochistan.

d. Chromite Ore. Major deposits are found in Muslim Bagh, Noshki, Ras-koh, Dilbadin and Khuzdar districts.

e. Zinc. The Jurassic rocks of the Lasbela – Khuzdar Belt have the potential to host several World class’ zinc – lead ore deposits. Zinc deposits in Duddar Gunga  are estimated over 160 million tons.

f. Coal. In Balochistan about 217 million tons of coal is estimated. Thèse Resources are distributed in Hamai, ,Duki ,Mach-Abegum  Pir Ismail Ziarat  Bar khan – Chamalang.

g. Natural Gas. Total Natural gas reserves in Pakistan are estimated at about 31 trillion cubic feet. In the Province of Balochistan, the reserves are in Pirkok, Sui ,Mazarani, Golarchi.

h. Manganese. Manganese is found in Lasbela and Khuzdar and estimated reserves are 0.477 million tons.

i. Limestone. In Balochistan average annual production of limestone is 8697 Metric tons.

j. Magnesite. In Balochistan it is found in Muslim bagh and Bela.

k. Gypsum. According to geological survey of Pakistan, about 2000 million ton gypsum resources are present in different areas of Balochistan.

l. Antimony. Antimony deposits have been sporadically mined near Qila Abdullah in district Pishin of Balochistan.

m. Marble. Large deposits of marble are present in Balochistan, about 2 million ton high quality Marble is present in Chagai district.

n. Gems. Discoveries in Chagai, Panjgur, Kalat and Killa Abdullah.

o. Aragonite. It is found in Khuzdar and Loralai.



13. Despite the fact that Pakistan is bestowed with huge mineral potential the overall contribution of this sector in GDP is merely 0.5%, which warrants extensive efforts to harness this unexplored wealth. The untapped mineral resources are discussed in subsequent paragraphs [10] :-

a. Platinum. The Chilas rock body with indications of Platinum and Platinum-group elements occurrences belongs to the largest basic intrusions in the world which are continuously exposed. Similarly area between Jijal and Patan, Allai in Kohistan and Malakand Agency, west of Dargai bears Platinum and Platinum-group elements.

b. Antimony. Antimony is an important metal which is used for making and antimony salt is used in the production of safety matches, in percussion caps of cartridge and in tracer bullets. Antimony reserves have been recently discovered by GSP in Kharan district. Present estimates of available ore are 26,000 tons and the antimony content of the ore varies from 7 to 12% (Hussain, 1974).

c. Copper. Copper is used in electrical industry, automobiles, airplanes, conductors and circuit breakers due to its high electrical and thermal conductivity and strength. Geological Survey of Pakistan has discovered copper at Saindak, Dasht-e-Kain, Missi and Ziarat Pir Sultan.Massive sulphide type copper deposits have been reported from Chagai, Lasbela and Khuzdar districts. Mineral deposits at Saindak are in table-1 and estimated recoverable quantities of different metals are reflected in table-2.

Table – 1 : Saindak Copper Reserves [11] 



(million tones)

(% of copper)

South Ore Body



East Ore Body



North Ore Body



Table – 2 : Estimated Quantities of Metals and their Values [12] 


Current Price

(In USS)


(in million USS)

Copper 1.69 million tones

2000 / tones


Gold 2.24 million ounces

387 / oz


Silver 2.49 million ounces

5.0 / oz


d. Gold. In the present day world along with its major consumption in Jewelry, gold is being used as an important industrial metal also. In the Chagai area, Geological Survey of Pakistan has identified at least 12 porphyry type deposits which may contain appreciable quantities of gold along with copper and silver.Similarly clusters of gold and silver have also been discovered in Drosh district Chitral ,Sargodha, Mansehra and Muzaffarabad.

e. Iron. Iron is used for making steel and a number of other alloys. Many small and large deposits of iron ore have been found in Dilband, Chilghazi, Chigendil and Pachin Koh districts of Balochistan. The iron ore deposits recently discovered by the GSP at Uthal appear to be of economic value. Estimated iron reserves and quality are given in Table-3.

Table – 3 : Iron Reserves and Quality of Iron Ores in Balochistan [13] 


Area / Locality


(million tons)





Dilband, Kalat District



Sedimentry ore with predominant heamatite


Chagai District (Chigendil, Pachin Koh, Chilghzi)





Uthal Lasbela District, Balochistan

Not estimated

Up to 45%

Metamorphie ore with predominant magnetive.

Total :-


f. Lead – Zinc. Lead and Zinc metals form important alloys having varied uses in industry and ammunitions. The geological Survey of Pakistan has discovered several deposits of lead and Zinc ore in Lasbela – Khuzdar region of Balochistan. Deposits at Gunga, Surmai and Duddar have been investigated in some details by GSP and are expected to be around 10 million tons each.

g. Chromite. Chromite is mainly used in the manufacture of stainless steel and as refractory material. Chromite is found in Zhob, Killah Saifullah, Chagai, Kharam, Khuzdar and Lasbela districts as podiform type. A total production of 25,735 tons was achieved during the year 2002-2003.

h. Manganese. Manganese ores are found in Lasbela, Khuzdar, Chagai and Zhob districts. The manganese occurrences in Chagai district are found as coating and film in the quartz veins cutting limestone beds. A total of 580,500 tons of manganese ore has been estimated in various deposits. The average range of manganese content is 8.2% to 50.56%.

i. Fluorite. It is mainly used as flux in steel making and is the only source of fluorine which is required for hydrofluoric acid and other fluorine compounds. Fluorite is found in Maran, Dilband and Pad Maran areas. The reserves are estimated over 0.1 million tons .

j. Gypsum and Anhydrite. Balochistan has very large reserves of gypsum/ anhydrite found at spintangi and Chamalang. Estimated gypsum reserves are given in table . 4.

Table: 4 Major Gypsum Deposits of Balochistan [14] .



Reserve of million of tons












Range Analysis








High Gypsum







k. Baryte. The baryte deposits are located in the area between Uthal and Khuzdar. Deposits at Gunga near Khazdar and Daddar in Lasbela dirtrict are estimated over 12 million tons. The production from indigenous deposits meets the total requirement of baryte for oil well drilling and barium based chemical plants of the country.

l. Dimension and Decorative Stones. The ones most commonly used are onyx marble and granite. Marble is used in building facings, bathrooms and floor tiles / handicraft items. Onyx marble of high quality is found in Chagai District / Gilgit Baltistan. Granite occurs in Chagai , Zhob, Kila Saifullah and Lasbela.

m. Gemstones. Northern areas are marked by GSP as ruby-bearing marble zone. Similarly in Swat district few deposits are expected of gemstones.

n. Limestone. Pakistan has vast resources of limestone extending from the coastal region near Karachi to as far north as the Chagai and Zhob. These rocks generally contain over 80% calcium carbonate,less than 5 %silica and less than 1% iron oxide making them suitable raw material for the cement manufacturing.

o. Coal. According to estimates prepared by GSP, Pakistan has total coal reserves of 185 billion tons, out of which 184 billion tons are in Sindh. One of the biggest good quality lignite deposit is in Thar, Thar coal is of relatively good quality and is likely to be operational by Dec 2013 [15] .There are six coal areas in Balochistan where coal mining activities are in progress i.e. Harnai, Duki, Daghari, Pir Imail Ziarat, Mach and most recently in Chamalang area but it has been abandoned due to a tribal conflict. The coal resources of Balochistan are described below:-

Table No. 5 Summary of Coal Resources of Balochistan (Million tons) [16] 










Khost Shahrig Harnai






Sor Range Daghari














Mach Abegum






Pir Ismail Ziarat



















p. Gas [17] . Zin block is surrounded by major natural gas producing fields of Pirkoh, Loti, Sui and Uch. 22 trillion cubic feet of projected gas reserves are expected in Kohlu district, therefore OGDCL has applied for security cover for four licenses i.e. Kohlu, Jandran, Jandran West and Kalchas. OGDCL is the largest upstream company in the country , as of December 2010 it holds 48 percent of the country’s recoverable oil reserves and 37 percent of the country’s recoverable gas reserves.

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14. Growing demand for mineral resources such as aluminium, nickel, copper and zinc by developing markets in Asia has contributed to a surge in mineral prices. Driven by the prospect of higher revenues, developing countries are increasingly turning to their minerals wealth as a source of growth and new economic development opportunities [18] .

15. The extractive industry sector is very diverse. Classification may refer to scale of operation, nature of activity (underground, off-shore, open-cast, etc.), material extracted (industrial minerals, gemstones, precious metals, oil and gas etc), utility (energy, metallic and non-metallic) or degree of capitalization. However, the unique feature of all extractive operations is that the resource being extracted is non-renewable. Therefore goal of non-renewable resource exploitation, should be the conversion of natural capital into other forms of capital. In terms of scale, there are three general levels of extractive operation as under [19] :-

a. Large Scale. Capital-intensive and multinational companies use extraction and processing technologies that require high levels of investment and skills. Significant revenues, economies of scale and efficiencies result from these operations.

b. Medium Scale. Includes state run enterprise such as national oil and gas producers and numerous “expansionary juniors” (with less than USD 100 million assets) in the hard rock mining sector.

c. Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM). Old mining methods i.e rudimentary technology, minimal capital investment , high labour intensity and low levels of technology for extraction and processing. It is estimated that ASM produces up to 31% of the global production of minerals including 20% to 30% of gold, 20% of coal, 10% of diamonds and 75% of non-diamond gemstones.

16. The Economics of Mining [20] . Minerals represent only a small part of world production and global FDI flows, however their supply is essential to modern economies. Major contributions of mining in economy are:-

a. The contribution of Mining to Growth, Exports and Fiscal Revenues. Accurate statistics of the economic benefits derived from mining are difficult to obtain, especially when the full scale range of the sector is considered. For example, the informal and frequently illegal nature of ASM activities results in significant losses of potential government revenues. Where figures are available metal exports constitute a large part of total exports for several countries like in Tanzania, mining represents 40 % of national exports, 75% of foreign direct investments and is estimated to have contributed about 6 % of the total annual GDP growth rate of 4.8 % between 1996 and 2003 (ICMM / World Bank, UNCTAD, 2006a). Many governments derive a large part of fiscal revenues from the mining sector. In Botswana more than half of fiscal revenues are derived from mining (USGS, 2005) whereas mining accounts for 43% of government revenues in Peru (gold, copper, zinc, etc).

b. The contribution of Mining to Employment and subsistence. The ILO has estimated that the mining sector employs 22 to 25 million people worldwide, approximately 1% of the total global workforce (ILO, 2007). Large-scale mining is capital-intensive activity requiring increasingly higher skills levels. The artisanal sector is coupled with the fact that mining may be pursued during periods of agricultural inactivity or underemployment. The sector often operates in poor / remote locations so as to provide pro-poor benefits which private sector or government are unable to provide.

17. Potential of Mining to Lift the Poor Out of Poverty [21] . The track record of countries with the opportunity to convert resource abundance into broader development goals is often disappointing. Resource abundance often does not translate into economic prosperity. Mineral wealth and its proper exploitation would form the basis for economic growth, poverty reduction and sustained development. However some of the most resource rich countries had the highest levels of poverty, corruption and conflict.

18. The evolution of “mining codes” has been described as having three phases. The first has been characterized by major withdrawal of state intervention. The second places greater emphasis on the responsibilities of companies for socio-economic development. In Mali, for example companies are required to pay a tax directly to regional governments for re-allocation to local communities. The third places greater emphasis on the participation of affected people and enhanced government responsibility for environmental and social safeguards. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, has made provision to ensure revenue distribution to those directly impacted by mining companies (60% of royalties remain with the central government, 25% go to the provinces and 15% to the community where the mining occurs (CASM, 2007).



19. The detailed overview only helps to ascertain that the mineral deposits of Pakistan are huge but there seems a host of factors which are hindering the development of minerals. Taking a 360 degree view, there are internal as well as external impediments and also issues like environmental hazards and lack of technology. Each of these are discussed in succeeding paragraphs.

20. Internal Impediments. Some of the impediments faced by Pakistan internally are as under:-

a. Understaffing of Mineral Department. Minerals department is critically understaffed. There is only one mine inspector for the whole district and only one Assistant Director of License to look after the licenses issues in the whole region. Hence the officials are unable to visit the mine sites and monitor the progress.

b. Lack of Technology. There is visible lack of technology available for the miners, since most of the mine owners are medium to small scale. The mining carried in the country is still based upon the century old techniques.

c. Lack of Proper Database. Inconsistency is common in the data provided by the Provincial Offices and District Offices on licenses, leases, budget, revenues, etc. Regional offices are not very reliable and do not help towards well-informed policy initiatives.

d. Lack of interest of the foreign investors. Although the FDI inflow in mining and quarrying sector in Pakistan has increased yet deteriorating law and order situation and poicies are proving to be major barriers against the inflow of FDI specially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

e. Security of Tenure. Another important issue faced by the miners is the lack of security of tenure. The government can take away the lease any time citing reasons of low extraction, slow work progress etcetera and this reason alone is enough to deter investment. The mineral development Act of 1948 is still in place which also needs to be addressed.

f. Weak Coordination and Non Transparency. Mineral department is not only weak in coordination due to nonexistence of proper policy but is also non transparent at times i.e. ignoring the mandatory requirement for grant of licenses and leases under political influence. Employees Old Age Benefit Institute (EOBI) [22] is a case in point. The contractors also accuse that some officials of regional directorate bypass the rules and regulations and ignore the merit due to their vested interests.

g. Tribal Rivalries. In mineral rich areas tribes are mostly working against each other so as to gain control over the mineral resources in that particular region. Resultantly the exploration work is stalled, since no foreign company would like to work in a hostile environment.

h. Deteriorating Law and Order Situation. Owing to GWOT the law and order situation of the country is not very encouraging for local as well as foreign investors. Most of the mineral rich areas are either under conditions of unrest or located in the close vicinity, thereby precluding any chance of exploration work.

i. Role of Government [23] . The responsibility of the mineral exploitation rests with duality of control between provincial and federal governments. Constitutionally, government of Pakistan has defined its role for nuclear minerals, oil and gas while solid minerals whether they are in the Federal territory are the subject of provincial government. The concern of government of Pakistan for agriculture which relates to the curst of the earth is not likewise in the minerals.

j. Public Sector Corporations. The public sector corporations which were created to undertake R & D and disseminate/ transfer such knowledge and experience to the private sector have focused their attention on maximizing the revenue generation even at the cost of disregarding the safety measures.


k. Beneficiation – R & D [24] . The engineering universities as well as geological departments which have the high level of talent and manpower are not being utilized for R & D in the mineral sector due to which most of the talent is being wasted.

21. External Impediments. Some of the impediments faced by Pakistan internally are as under:-

a. Role of Donor Agencies. In case of third world countries the international donor agencies like IMF, World Bank ADB etce


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