Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called the discovery of the huge mineral reserves near Chiniot district in Punjab as the great treasure which could change the lot of this nation. He announced the presence of rich deposits of copper, iron and gold contrary to former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi’s claims that the iron ore found in Chiniot is not of a good quality while the gold and copper deposits have not yet been confirmed. According to him, the government is just creating media hype about the reserves which were actually discovered 10 years ago when he was the chief executive of the province. On another note, renowned scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand, German consultants and Chinese Metallurgical experts claim that the quality of iron ore deposits is similar to those which are found in Brazil, Russia and India. The samples of the ore were sent to the scientific laboratories in Canada and Switzerland which confirmed that the iron ore is of high quality.
According to experts, the mineral deposits found in the area are estimated to be in thousands of tons. Various studies are currently being conducted, covering an area of 28-square-kilometre. Another survey will be conducted in an area of 2,000-square-kilometre and the experts believe that a huge quantity of mineral deposits will be ready for excavation. The geologists working in the area are recommending the government to focus on the excavating of copper which is more expensive than iron in the international market. Copper price is $5,000 per ton as compared to $100 per ton iron in the global market. The prime minister indicated that the local and foreign investors will be invited to take part in excavation of the minerals and also set up industries in the area. A feasibility study for excavating the reserves have already been completed.
It is good omen that the chief executives of the country and province are taking keen interest in the discovery of minerals in Punjab. Pakistan is already in contact with Germany and China on various technological projects and more cooperation is required to excavate the minerals in the area. What the government needs to do is to ensure transparency in the process of awarding contracts to foreign companies. Uncertainty still shrouds the future of the world-class gold mine, Reko Diq, due to poor handling of the project by the government authorities. The government could not make any good from the gold and copper mine which has the value up to $500 billion. It should be noted that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Azad Kashmir have large deposits of precious stones, but the respective governments could not produce value added goods from the raw stones.