Modernisation of mineral sector

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FOR the first time in decades, an aggressive strategy has been devised to develop the gems and jewellery sector on modern lines to fetch handsome foreign exchange and create employment opportunities – twin objectives that are need of the time.

A high level meeting held on Wednesday decided to set up a Mineral City to pool resources, provide one-stop operations to address the problems facing the sector and provide incentives to investors.

Pakistan has immense reserves of a number of minerals and natural resources that include coal, gold, copper, bauxite, mineral salt, chromite, iron ore and many others.

It also mines a variety of precious and semi-precious minerals including ruby, topaz, and emerald.

According to conservative estimates, the country has the capacity to export precious gems worth $5 billion annually which would have a positive effect on the economy and generate huge employment opportunities.

However, in the absence of a coherent and comprehensive policy, these precious resources of the country are being wasted as neither there is research to develop the sector on modern lines nor proper equipment is used to produce products at per international standards.

The inability of the country to exploit its rich mineral resources is evident from the fiasco that people have repeatedly witnessed in the case of Reko Diq and the world’s largest coal deposits at Thar.

In the absence of a clear policy, both were mishandled and instead of becoming major revenue generation resources, the sword of fine worth $5.97 billion is hanging on our heads that was slapped by a World Bank tribunal.

In this backdrop, the policy framed by the Government on the recommendations of the Task Force has the potential to take care of all issues including use of modern technology in mining, processing and finishing, value addition, research, training of manpower and adoption of international standards.

Precious minerals are being poorly exploited by private individuals and contractors and this problem should also be addressed through effective coordination between the centre and the provinces.

 

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