ISLAMABAD: Pakistan possesses significant reserves of mines and minerals, which include the world’s second-largest salt mines and coal deposits, the fifth-largest copper and gold reserves, extensive stores of marble, granite, gemstones, chromite, gypsum, iron ore, lead-zinc, bauxite, and more.
The government should prioritize the development of this sector to fully harness these natural resources, fostering trade, exports, and economic growth. Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), expressed this view when addressing a delegation from the All Pakistan Mines and Minerals Association, led by Chairman Meer Behrose Regi Baloch.
The ICCI President pointed out that several countries, such as China, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Brazil, have effectively leveraged their mineral sectors for economic development. Still, in Pakistan, this sector has not received the attention it deserves, despite its enormous potential to drive economic growth.
He emphasized that Pakistan could generate billions of dollars through this sector, bringing multiple advantages to the economy, including enhanced trade and exports, increased employment and income levels, greater domestic and foreign investments, and accelerated economic growth. He called upon the government to address the key issues in the mines and mineral sector to unlock its true potential for the country’s economic development, assuring the delegation that the ICCI would advocate for their concerns at the relevant forums.
Meer Behrose Regi Baloch, Chairman of the All Pakistan Mines and Minerals Association, raised various issues confronting the business community in the mines and mineral sector. He emphasized the need for the government to enhance the regulatory framework, as procedural delays were hindering potential investors. He also stressed the importance of government support for infrastructure development, technological advancement, access to finance, human resource development, and marketing to facilitate the sector’s growth. He further suggested that the government should provide dedicated and friendly banking products for the mining and processing sub-sectors. Inadequate road networks to the mines, utilities, and industrial zones were identified as significant factors discouraging investment and hindering the minerals sector’s growth, and Baloch urged the government to address these issues as a top priority.
Zafar Bakhtawari, former President of ICCI and Secretary General of UBG Pakistan, highlighted the continued use of outdated technology in the quarrying and processing sub-sectors, resulting in challenges related to the production of value-added products. He called for government cooperation in introducing the latest technology and mechanized mining in the sector to enable the production of value-added products and enhance exports.