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Untapped mineral resources and economic development of Pakistan

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

Authors Waqas A. Aziz and Tariq Zaman Khan report:


Pakistan is endowed with huge reserves of minerals covering an outcrop area of 600 000 km2 due to its unique geological condition. Fortunately, Pakistan have been blessed with all type of rock from pre-Cambrian to recent with exceptional geological and geomorphological features. There are 92 known minerals of which 52 are commercially exploited, it includes coal, copper, gold, chromite, mineral salt and several other minerals. Despite of all huge resources mineral sector is showing slow performance. Recent Economic Survey of Pakistan indicated that overall contribution of mineral sector in GDP growth of Pakistan is about 2.51%.

Figure 1. Representing approx. metallic minerals resource of Pakistan (Source: Geological Survey of Pakistan and Ministry of Petroleum).

Mining sector in Pakistan

Mineral development has contributing greatly in economic growth and social development of several developed and developing countries; Russia, Australia, Canada, China, Iran etc. In contrast as per Economic Survey of Pakistan, the Mining and Quarrying sector of Pakistan showing negative growth rate by 8.82% during July - February 2020 as against 3.19% decline last year and the contribution of Mining and Quarrying sector is just 2.51% in GDP growth of Pakistan (Figure 3). Mineral extraction of Pakistan is just 0.005% in relation with resource potential, by increasing the mineral extraction with better road map and investment, contribution of mineral sector in GDP would be double.

Figure 2. Representing approximately non-metallic minerals resource of Pakistan (Source: Geological Survey of Pakistan and Ministry of Petroleum)

Import vs export

Mineral export of Pakistan is quite nominal if we compare it by neighbouring countries, even mineral resource of Pakistan is similar or somewhere greater by these countries but unfortunately due to lack of planning and execution it is far behind in mineral extraction and their export (Figure 4).

In 2019 total mineral export of Pakistan was just BUS$1.13 in contrast total mineral import of Pakistan of BUS$5.42, which ultimately constitute to the increasing current account deficit. It is clearly visible that the difference between mineral import and export of Pakistan since last 10 - 11 years is quite high which can be easily reduced by better planning and development of mineral mining sector (Figure 5).

Figure 3. Representing contribution of Mineral Mining Sector in GDP for year 2019 of different countries (Source: Trading Economics)

Pakistan lagging to contribute in global mineral market

Despite of having huge reserves of high demand and marketable minerals, Pakistan Mineral Industry is still lagging far behind as compared to the global mineral market. This lag is due to some interrelated issues in mineral mining sector such as bottle necks in mineral policies, law or order situation, insufficient infrastructure, outdated technology, low financial investment, marketing issues and geo-political conditions. Due to mentioned gaps, mineral sector shows negligible growth and almost have no contribution in growth of Pakistan and Global Market as well.

Figure 4. Representing export of mineral and related products by country for year 2019 of different countries (Source: Trade Statistics for International Business Development).

The way forward

To strengthen mineral mining sector and increase its contribution in the economic balance of Pakistan, high level national focus is required to inculcate conducive environment for new mining companies. Convenient national & provincial governing policies for mineral sector are required to snub delays & hurdles for new market players assuring investment security, investments for required infrastructure and provision of necessary technological input to local miners. Concurrently financial encouragement and utilisation of state-owned research agencies such as Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) and other Universities is of immense importance ensuring full potential of mineral resource is exported as marketable product globally.

Figure 5. Representing import vs export of mineral and related products by Pakistan from 2009-2019 (Source: Trade Statistics for International Business Development).

For countries like Pakistan who are facing fairly large gap between supply and demand, we need to spend more time and efforts for the exploration and development of prospects especially in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, need to developed comprehensive policies for mineral exploration and their development considering the law and order situation of these regions have been significantly improved in last few years.

Pakistan mineral sector have a potential to boost up the economy of Pakistan, state initiatives like establishment of Baluchistan Mineral Exploration company is a great step in this development ladder and an encouraging sign for global mining players to invest in Mineral sector of Pakistan.

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