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Pakistan’s first mineral processing project in Balochistan eyes $250mn exports

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Pakistan’s first mineral processing project in Balochistan eyes $250mn exports

  • Balochistan government signs joint venture agreement with Platinum Mining Company to develop country’s first mineral processing project in the province
Bilal Hussain
August 31, 2023

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The Balochistan government has signed on Thursday a joint venture agreement with Platinum Mining Company (PMC), a private entity, to develop the country’s first mineral processing project in the province.

The agreement was signed at the provincial government’s Balochistan Mineral Resources Limited (BMRL) office, Quetta.

The company plans to value-add and convert raw fluorite ore into acid grade calcium fluoride that will be sold as a feedstock to many chemical industries established internationally. Calcium Fluoride (CaF2) is also known as fluorite or fluorspar.

Director PMC Ismail Suttar signed the agreement with Balochistan Mineral Resource Limited, which was represented by its Managing Director Saeed Sarpara. The signing was witnessed by Minister of Mines and Minerals Umair Hasni.

“We can reach a capacity of producing 250,000 tons in the second year after producing 60,000 to 100,000 tons in the first year,” Suttar told Business Recorder.

Suttar added that 100% of the fluorspar produced will be exported initially. However, he expects that there will soon be businesses that would be able to use fluorspar to produce Freon – a highly processed gas used in refrigerators.

“This joint venture can lead to exports of $250 million annually. Roughly the same quantity is being exported for just $60 million in raw form,” said Suttar, who is also President of the Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We are exporting raw ore at a minimum price that is converted into valuable products like steel, chemicals, and ozone-friendly refrigerants in countries like China, Turkey, USA etc and is re-purchased by Pakistan at extremely high price.

“If we wish to straighten our trade balance deficit, we have to start developing value-added products,” he added.

After through research, PMCL and Lasbela chamber established that the average available fluorite resource in the district of Loralai is found to be 1.6 million tons. The company will start extraction in the region and will convert this available raw ore into acid grade calcium fluorite in its production facility installed in Hub, Balochistan.

Suttar added that the government’s BMRL will enjoy a share of 5% from the profits without having to invest in the project.

MD Sarpara said the agreement is the first of its kind which is not only restricted to mining but also explores the avenues of value-addition and identified this project at a worth of Rs3 billion.

Minister of Mines and Minerals, Umair Hasni congratulated PMC and BMRL and thanked Suttar for his unwavering support and efforts to develop this precious sector.

Suttar said that Pakistan is not an export-oriented country at the moment and this JV is a stepping stone that will be a gateway for the establishment of new industries, enhancement of trade through exports of value-added products and tapping new regional and export markets.


 
Chutiya economic plan from lumber 1 chutiyays is doomed to fail...$250mn exports in duffers kay baap bhi nahi kar sakta...though they are very well capable of exporting $250mn dollars in money laundering for the sepoys and their minion politicians...
 
So the caretaker government can sign agreements but can't remove free electricity and other perks to the government employees?
 
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Governance, Technical and Regulatory Challenges in the Development of Minerals Sector and the Way Forward​


As an export commodity, minerals earn valuable foreign exchange, while domestic mineral development reduces dependency on imports, conserving valuable foreign exchange for other pressing alternate needs.

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Natural resources, particularly minerals, play an important role as capital formation and generators of socioeconomic growth in the development of a country. Most mineral deposits are located in remote, underdeveloped areas. Exploration of these projects is labor-intensive, providing governments with poverty alleviation opportunities.

As an export commodity, minerals earn valuable foreign exchange, while domestic mineral development reduces dependency on imports, conserving valuable foreign exchange for other pressing alternate needs.

The Nature of Mineral Industry

The mineral industry is extraordinarily complex due to the physical characteristics, heterogeneity and non-renewability of mineral resources, their remote and uncertain occurrences, and development and processing requirements.

The industry involves long gestation periods, high costs and risks; elapsed time between exploration and commercial production varies between ten to twenty years or more. Furthermore, due to intricate and lengthy operations, minerals are expensive to find and develop and due to intrinsic uncertainties, the return on capital is neither quick nor sure.

There is a considerable difference between the value of raw mineral inputs to industry and outputs in the form of finished customer goods due to extensive value added in employment and economic activity.


Historical Perspective

The share of the mineral sector in the national GDP, including oil and gas, remains about one percent. The mineral industry has generally remained a neglected and underdeveloped sector. In the early seventies, each province established mineral development corporations and authorities to expand mineral exploration, development and commercial exploitation.

However, in the non-availability of geological data and infrastructure, a prerequisite in the mining industry, after two decades and substantial public sector financing, no significant breakthrough in the identification of new mineral deposits or development of already identified exploration targets could be made other than the evaluation of already identified Saindak copper-gold deposit in Balochistan and its commissioning with China’s assistance.


The share of the mineral sector in the national GDP, including oil and gas, remains about 1%.


A detailed review by the Government of Pakistan on the failure to achieve anticipated goals underscores the decision to establish the public sector for harnessing mineral wealth as premature. Without primary geological data and developing human resources, the optimism in making significant discoveries by the public sector was naiveté.

The experience of constructing the Saindak copper-gold deposit in the public sector with an investment of over Rs. 12 billion during 1989-92 and subsequent non-operation of the project convinced decision-makers not to invest public funds in any commercial mining venture.

The review recommends adherence to international mining industry practices, i.e., government to restrict its activities to generating primary geological data and identifying exploration targets, while evaluation and commercial exploitation should be assigned to the private sector.

The report further resolved that in the absence of a domestic private mining industry, endeavors be made to attract and secure international investment, offering investment-friendly and pragmatic mineral policies.

The government formulated its first National Mineral Policy (NMP) in 1995, with the consensus of all provinces. The NMP offers an internationally competitive, investment-friendly regulatory regime and appropriate institutional arrangements at both federal and provincial levels.

Unfortunately, the Policy could not be implemented till 2001, when on a presidential directive, the provinces half-heartedly implemented the policy, made institutional arrangements and enacted a time-bound regulatory regime.

The NMP-prescribed institutional arrangements were tailored, and non-technical bureaucrats, unacquainted with the dynamics of the mining industry, were placed as heads of newly created institutions. During the revision of the NMP in 2013, the provinces were coerced to change the highest decision-making fora (MIFB and MIFA).


There is a considerable difference between the value of raw mineral inputs to industry and outputs in the form of finished customer goods due to extensive value added in employment and economic activity.
 
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