LAHORE: Pakistan on Wednesday said it has discovered major reserves of iron ore as well as copper, silver and gold in its central province of Punjab.
The reserves were found in Chiniot, around 160 kilometres northwest of Lahore, by Chinese group the Metallurgical Cooperation of China.
A senior provincial administrative official told AFP that initial estimates indicated 500 million tonnes of iron ore, a primary ingredient in steelmaking, had been discovered.
He said the Chinese company has expressed interest in setting up a steel mill on the site, adding that the extracted iron had been tested in Swiss and Canadian laboratories, which found 60-65 per cent of it to be high grade.
The official added that silver, copper and gold samples would also be sent for testing soon.
Speaking at the site on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the discovery could help Pakistan's stuttering economy turn a corner and end its “begging bowl” culture.
“It is Allah's blessing that under the lush green fields rich deposits of copper, iron and gold have been found, which will help the country get rid of the 'begging bowl' for good,” Nawaz said.
Conflict, instability, corruption and a chronic energy shortage have hampered Pakistan's economy for years. The IMF granted a $6.6-billion loan to Pakistan in September 2013 on the condition that it carry out extensive economic reforms, particularly in the energy and taxation sectors.
Pakistan discovers 'huge' reserves of iron ore - Pakistan - DAWN.COM
A delegation of Chinese company Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) working on exploration and certification of mineral resources project at Chiniot-Rajwa met Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Matters regarding progress on the project were discussed in the meeting. The Chief Minister expressed his satisfaction over the pace of progress on the project and said that exploration of mineral resources at Chiniot-Rajwa is of vital importance and this project is of revolutionary significance for the economy of the country especially Punjab. He said that Pakistan is rich in mineral wealth which can be utilized for strengthening of national economy and achieving the goal of progress and prosperity. He said that exploration of mineral resources can ensure a bright future for the coming generations and these resources are of no less importance for Pakistan than oil and gas. He said that Punjab government has worked on this project expeditiously. Shahbaz Sharif said that Pakistan Muslim League-N government led by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is making all out efforts for utilizing natural resources. He said that there are vast resources of iron ore at Chiniot-Rajwa and the progress on this project so far is highly satisfactory. He said that samples of iron ore reserves at Chiniot-Rajwa had been sent to international laboratories which certified presence of up to 65 percent high quality iron ore in the samples which is a good news for the whole nation. Shahbaz Sharif said that the former rulers of the province during the dictatorial era totally neglected this project of national importance only for the sake of their vested interests and no effort was made to benefit from this natural wealth. However, he said, PML-N government in view of the importance of the project acquired the services of international consultants in a highly transparent manner and an agreement was signed with the Chinese company. He said that a solid strategy has been adopted by the present government for the utilization of the mineral wealth. He said that there is also a possibility of discovery of copper and other precious minerals along with iron ore and initial results are very encouraging. He said that the project of exploration of mineral resources at Chiniot-Rajwa is of key importance for Pakistan especially Punjab and this natural wealth will prove to be a guarantee of national progress and prosperity. The Chief Minister was also shown the samples of iron ore and copper on this occasion. German expert Dr. Jurgen Hartsh gave a briefing regarding progress on the project and declared the samples of iron ore and copper as highly satisfactory which is very important. Provincial Minister for Minerals Sher Ali Khan, Secretary Minerals, Secretary Information, Project Manager Punjab Mineral Development Company as well as Chief Economist MCC Zhang Mengxing, Chairman MCC Mining Limited Zou Jianhui and other officials were also present on the occasion.