ISLAMABAD: The nature has bestowed Pakistan with a vast potential of mineral ores including a good range of precious and glittering gemstones, which need appropriate attention of the government, especially investors to exploit them.
Different varieties of minerals like peridot, aquamarine, topaz, ruby, emerald, rare-earth minerals sucha as bastnaesite and xenotime, sphene, tourmaline, besides many types of quartz make the country prominent in the mineral world.
The northern and northwestern parts of the country are shrouded by three world-famous mountain ranges called Hindukush, Himalaya, and Karakorum, from where nearly all the minerals, which Pakistan is currently offering to the world market, have been found so far.
Although the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources was consistently offering investment opportunities in the mineral sector, but it could not make significant progress due to one reason or the other.
Official sources said that out of 25 precious, semi precious stones and mineral specimens, seven were intermittently exploited and marketed all over the world.
“These are emerald of Swat, rubies of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Hunza-Ishkoman, Gilgit, pink topaz of Mardan, aquamarine and tourmaline of Gilgit and Chitral, peridot of Kohistan and Pargasite of Hunza,” they said, adding that all these gems have attractive colours, excellent crystal clarity and a range of size as well as weight, meeting any international standard.
Inviting investors, they said tremendous potential existed for investment in the subject of scientific mining, cutting and polishing for value addition of gemstone from the known localities and exploration for further findings.
Found abundant in Kashmir, Hunza and Gilgit, official sources said that potential resources of ruby were estimated at about 24.9 million grams in these areas.
While topaz of Mardan and Skardu have their own attraction for explorers. The best known deposits of emerald are located at Mingora in Malakand ivision, 160-km northeast of Peshawar.
“The Swat deposits are producing excellent quality gems, which are considered some of the finest emeralds in the world. The stones have become famous for their brilliance, medium to deep green colour and unique transparency,” they maintained.
They added that gem quality tourmaline was found in the Kohistan magmatic arc Zone-6 at Haraosh near Gilgit, Stak Nala between Gilgit and Skardu, Bulecli and Shingus in Gilgit division and Garm Chashma in Chitral.
Tourmaline at Haraosh is discovered in pink, blue, and green varieties, whereas the Stak Nala is now famous for bi-colour and tri-colour tourmaline.
Gem grade tourmaline also occurs at Buleclhi and Shingus, Gilgit, they said, adding that blue tourmaline is found in pegmatite of Garm Chashma (Chitral). Green tourmaline is also found in Azad Kashmir.
“Peridot of Indus Kohistan is one of the most beautiful gemstones of Pakistan and is sporadically being mined at different localities. It has already captured market both locally and abroad,” the sources remarked.
Despite the presence of bodies concerned including Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), All Pakistan Commercial Exporter Association and Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, besides holding of regular gems and stones exhibitions at different level, no significant development is taking place to tap the exploited potential in the gemstone sector.
There is a need to conduct surveys in the potential areas in collaboration with reputable institutes to attract foreign investors in this sector, which can significantly contribute to the national kitty.
According to a report, mostly non-professional residents of mining areas are actually the ones who mine these jewels in hazardous and traditional way. They usually form groups that initiate diggings and blasting, damaging the quality and quantity of the jewels.