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April 5, 2011

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Unearthing Pakistan’s natural resources

Unearthing Pakistan’s natural resources
Pakistan is blessed with vast land, natural gas reserves, petroleum, extensive coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone and gold besides other natural resources, many of them hitherto undiscovered. In fact, according to one survey, Pakistan has the second largest salt mine, second largest coal reservoirs, fifth largest gold mines, seventh largest copper mines, the country is the 11th largest wheat producer, 12th largest rice producer and seventh country of the world with nuclear power.
Two of Pakistan’s major natural resources are at Reko Diq and Thar. Reko Diq is a giant copper and gold project in Chagai district, Balochistan, in a desert area 70 kilometres northwest of Naukundi. Reko Diq is close to Pakistan’s border with Iran and Afghanistan.
According to experts, Reko Diq has proven gold and copper reserves worth US$260 billion and estimated gold and copper reserves worth US$3 trillion. Mineweb.com has stated that Reqo Diq “is believed to be one of the world’s largest reserves of gold and copper.... Reko Diq is believed to contain 12.3 million tonnes of copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold in inferred and indicated resources. Some surveys have suggested that Reko Diq may contain as much as 11 billion pounds of copper and nine million ounces of gold.”
Meanwhile, some experts believe that Reqo Diq also contains rare earth elements. These elements, which are even more precious and in much greater and growing demand than gold, are used in latest high-tech equipment and batteries for all electric cars, etc. It is China that controls 95% of the world’s supply of rare elements.
Thar coal is also a major blessing for the country. According to experts, there is 175 billion tonnes of coal available in Thar, which is equal to 618 billion barrels of crude oil. These experts say Thar coal deposits extend across the border and are currently being mined for power generation in Rajistan state in India. While they were discovered in 1991, for some time, the deposits were ignored as they had low calorific value. On the other hand, Thar Coal is environmentally friendly with a low Sulfur content. Things have now changed. The four ongoing projects of coal-fired power plants in Tharparkar would produce 2,300 megawatts over a period of four to five years. Four companies are executing the coal projects with a total cost of $4.7 billion.
Many of the natural resources of Pakistan have not been discovered due to various limitations. Some figures reveal that natural resources exploration is probably only 20-30 percent of actual deposit estimates. There is a need to develop a sound strategy to explore and utilize the resources. What we have should be used with great care.
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