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May 9, 2020

Balochistan’s 20,000 tons of iron ore put on sale


May 9, 2020

KARACHI: The joint venture firm of Balochistan government and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) has put the second lot of 20,000 metric tons of mined iron ore on sale, it was learnt on Friday.

Officials said Bolan Mining Enterprises (BME) is selling iron ore on ex-mine basis. BME started mining of iron ore from its mining lease in Pachinko of Chagai district, and this is the second lot put on sale, according to the officials

BME was formed through a joint venture agreement signed on June 1, 1974 between the two for 30 years to mine, grind and market baryte deposits in Gunga near Khuzdar and other minerals in Balochistan.

PPL was designated as operator under the agreement. The agreement was renewed in June 2004 for another 30 years, valid till 2033. Each company shares a 50 percent working interest in the joint venture.

An official said the company planned to further enhance its baryte powder sales through installation of a new grinding mill for value-added sales. Moreover, BME is working towards acquiring other mineral rights.

PPL is evaluating diversification in minerals and energy sectors and is actively pursuing mining activities in lead, zinc and iron ore, the official said.

PPL Chief Executive Office Moin Raza Khan said the company is shifting its attention towards mining, and planned to export zinc and lead from next year.

“There is a gloomy picture if you look at the current oil and gas scenario… We have to diversify into minerals,” Khan told Bloomberg last year. He said the company would run out of petroleum resources in nine years, until new discoveries were made.

Chigendik and Pachinko deposits in Chagai have an estimated reserve of 2.22 and 3.23 million tons of iron ore, respectively.

BME operates two grinding mills for barytes with the total production capacity to 70,000 - 80,000 metric tons barytes annually.

BME holds two mining licences, valid until 2026, in the northwest of Nok Kundi for mining of iron ore. However, mining activities were held up due to litigation on mining lease. Exploration activities for identifying new iron ore prospects in the litigation free area were initiated during 2017/18.

In phase-I, 640 meters of exploratory drilling was done during 2017/18. In phase-II, further geophysical investigations and exploratory drilling of 1,500 meters were planned during 2018/19.

BME recorded production of 261,689 tons of baryte in 2018/19 and posted highest-ever sales of 228,310 tons of baryte ore and powder were recorded in 2018/19, breaking previous record of 206,921 tons in 2017/18.

Considering the demand for commercial sales of iron ore products from Nok Kundi, various studies were undertaken to set up a beneficiation plant. These two areas host about 50 million tons inferred resources.