Wednesday September 28, 2022

PCJCCI sees marble sector earning over $200mn/year

By Our Correspondent
July 15, 2022

LAHORE: Pakistan-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) has urged the government to incentivise the marble industry of Pakistan for value-addition to encourage exports worth over $200 million annually.

The PCJCCI suggested setting up of a marble city in the federal capital and establishment of more Common Facility and Training Centres (CFTCs) in the country with the collaboration of China.

A meeting was conducted at PCJCCI premises on Thursday for reviewing ways and means to resolve the issues confronted by the marble industry.

PCJCCI President Wang Zihai said the government should pay special attention to the development of the marble and granite industry as it could pave the way to rapid recovery of the economy by increasing exports.

Pakistan is the 6th largest mineral extractor of marble and granite and has a place on world mining map. The country has enormous potential to promote exports of marble products as it possesses huge marble and granite reserves of around 350 million tonnes and 64 varieties of marble and granite stones, he added.

“Currently, the global market for marble and granite was estimated at around $62 billion, but Pakistan's share was below one percent, which should be a cause of concern for the policymakers,” Zihai said, adding that with government support, marble industry could become the backbone of the economy.

With the right approach and incentives, the sector could fetch Pakistan more than $200 million per year in exports, Zihai pointe out.

PCJCCI Senior Vice President Ehsan Choudhry said the high electricity cost use of obsolete mining techniques, lack of financing facility and processing units, law and order issues in major mining areas, inconsistent power supply, insufficient infrastructure from mines to ports, lack of value-addition, improper transportation facilities and supply chain problems were the major hurdles that were holding back this industry from achieving its full growth potential.

“We should facilitate investors to overcome power shortages; the erratic power crisis is a gigantic obstacle in attracting investments. Most of the existing dimension-stone processing units have been compelled to work on 5 percent of installed capacity due to hours of load-shedding,” he informed.

He said that to meet the industrial power needs, investors should be encouraged to install and maintain their own coal-power plants. “Taxes and duties can be lifted or at least relaxed for importing power plants and spare parts etc,” he added.

PCJCCI Vice President Sarfaraz Butt said marble miners should stop using the blasting method, and get latest machinery on rental basis for extracting marble. “Standard wastage in the world is 45 percent for the marble sector,” he said, adding that in Pakistan blasting technique destroyed 85 percent marble during mining.

“With the use of technology and innovation, we can even utilise marble powder for building blocks,” Butt said.

China is the major importer of Pakistani marble with a share of almost 85 percent. China is enthusiastically interested in local marbles and establishing joint ventures with Pakistani marble exporters, but security reasons and deteriorating law and order situation were demoralising the investors, the PCJCCI said.