Experts see huge potential of Pakistan’s Gemstone Industry

 
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Islamabad, July 4 (TNS): Experts say that the minerals, especially gemstones had huge potential to contribute in economy of Pakistan. However, envisaging a careful and practical approach as well as strategy would be a key to tap this crucial sector of the economy.

Riko Diq gold and copper reserves were still offering tremendous opportunities and hence, a right planning and proper use of technology and expertise was important to get fully benefitted from this natural wealth. Prof. Saleem H. Ali, a distinguished Professor of Energy and the Environment at the University of Delaware, USA, said this during his special lecture ‘How can Minerals Contribute to Pakistan’s Development Path?’ held at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Tuesday.

He said that the dilemma with any mineral rich country was that such resources offer positive as well as negative impacts and hence, their rational use demands highly thoughtful approach towards the possible consequences. He said that trade versus aid had been an old debate in Pakistan. However, it was important to know when to leverage each of them.

Earlier, Dr. Imran Khalid of SDPI explained the importance of the contribution of minerals for the national economy. He said that although the opinions about the potential and capacity of this sector in Pakistan were diverse, the importance of this sector of economy could not be ignored.

Prof. Saleem H. Ali said that Pakistan Bureau of Statistics last detailed report on mining was issued in the year 2005-2006 whereas Pakistan Geological Survey reports also required better citation and certification details on reserves versus resources. Thus, the lack of real data about the minerals in Pakistan was one of the fundamental issues for this sector.

To reach at a workable policy to get benefitted from minerals in Pakistan, upfront tax incentives, pace of extraction  following price or planning for scarcity and the issues related to conflict mitigation would be of critical importance. Likewise, the integrity of the environment over the long term and economic viability of the operations must remained core areas of the concern.

Highlighting the governance aspects of the sector, Prof. Saleem H. Ali said that the detailed mapping of rules, incentives, programs, and capacities to address project or operational consequences would also play imperative role while venturing into mineral exploration.

He said that interface with CPEC would have its own impacts and that might be supporting cement industry etc. whereas the importance of energy minerals such as coal would also be increased.

However, the huge potential that Pakistan could tap was in gemstone industry and thus, branding Pakistani gemstones for added value in commercial foreign jewelry markets would be instrumental in this regard. Besides, he said, coal gasification prospects could be developed with low-carbon or “clean coal” interface