KARACHI: Chaghai district of Balochistan has huge deposits of gold, copper and other precious metals, experts say.
Shahid Noor Khan, a geologist at the Geological Survey of Pakistan, had discovered gold and copper deposits in the area in 1962.
Apart from Reko Diq and Saindak, eight more reserves were also discovered in the district with the help of international geologists. However, initial work has yet not been started.
Chaghai is the largest district of Pakistan spread over an area of over 700 kilometres – equal to the entire landmass of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The district includes plains, deserts and mountain ranges. Its population is about 150,000. Chaghai shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran. Baloch tribes straddle both sides of the border.
Geologist Khan’s discovery was not given proper attention by government authorities. However, later the government hired UN experts, who identified 10 gold and copper reserves. The Resource Development Corporation was established to exploit minerals in Saindak. In the 1990s an agreement was signed with a Chinese firm for the mining and processing of minerals there. Another contract was signed in 1993 for the exploration and pre-mining feasibility report and other technical works. According to geologists, the other reserves include Siah Chang reserves, spread over 3,000,000 square metres, Kabul Koh reserves, covering an area of 5,500,000 square metres, Ziarat Pir Sultan reserves over 16,200,000 squrare meters, OMI reserves, Gatori reserves, Cangord, Missi, Darban Chah and Max G White.
UN geologist Dr RH Sletto discovered all these reserves and informed the Pakistan government that feasibility studies can lead to acquisition of gold, copper and other precious metals from these reserves on a large scale.
According to experts, if Pakistan focuses on the development of infrastructure, technical expertise and manpower, it can get precious metals from these places for hundreds of years.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2011.