LAHORE – Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, during a high-level briefing given to him by Secretary Energy Shahid Mehmood on Thursday, learnt that the Chiniot/Rajoa Iron Ore Project may shed vast reserves of gold, copper, nickel, cobalt and other minerals, apart from already located million of tons of iron ore.

He also learnt that there was a found of high-grade coal in Mianwali, while there were prospects of coal reserves in Cholistan as well. After the briefing, the chief minister directed the department concerned to build a residential colony, with a cost of Rs.1 billion, for the mining workers.

Shahbaz Sharif said that the future of the country “is closely linked with minerals, livestock and dairy development and agriculture, adding that “this goal of self-reliance can be achieved by developing these sectors.”

Issuing instructions for setting up a core committee for speedy implementation of mining and energy projects, he directed that the committee should meet twice a month for this purpose. He also issued instructions for the immediate launching of work on the project of residential colony for mines labourers.

Provincial Minister for Mines, Ch. Abdul Ghafoor, Chairman Planning & Development Javed Aslam, Chairman Special Initiatives Entity Haroon Khawaja, and experts were present on the occasion.

Secretary Energy Shahid Mehmood gave a detailed briefing regarding the pace of implementation of the Chiniot/Rajoa and Kalabagh Iron Ore projects. He said that survey of mines has been conducted and data on 337 mines has been collected. He said that a sample of 40 tons iron ore has been sent to Germany for analysis while quality of coal found at different places in Punjab is also being tested. He said that international bidding has been made for Chiniot/Rajoa Iron Ore Project in which companies of China, Russia and Germany have taken part.

Geologist Dr. Fuzail A Saddique informed that 110 million tons of iron ore reserves had been identified in Chiniot and there are also indications of the presence of other minerals in the area. He said that there was a found of high-grade coal in Mianwali while there are prospects of coal reserves in Cholistan as well. The CM said that Pakistan and Punjab province are rich in mineral wealth and their development can not only help strengthen national economy but also achieve the goal of self-sufficiency. Meanwhile, he addressed a seminar held in collaboration with Punjab Information Technology Board and Google at Lahore Technology Park, here today. After his address, the Chief Minister also gave detailed answers to the questions by the participants. Replying to a question, he said that the poor and the common man also had equal right over the resources of the country.