ISLAMABAD - Ministry of Planning and Development has started a new initiative - Cluster Development Based Mineral Transformation Plan - to improve productivity in mines and mineral sector and enhance exports.

The initiative, costing Rs62.21 million has been launched under Vision-2025 and would increase value addition and create jobs in mineral sector.

Nature has bestowed Pakistan with enormous and diversified world class mineral resources, coal, copper, gold, building stones, industrial raw materials, gemstones, etc. Both public and private sectors are working to exploration and development.

As per Annual Development Plan (ADP) 2018-19, the mines and mineral contribution towards GDP growth was 0.09 per cent in 2017-18 while Vision 2025 and 12th Five Year Plan envisage fundamental improvements for mineral sector.

Moreover, Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) has designed a number of annual field programmes and projects likely minerals investigation, geological mapping, geophysical exploration, exploration and evaluation of coal, geochemical exploration of precious metals, geo-environmental and ground water studies, exploration of iron ore, geo hazard assessment and geo-technical projects, geochemical analysis and medical geology for next year.

An area of about 12800 sq km is planned to be geologically mapped in different parts of the country. Around 200 samples will be taken in this time period while conducting this survey and geochemical analysis will be carried out.

Even though the operational funds provided in regular budget are short to meet the project expenses, GSP aims to achieve technical targets in the upcoming financial year within the available resources.

The efforts will be concentrated towards mineral exploration and geological mapping projects including iron ore, coal, copper and gold in areas of Punjab and Balochistan province, while lead-zinc-barite investigations will be carried out in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Sindh.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad, some regions of Punjab such as Kasur, Faisalabad and different regions of AJK some of the environmental, geo-technical studies, urban and hydro-geological studies will be carried out.

A total of four ongoing development projects will be implemented in fiscal year 2018-19 accompanied by six newly proposed development projects subject to their approval from competent forum.

In newly proposed development projects GSP intends not only to explore the mineral and coal reserves of the country but has also proposed up-gradation of its laboratories as well as its accommodation facilities in a bid to enhance its geochemical analytical capabilities, efficiency and work outputs of its workers.

The salient features of the Vision for mineral sector are strengthening institutions, removing infrastructure bottlenecks, promoting public private partnership, encouraging investment, developing skills and building knowledge economy, easing of doing business and increasing labour.

Regarding performance of the sector during current year, the Plan revealed that Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation was Rs 424.799 million for two development projects - Acquisition of Four Drilling Rigs for Geological Survey of Pakistan, and Exploration and Evaluation of Metallic Minerals, in Uthal and Bela Areas, District Lasbela, Balochistan.