GEOLOGICAL CONFIGURATION OF THE GILGIT-BALTISTAN
Spreading over an area of 72,400 Sq.km, the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan is shrouded by the three conspicuous world famous Mountain Ranges namely
- The Himalayas
- The Karakoram
- The Hindu Kush
Geologically the region is characterized by:
- Presence of Various types of sedimentary, igneous, volcanic and different grades of metamorphosed rocks .
- All these rocks range in age from pre-Cambrian to recent.
- Occurrence of 2 major tectonic thrusts.
- Typical rocks of the mélange zone.
- Rocks of the Island arc sequence.
- Variety of alteration zones.
GEOLOGICAL STATUS OF THE GILGIT-BALTISTAN
The presence of these geological features designate the entire region having most suitable geological environments as compared to the rest of the world where mineral deposits of economic grade are being extracted. These include metallic, non-metallic, energy minerals, precious/dimension stones and different rocks of industrial use.
STATUS OF ECONOMIC MINERAL POTENTIAL OF GILGIT-BALTISTAN
During the past, extensive geological exploration has been conducted by various national and international organizations as well as world renown geo-scientific research institutes in the entire region. Consequently world class geo-technical data has been generated that has established occurrences of various mineral commodities targets for subsequent development and ultimate mining. These include:-
- Precious and base metals
- Precious and semi-precious gemstones,
- Industrial minerals
- Placer deposits for recovery of gold & other precious metals form the alluvial deposits.
INDUSTRIAL MINERALS AND DIMENSION STONES
Quite a few industrial minerals like china clay, feldspars have been reported from the region and dimension stones among which marble and granite are eye-catching. Adequate deposits of dimension stones are found in Ghizer, Skardu ,Hunza/Nagir and Gilgit Districts, besides serpentinite deposits at District Skardu. Presently these are being mined using indiscriminate blasting techniques which not only destroy this natural resource but also result wastage of more than 75% of the total yield. There is great investment opportunity to develop insitue block cutting quarries by deploying modern machinery that will consequently enhance its selling price
Huge deposits of Silky white Granite is available at Hanzel and many other locations Silky white granite has been cut and polished from the boulders of Hanzel and used in the construction of Holiday Inn Lahore
RECOVERY OF GOLD AND OTHER HEAVY MINERALS FROM PLACERS
Gold extraction from the placers is known in the region since time immemorial. The Hunza, Ghizer and Indus rivers with majority of the sub-tributaries joining these rivers are gold bearing. vast terraces having depth to a range of 120 meters are frequently exposed along all these rivers. A survey conducted in 1998 revealed that local gold-washers extract about 15Kg gold annually from the entire region. These gold washers use primitive techniques including mercury amalgamation for recovery of this yellow metal normally washing 700 to 1000 kg. sand daily by deploying 8-10 persons. With the development of latest techniques, mechanized gold recovery system is now available that can process from 5 to 50 tons per hour of placers with ensured safe recovery of gold along with other metals like titanium, gems, magnetite etc.
FUTURE PLANS OF THE GB GOVT. FOR ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT OF THE MINERAL SECTOR
Uplift of the Gilgit-Baltistan is one of top priority of the present Government. We all wish to see these far-flung areas to prosper. We want these areas to open for all developmental activities so that the local people harness the benefits of the mineral wealth. In view of having a huge potential for investment in the mineral sector of GilgitBaltistan, the Govt. of GB has already adopted the National Mineral Policy (NMP) already in vogue in other federating units of the country. Mining concession rules are framed as per provision of the policy. One of the component of the policy, i.e, formation of Mineral investment facilitation Authority has been formed and notified, while setting up of a regular Directorate General of Mines and Minerals for effective implementation of legal, financial and administrative regimes provided in the NMP is in the offing.
NATIONAL MINERAL POLICY (NMP) 1995- SALIENT FEATURES
- Time bound, simplified having progressive fiscal regime.
- Lighter tax burden in early years of mine life.
- Provides appropriate institutional and consultative mechanism at federal and provincial levels for dispute resolution.
- Generation of basic geological data to the extent of defining exploration target; a federal subject.
- Provinces to develop exploration targets into investment opportunities and to grant titles & regulate mining laws.
- Private sector to convert the discovery into economic resource.
AVAILABLE INCENTIVES FOR THE PRIVATE ENTREPRENURES
- Lapidary facilities are available in Gilgit-Baltistan including trained manpower from Italy.
- Availability of cheaper electricity.
- Available infra-structure for hydel power self generation in the entire region for establishment of mineral processing units
After completion of exploratory work and submission of feasibility report and conversion of exploration license in to a mining lease the intending entrepreneurs shall be provided infra-structure facilities like roads to the respective mining sites.
Gilgit-Baltistan needs to be got rid of poverty and brought in to main stream of social life that can only be done through development of its available natural resources. We can address the problem by taking bold initiatives. we have the capacity to do it by implementing purposeful projects for the people’s welfare. In order to fulfill its mandated obligations, the Govt. of Gilgit-Baltistan has the determined plans for it and is all times on the lookout for related National as well as Multinational Organizations and entrepreneurs for seeking their technical assistance in this regard.