1- ISO 9000








Feb 23 - 29, 2004





Huge reserves of good quality iron ore estimated at above 400 million tonnes have been discovered at Rajwa, Chaniot in Central Punjab and the Punjab Government is seriously considering to set up a steel mill at the site on the pattern of Karachi Steel Mills.

This was disclosed by the Mine and Mineral Minister of the Punjab Government at a press conference. He said that work was also in progress at six other sites for the discovery of iron, salt and coal reserves at Mianwali, Khushab and Makkarwal as per survey of these areas giving strong indications of such reserves. But huge deposits of good quality of iron ore fit for production of steel has been confirmed. According to experts deposits are estimated to be over 400 million tonnes, he added.

Un-doubtedly, this is a welcome development as the availability of indigenous iron ore of acceptable quality on a commercial scale would significantly enable the country to cut down the need to import ore from abroad. (at present Pakistan Steel imports ore to the extent of 1.8 million tonnes annually). The local availability of iron ore would also be seen as a timely discovery in view of the fact that the plan for a new steel mill project with a capacity of one million tonnes annually has been firmed up by a Saudi group of industrialists. The proposed project is going to be established in the Karachi Export Processing Zone adjacent to Pakistan Steel. Thus the iron ore reserves discovered at Chiniot should go into commercial production at an early date, not only meeting the requirements of Pakistan Steel to begin with but also feeding the upcoming Saudi-sponsored steel mill which is planned for implementation over the next two years.

The long-pending expansion plans of Pakistan Steel from the present capacity of 1.1 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes and then to 3 million tonnes annually, are also likely to gain a lot in terms of viability in view of the prospects of ensured supply of indigenous iron ore. It will be therefore, advisable for the Punjab mining department to mobilize resources and make other relevant arrangements to speed up the process of commercial development of the Chiniot iron ore reserves as early as possible. The project may be implemented by inviting participation of foreign mining firms like the one from Australia which is already engaged in the exploration of copper mines in Balochistan. The prospects of Chinese firms offering both financial and technical assistance for the commercial development of the reserves can also not be ruled out. A group of Chinese firms is already associated with the development of coal mining in Thar, Sindh.

However, the plan, as reported, to established Pakistan's second steel mill on the pattern of Pakistan Steel near the site of the Chiniot reserves may not prove viable in view of the fact that Pakistan Steel Mill's expansion in capacity will be more economical than the cost of a new steel plant. Moreover, the proposed expansion of Pakistan Steel to 3 million tonnes annually will be enough to meet the entire requirements of the country's steel products at least for the next 50 years. It may be recalled here that iron ore reserves have also been commercially developed in Balochistan by Bolan Mining Enterprise, which is a public sector organization. The company concluded an agreement last year with Pakistan Steel Mills for the supply of one lakh tonnes of iron ore annually. But the quality of the iron ore with only 35 percent or iron content, was not found to be fully suitable for steel production. However, as a gesture of goodwill, Pakistan Steel has agreed to purchase this iron ore which would be upgraded through admixture of 15 percent additional iron content. This agreement is apparently indicative of Pakistan Steel's keen desire to obviate dependence on the import of iron ore from abroad. Thus with the avaibaility of Chiniot iron ore a long-awaited economic need of the country will be fulfilled.