MARBLE INDUSTRY IS A BOON

DR.S.M.ALAM & M.A.KHAN
Jan 26 - Feb 01, 2009

The use of marble as flooring material dates back to the time of Greeks and Romans and it is now finding its way back into people's homes, offices, institutions, buildings etc. Marble tiles come in a variety of colors, designs, shapes and patterns. Each design and pattern differs and varies from tiles to tiles. This makes it ideal for indoor flooring. Marble floors are durable. They are hypo-allergenic making it difficult for bacteria and germs to survive on their surface and thus making it a germ free.

Imported and local marble tiles are available in prices varied according to their quality and design. Some tiles such as Cream and Cloud grey are within reasonable price range. Expensive tiles include Rose Aurora, Classic as well as black and white marble. Cheaper tiles are available in the market in endless numbers.

Marble is the most valued mineral stowed by nature upon Pakistan. It is an architectural material. It is widely used for cladding, flooring, corner tops and high-end furniture.

Technically speaking, marble is metamorphic, crystalline limestone, distinguished from other limestone principally by its adaptability to receive a polish. It is used as an ornamental building stone, also for decorative and monument purposes. Commercially, marble is any crystalline rock composed predominantly of calcite, dolomite or serpentine. It's decorative finish and durability makes it an ideal application in high traffic areas and withstands extreme climatic conditions.

MARBLE MATERIALS:

Pakistan possesses huge reserves of marble in NWFP and Balochistan provinces. It has enormous wealth of decorative and building stones such as granites, diorite, dunite, tanatite, pyroxenite, serpentite, gabbro, onyx, marble of different shades, re-crystallized limestone, fossiliferrous limestone, sand stone, and magnesium sandstones etc.

GRANITES:

Nagarparker in the south east Sindh and Chitral, Kohistan, Swat, Dir, Swabi and Manshera in the North (NWFP)and Northern areas so far are the only sources of workable granites in the country. However, Gilgit region (northern areas) indicates great potential of variety, quality and quantity of granites that according to geological evidences have superiority over other granites in Pakistan. The granite stows black, pink, grey, green, yellow, white or red colors. Similarly marble and onyx holds black, pink, yellow, grey, green, red or white colors.

Balochistan is endowed with marble deposits. The marble and onyx is sliced mainly in Lasbela, Khuzdar and, Chaghi districts of the province. Onyx marble has been cut since 1950's in Chaghi district. Onyx marble has great demand in the international market for its vast applications and uses. The onyx marble from Chaghi can meet the international standards if it is processed efficiently. Marbles of different classifications, fossiferrous limestone, serpentine etc. have deposits in other provinces mainly in NWFP and Northern areas. The different colors are black, green and white, dark green. Out of 160 million tons of marble reserves estimated in Pakistan about 158 million tons are in the NWFP and 2 million tons in Balochistan.

According to statistics provided by Pakistan Stone Development Company, the exports from the sector, including marble, granite and onyx products amounted to $21 million in 2005-06, 28 % increase as compared to 2006-07. Approximately 0.3 million tons of marble is shipped daily to 52 countries worldwide.

The total number of granite and marble processing factories in different cities of the country is: Karachi (180), Hyderabad (6), Quetta (3), Multan (35), Faisalabad (28), Sarghoda (6), Lahore (93), Gujranwala (11), Sialkot (6), Gujrat (6), Rawalpindi (112), Islamabad (51), NWFP and FATA (700), and Balochistan (10). The total units come to about 920 in different parts of the country. The units are of cutters, vertical machines auto polishers, manual polishers and chip tiles.

Marble is largely used in construction and handicrafts sectors. Amongst the building stones, marble occupies a unique position. Since time immemorial, marble has been used in mosques, temples, churches, palaces, monuments etc. as an ornamental and decorative stones because of its pleasing colors and attractive patterns designs. Marble slabs and handicrafts have great demand in national and international market.