Feb 09 - 15, 2009

Gemstones are available in very large quantities in most of the provinces of Pakistan. The Northern areas are very rich in gemstones mining. In the recent past, various regional geological surveys have been conducted and confirmed huge reserves of metallic minerals and marble mines inside the earth layers. There is a great and vast potential of multi-colored granite, marble and other dimensional stones of high quality in the earth crust.

As regards the industrial minerals there is enormous presence of multi-colored minerals such as granites, and other dimensional stones of high quality in the northern areas of the country. The ministry of mining has prepared a strategy of mining, cutting, polishing and marketing of gemstones with a view to increase their use in the country as well as volume in exports.

Pakistan has been gifted with abundant resources of several precious and semi-precious gemstones. Geologically, the northern Pakistan consisting of North-West Frontier Province, Northern Areas, Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Balochistan represents the most dynamic environment for the formation of precious stones.

Pakistan is home to many varieties of minerals such as peridot, aquiremarine, topaz (various colors-violet, pink, golden and champagne), ruby, emerald, rare-earth minerals bastnaesite, garnets, xenotime, tourmaline, etc. Some of which make them prominent in varieties of minerals in world.

Pakistan shares a long and porous boarder (2430 km) with Afghanistan. This results in a sizeable influx of all types of Afghan minerals into Pakistan. Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar serves as the first direct and only market for all mineral found in both these countries since 1979 when the USSR invaded Afghanistan.

Before the invasion, Pakistan's only port city of Karachi held the bigger market of gems mineral in Pakistan. The Gemstones Corporation of Pakistan was established in 1979 to effectively explore Pakistan's own share of wealth in mineral and to facilitate gemstones mining and business in Pakistan. The high-peaked mountains of the world lie in the northern and northwestern parts of Pakistan and are shrouded by the three world's famous ranges called Hinduhash, Himalayan, and Karakoram mountains.

In these mountains, there has been found nearly all gems comprising a number of precious and semiprecious gemstones deposits and fascinating mineral stone specimen. The few potential and major gemstone mining areas and their deposits in Pakistan are:

1- North West Frontier Province: Swat (Malakand Division)- Emerald, garnate, various types of quartz; Dir (Malakand Division)- Corundum and quartz; Manshera (Haraza Division)-Corundum, peridot and smoky quartz, and spinel, agate; Kohistan (Hazara Division)- Peridot, Mardan- light topaz, Pink topaz; Peshawar-quartz, tourmaline, and bastnaesite.

2- Federally Administrative Tribal Areas: Mahmand Agency-Emerald, clinozoisite, sphere, and epidote; Bajour Agency- Emerald, garnet and scoplite; Khyber Agency- quartz with astrophyllite; North west Waziristan Agency- quartz, diamond quartz, phantom quartz, window quartz.

3- Northern areas: Chilas (Diamer district)- zircon, ruby. Rutile quartz, aquiremarine and tourmaline, spinel, felspar Hunza; Gilgit district- Aquiremarine, topaz (golden and white), spinel, emerald, ruby, rutile, apatite, granite, pargasite, tourmaline, topaz; Skardu (Baltistan district)- topaz, aquamarine, apatite, feldspar, tourmaline, quartz; Chitral- quartz.

4- Balochistan: Chagai hills- Turquoise; Kharan district- quartz anatase; Chaman- diamond quartz, window quartz, and chlorite.

5- Sindh: Nagarparkar- Agate, quartz, and marble.

6- Azad Kashmir: Neelum valley- Tourmaline, quartz, Kashmir ruby, pink beryl, aquamarine, spessertine, and garnets.

These gemstones are occurred in several million carats in these areas. The granite occurs in black, pink, grey, green, yellow, white, and red colors. Similarly Marble and onyx occur in black, pink, yellow, grey, green, red, and white colors. Given the vast potential of mineral reserves, there is a great opportunity for the multinational companies to invest in this sector which will be beneficial for alike the economy and the investors in future.

The total number of granite and marble processing units in different cities of the country are as: Karachi (180), Hyderabad (6), Quetta (3), Multan (35), Faisalabad (28), Sarghoda (6), Lahore (93), Gujranawala (11), Sialkot (6), Gujrat (6), Rawalpindi (112), Islamabad (51), and NWFP &FATA (149). These units comprise of gang saw, cutters, auto polishers, manual polishers and chip tiles.