8 - 14, 2010

Gemstones are the integral part of human history. Pakistan has enormous wealth of decorative and building stones. Natural gemstones play important role in the economic development of the country. The resource is available in very large quantities in three provinces of Pakistan. However, northern areas are very rich in gemstones.

In the recent past, various regional geological surveys have confirmed the great potential of metallic minerals and marble mines in Pakistan. There is great potential of multi-colored granite, marble and other dimensional stones of high quality inside the earth crust in the country.

With regard to the industrial minerals there is a vast potential 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 uses in the country as well as to explore foreign markets for them.

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

Pakistan is home of many varieties of minerals. Some of these are best in quality as compared to minerals in other parts of the world: such as peridot, aquamarine, topaz (various colors-violets, pink, golden and champagne), ruby, emerald, rare-earth minerals bastnaesite, garnets, xenotime, tourmaline and many varieties and types of quartz.

Pakistan shares a long and porous boarder (2430 km) with Afghanistan. This topography results in 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 after the Soviet invaded Afghanistan. Before the invasion, Pakistan's only port city of Karachi was the only big market of gems mineral in Pakistan.

The Gemstones Corporation of Pakistan was established in 1979 to explore wealth of mineral in the country and to facilitate gemstones mining and business. The loftiest mountains of the world lie in the northern and northwestern parts of Pakistan are shrouded with the three world famous ranges called Hindukash, Himalayan, and Karakoram mountains. These mountains hold nearly all the gem potential of Pakistan, comprising a number of precious and semiprecious gemstones deposits and fascinating mineral stone specimen.

Pakistan currently offers to the world market aquamarine, topaz, peridot, ruby, emerald, amethyst, morganite, zoisite, spinel, sphere and tourmaline. The few specimen and major gemstone mining areas in Pakistan are:

- NWFP: Swat (Malakand Division) -Emerald, garnet, various types of quartz; Dir (Malakand Division) - corundum and quartz; Manshera (Haraza Division) -corundum, peridot, smoky quartz, spinel, and agate; Kohistan (Hazara (Division) -peridot; Mardan - light topaz, pink topaz; Peshawar district - quartz, tourmaline, and bastnaesite.

- Federally Administrated Tribal Areas: Mahmand Agency- emerald, clinozoisite, sphere, and epidote; Bajaur Agency - emerald, garnet and scapolite; Khyber Agency - quartz with astrophyllite; Northwest Waziristan Agency - quartz, diamond quartz, phantom quartz window quartz.

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

- Azad Kashmir: (Neelum valley) -tourmaline, quartz, Kashmir ruby, pink beryl, aquamarine, garnets etc.

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

- Sindh: Nagarparkar - agate, quartz, marble

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. Realizing the vast potential of mineral reserves, there is great opportunity for the multinational companies to invest in this sector.