Balochistan govt launches initiatives to expand mining sector, develop solar salt project in Gwadar

Quetta: The Balochistan provincial government on Tuesday afternoon launched several initiatives to expand the mining sector, including the development of a Solar Salt project in Gwadar in collaboration with the Balochistan Public Private Partnership Authority (BPPPA).

As per the Pakistan Economic Survey 2023-24, Reconnaissance Licenses for Solar Salt have been issued to Balochistan Mineral Resources Limited (BMRL), a government-owned entity. Negotiations with international investors are ongoing for areas allocated to BMRL and Balochistan Mineral Exploration Company (BMEC).

Following the settlement and reinitiation of the Reko Diq project, there is a heightened focus on large-scale mining. Several Exploration Licenses (ELs) for copper, gold, and associated minerals have been awarded to both public and private sector companies. BMRL received 5 ELs, and BMEC received 4 ELs. These entities are in talks with international investors to develop these areas.

For the first time in the province, an Exploration License for lithium was granted. EL-250 was awarded to M/S Shaanxi Atlas International Mining Private Limited, covering 417 square kilometers in the Hamun-e Mashkel district, Chagai, in September 2023. The company has commenced initial surveys and drilling.

Exploration Licenses for copper and gold have been granted to private companies to expedite exploration in Chagai district. Among these, 3 ELs were issued to Degan Exploration, 3 ELs to MPCL, and 1 EL to National Resources Limited (NRL). These companies have begun preliminary studies and surveys.

The Reko Diq Mining Company (RDMC) has initiated an update of its feasibility study, expected to be completed by 2024. In December 2023, a second installment of advance royalty payment, amounting to US $2.5 million, was received as per the agreement.

For years, chromite has been mined on a small scale in Muslim Bagh (District Killa Saifullah) and Khanozai (District Pishin). The State-Owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) has now applied for large-scale Exploration Licenses for chromite in District Killa Saifullah and Zhob. Consequently, two large-scale ELs have been granted to M/S PMDC for chromite exploration.