NATURAL RESOURCES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Mineral, power and forest resources are the foundation of economic development They help in giving an initial push to the raising of production in all sectors of the economy. If the quality of manpower is high a country, it will make the best use of the natural resources and attain development in the shortest possible period of time. Human and natural resources are thus both determining factors in economic development.
We, in this article, briefly examine the importance, quantity and the quality of the mineral power and forest resources available in Pakistan. The resources are discussed under separate heads.
1. MINERAL RESOURCES
The minerals, like the forest are the precious wealth of a country. These are extracted from earth. Some minerals like coal, iron, copper et .are found in solid forms and some like gas, petrol, oil etc are discovered in liquid shape.
A country with large deposits of minerals provides a sound base for the development of a large number of industries viz.. iron, steel, petrol chemicals, cement, pottery etc. The discovery of varied mineral deposits provides employment to a large number of persons living in that area. Their economic condition improves. The availability of mineral resources in the country reduces the import bill of many items like oil, chemicals machinery etc. The mining sector thus makes a significant contribution to GDP.
The discovery of huge reservoirs of natural gas is a great blessing of God t Pakistan. The gas is a very good substitute for coal and petroleum. It is also used as a raw material in various industries such as fertilizer, rayon, plastic, resin etc. The Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC) assisted by a few other foreign oil companies is making hectic efforts in the survey and exploration of gas and oil resources in different parts of the country. These efforts have born fruit at many places like Pirkoh Toot and Dhodak. The recent discovery of oil and gas reserves at Dement is very significant. As on April, 1,2007, the recoverable reserves of natural gas have been estimated at 31.81 trillion cubic feet. The average production of natural gas by 13 different gas companies is 3876 million cubic feet per day.
LPG: LIQUEFIED Petroleum Gas:
The LPG is economical, clear, and environmental friendly fuel. It is the most popular domestic fuel in areas where supply of natural gas is technical or operationally not feasible. All present about 1650 million tons per day LPG is being produced daily. There are 22 LPG companies marketing the indigenous and imported LPG in the country. The Government has deregulated the allocation and price of LPG from Sept. 2000 to keep the prices of LPG at reasonable level.
CNG: compressed Natural Gas:
The use of CNG in automotive vehicles is being encouraged to reduce pressure on petroleum imports and improve environment. The Government has issued instructions to promote CNG in the transport sector as an alternative fuel.
2. Crude Oil. Oil is called the liquid gold. It is an important source of energy. It contributes about 44.6% to the total energy supply of the country. The balance recoverable reserves of crude oil s 1.1.2007 is estimated at 317 million barrels.
3. Coal. Pakistan has a sufficiently large resource base of coal of about 185 billion tunes. Deposits of over 175 billion tunes in the deserts of Send have been discovered. The drilling is in progress. During the year 2006-07 the PMDC (Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation) has produced 4.9 million tunes of coal.
4. Chlorite. Chlorite is an important mineral and is used in hardening and refining ores, leather tanning, manufacture of steel goods, chemicals etc. Fairly large deposits of Chlorite have been found near Muslimbagh in Zhob District (Baluchistan). Chlorite deposits also occur in Peshawar and Kalat Divisions but are not being mined. The production of Chlorite has been persistently declining in the past few years due to the tough international competition from Rhodesia, Korea, Turkey, and U.S.A.
5. Barite. Barite (commonly called drilling mud) is mainly used in oil well drilling operations. Fairly large deposits of Barite have been discovered in Khuzdar district in Baluchistan and in Hazara district NWFP. A Barite grinding plant has been set up at Khuzdar.
6. Gypsum. Gypsum is being used in the production of cement, chemical fertilizers, plaster of Paris etc. Very large deposits of gypsum are found in all the four provinces of Pakistan.
7. Limestone. Limestone is used in cement industry, building and constructional material. Large deposits of limestone are found in all the provinces of Pakistan. The total production of limestone was 14.6 thousand tones in 2006.
8. Rock Salt. Rock Salt is used for domestic and commercial purposes. Its main deposits are found in Jhelum, Mianwail and Kohat district. The annual production of rock salt was 2012 thousand tones in 2007.
9. Silica Sand. Silica Sand is mainly used in chemicals metallurgical and refractory industries. Its deposits are in Mianwali. Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Dadu and Hazara districts.
10. Soapstone. Soapstone is used as a raw material in many industries like paints, roofing tiles soap insecticides etc. The production of soapstone was 42 thousand tones.
11. Magnetite. Magnetite is mainly found in Nasal in Zhob district. Some quantity has also been discovered in Sherwan in NWFP.