Pakistan’s maiden Minerals Summit unveils country’s $6 trillion potential

Islamabad: Foreign investors and industry experts convened in Islamabad at the ‘Pakistan Minerals Summit’ aimed at exploring investment opportunities into Pakistan’s $6 trillion estimated worth of mineral deposits.

The minerals summit titled “Dust to Development: Investment Opportunities in Pakistan” was a joint effort by Pakistan’s Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and Canada-based Barrick Gold Corporation, facilitated by Pakistan’s Ministry of Petroleum.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir addressed the keynote sessions at the summit. The gathering held in Islamabad on August 1 was attended by federal and provincial ministers, diplomats, foreign investors, as well as mining industry experts.

Collaborative effort required to explore deposits

During his address, Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir emphasized the importance of joint efforts to realize the country’s mineral potential. With abundant mining opportunities, he invited foreign investors to contribute to realizing the potential of Pakistan’s estimated $6 trillion worth of natural deposits.

“Foreign investors will be an integral part of the mines and mineral projects” and their investment will be secure under the SIFC established in June this year to offer single-window operations to potential investors. Gen Munir promised an investor-friendly system, ensuring ease of doing business and minimizing unnecessary delays.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed optimism that initiatives like the SIFC could turn hope into reality, enabling Pakistan to make its mark in the global economy. He emphasized the importance of transforming the country’s fortunes and attracting international investors for economic prosperity and development.

“We need to build a stronger narrative for a better future and the mineral wealth of Pakistan is a great opportunity for us to make our mark in the global economy. SIFC is an excellent step that can help Pakistan optimize the opportunities for Foreign Direct Investment”, the prime minister said.

Saudi delegation joins summit

A high-profile delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Pakistan to participate in the inaugural summit, driven by the shared vision to explore lucrative investment opportunities in the abundant mining sector.

Led by Saudi Vice Minister for Mining Affairs, Engineer Khalid bin Saleh Al Mudaifer, the delegation also included representatives from Saudi mining companies Ma’aden and Manara Minerals. Saudi Arabia is currently the world’s fourth-largest net importer of mineral products.

Al Mudaifer called for a united effort to harness the full potential of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the region’s mineral sector. Through this collaborative endeavor, he said, the countries can pave the way from dust to development, creating thriving hubs of mineral resources, sustainable economic growth, and development.

Pakistan’s mineral wealth

The country’s geological potential, internationally competitive policies, favorable fiscal and regulatory regimes, and cost-effective labor, has made Pakistan a magnet for investors seeking opportunities in the mineral sector, PM Sharif said. The nation’s mineral wealth is set to play a far more significant role, with a goal of contributing over five percent to the national GDP from its current share of less than one per cent.

Pakistan is rich in resources with extensive mineral reserves sprawled across 600,000 square kilometers. Among the 92 identified minerals, 52 are commercially mined, boasting an impressive annual production capacity of 68.52 MMT, according to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

The Khewra Salt Mines rank as the world’s second-largest salt mine. The Reko Diq mine in Balochistan’s Chagai district holds its own distinction as one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold projects, underscoring the immense potential awaiting exploration.

Speaking at the summit, Barrick Gold Corporation’s President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, revealed the company’s ambitious plan to commence production at the Reko Diq copper-gold project by 2028. Bristow highlighted the significance of the New Reko Diq agreement, marking a milestone in Pakistan’s mining industry development to unlock the sector’s full potential to benefit the country and communities.

Barrick owns 50 per cent of Reko Diq and is set to operate the mine, while the Balochistan province and the federal government each hold a 25 per cent share through state-owned entities.