Pakistan on Wednesday said it has discovered major reserves of iron ore as well as copper, silver and gold in Punjab province.
The Metallurgical Cooperation of China found the reserves in Chiniot city. A senior provincial administrative official said that initial estimates indicated 500 million tons of iron ore—a primary ingredient in steelmaking—had been discovered. He said the Chinese company has expressed interest in setting up a steel mill on the site, adding that the extracted iron had been tested in Swiss and Canadian laboratories, which found 60-65 percent of it to be high grade. The official added that silver, copper and gold samples would also be sent for testing soon.
Speaking at the site on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the discovery could help Pakistan’s stuttering economy turn a corner and end its “begging bowl” culture. “It is Allah’s blessing that under the lush green fields rich deposits of copper, iron and gold have been found, which will help the country get rid of the ‘begging bowl’ for good,” Sharif said.
Conflict, instability, corruption and a chronic energy shortage have hampered Pakistan’s economy for years. The IMF granted a $6.6-billion loan to Pakistan in September 2013 on the condition that it carry out extensive economic reforms, particularly in the energy and taxation sectors.