Value addition in zinc can bring economic dividends

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan can gain more economic benefits by adding value to raw extracts of zinc, WealthPK reported.
“Rather than supplying or exporting zinc directly to other countries or local companies, the government should plan to install processing plants near mines where it can be processed to prepare powder, ingots or sheets after extraction,” Taj Muhammad, Geologist from Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC,) stated in an interview with WealthPK.
In Pakistan, main reserves of zinc are found in the areas of Lasbella and Khuzdar in Balochistan province. Known reserves are about 23 million tons, while fair chances exist that many other reserves may be traced from other areas.
It is estimated that about 1.5 million tons of zinc can be mined from the areas of Bisham and Kohistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as well.
Taj Muhammad said zinc is mostly used to galvanize other metals to prevent rusting/corrosion. The galvanised steel is used to manufacture automobile bodies, street lamp posts, and safety barriers etc.
It is also used in alloys e.g., aluminium solder, nickel silver, brass etc. Industrially, it is used to produce paints, rubber, cosmetics, plastics, inks, pharmaceutical products, batteries, textile materials, electrical equipment, zinc oxide and other household fixtures etc. It is also an important part of human body and its traces occur in many foods i.e., peanuts, beef, oysters. As a plant nutrient, its fertilizer nourishes crops for better yield.
Refined zinc metal is bluish white in colour, hard and brittle against multiple temperature levels and keeps relatively low boiling/melting points. Being chemically active, it readily alloys with other metals and in air exposure develops a film (patina) to prevent corrosion.
“Its marketing to multiple industrial sectors in the form of finished material or ready to use shape is more profitable. These types of strategical steps will prove helpful for sustainable livelihood of local people who depend on mining as a major source of earning,” Taj Muhammad said.
Former General Manager and Geologist of PMDC Javed Anwar told WealthPK that Pakistan is generously blessed with Zinc deposits.
“Duddar mine in Lasbella, Balochistan is the largest zinc and lead mine. The zinc deposits found here are totally under the ground. It is operationalised by the co-work of the MCC Huaye, Duddar (MHD) Mining Company.
It is a joint project of Balochistan government, Chinese co-organisations and PMDC. China Metallurgical Group Corporation invested in the development process, while Huaye Group Co. Ltd. is responsible for other operations. In this project 74% profit sharing is decided for Chinese co-organizations, while the other 26% is for PMDC and the Balochistan government. The provincial government is also getting royalty as an additional benefit. So, Duddar mine is not only productive, but profitable as well. It is also a source for a sustainable livelihood for the local people.
Zinc is also found in other places in Pakistan. But it is important to start quarry. Mainly it is produced from three types of deposits i.e., volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS), Mississippi valley type (MVT), and sedimentary exhalative (SEDEX).
“Zinc is currently the fourth widely used metal. It is used both as an alloy and anti-corrosive agent. Its demand in multiple industrial sectors cannot be denied.
If the Government of Pakistan launches serious quarries about it, a sustainable livelihood for miners, good revenue generation for government and a handsome foreign exchange can be obtained by its export,” said Javed Anwar. – INP