Gemstones: A hidden treasure awaits explorers

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Gemstones: A hidden treasure awaits explorers

By Muhammad Aslam

ISLAMABAD, July 10 (APP): The nature has bestowed Pakistan  with a vast potential of mineral ores including a good range of  precious and glittering gemstones, which need appropriate attention  of the government, especially investors to exploit them.

Different varieties of minerals like Peridot, Aquamarine, Topaz in different colours of violet, pink, golden and champagne,Ruby, Emerald, rare-earth minerals Bastnaesite and Xenotime, Sphene, Tourmaline, besides many types of Quartz make the country prominent in the mineral world.

The northern and northwestern parts of the country are shrouded by three world-famous mountain ranges called Hindukush, Himalaya, and Karakorum, from where nearly all the minerals, which Pakistan is currently offering to the world market, have been found so far.

Although the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is consistently offering investment opportunities in the mineral sector
but it could not make significant progress due to one reason or
the other.

Official sources told APP that out of 25 precious, semi precious stones and mineral specimens, seven were intermittently exploited and marketed all over the world.

“These are Emerald of Swat, Rubies of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
(AJK) and Hunza-Ishkoman, Gilgit, Pink-Topaz of Katlang-Mardan,
Aquamarine and Tourmaline of Gilgit and Chitral, Peridot of Kohistan
and Pargasite of Hunza, ” they said adding that all these gems have
beautiful attractive colours, excellent crystal clarity and a range
of size as well as weight, meeting any international standard.

Inviting investors, they said tremendous potential existed for investment in the subject of scientific mining, cutting and
polishing for value addition of gemstone from the known localities
and exploration for further findings.

Highlighting specifications of the Ruby of Kashmir, Hunza and
Gilgit, the sources informed that it was transparent to translucent
and brownish pink to pinkish-red and deep red in colour.

“The deposit is being mined and the potential resources are estimated at about 24.9 million grams, ” they added.

The Ruby of Hunza and Gilgit have a slight touch of pinkish hue.

The main ruby deposits occur in a dolomitic marble belt spanning over 100 kilometers from Hunza valley to Ishkoman, close to the main Karakorum thrust.

While Topaz of Mardan and Dassu-Skardu, pink to red and colourless, have their own attraction for the jewel-lovers. The best known deposits of Emerald are located at Mingora, Malakand Division, 160 kilomters northeast of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The Swat deposits are producing excellent quality gems, which are considered some of the finest emeralds in the world. The stones
have become famous for their brilliance, medium to deep green colour
and unique transparency,” the source informed and added that in
the belt emeralds had been discovered at Gujar Kili and Shamozai
areas.

They said gem quality tourmaline was found in the Kohistan
magmatic arc Zone-6 at Haraosh near Gilgit, Stak Nala between
Gilgit and Skardu, Bulecli and Shingus in Gilgit division and
Garm Chashma in Chitral.

Tourmaline at Haraosh is discovered in pink, blue, and green
varieties, whereas the Stak Nala is now famous for bicolour and
tricolour tourmaline.

Gem grade tourmaline also occurs at Buleclhi and Shingus,
Gilgit, they said adding that Indicolite (blue tourmaline) was found
in pegmatite of Garm Chashma (Chitral). Green tourmaline has also
been found in pegmatites of Donga Nar in Azad Kashmir.

“Peridot of Indus Kohistan is one of the most beautiful gemstones of Pakistan and is sporadically being mined at different localities.

It has already captured market both locally and abroad,” the sources remarked.

Despite the presence of concerned bodies including Trade  Development Authority of Pakistan, All Pakistan Commercial Exporter Association and Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, besides  holding of regular gems and stones exhibitions at different level,  no significant development is taking place to tap the exploited  potential in the gemstone sector.

There is the need, on part of the government, of conducting  surveys in the potential areas in collaboration with reputable  institutes to attract foreign investors in this sector, which  can significantly contribute to the national kitty.

According to a report, mostly non-professional residents of  mining areas are actually the ones who mine these jewels of earth  in their hazardous and traditional way of mining.

They usually form groups that initiate diggings and blastings  in precious and semi-precious stones potential areas, damaging the
quality and quantity of the jewels.

Pakistan, based on its potential in mineral wealth, has the  great potential to become a hub of the gemstone industry, on a  scale comparable to that of Brazil, by taking a few essential steps to enhance the exploration of resources and growth of  gemstone business.