Yaqoob Shah, Director FATA Mineral, told this reporter that the environment of FATA is suitable for all kinds of minerals adding that huge reservoirs of oil and natural gas have been explored in Khyber agency, North andSouth Waziristan agencies, Kohat, Peshawar and Bannu.
He said that these reservoirs could be found two kilometers deep inside the earth, adding, that the mineral production from FATA has reached up to 2.4 million tones in the year 2005-06.
He said that Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC) would start drilling in these areas for the exploration of oil and gas reservoirs. He said the foreign oil company, Tullow, has obtained a license for the exploration of the reservoirs of oil and gas in the North Waziristan Agency and Bannu while the oil company ofIreland, MOL, has shown interest in the Khyber agency, Kohat and Peshawar regions.
Yaqoob Shah disclosed that 800 gram per ton reserves of copper has been explored in the tribal areas adding that there are 90 percent chances of the presence of gold in the area; however, he said that no work has been started yet towards that end.
He said that the price of copper in the international market is Rs 7000 per ton adding that the copper export can help earn millions of rupees revenue for the country.
He said thatChina is the biggest market of copper in the world and according to the experts 2007 can be called the year of copper.
The Director FATA Mineral said that vast reservoirs of marble have been located in the tribal belt.
He said that 80 percent of marble is wasted due to the blasting method in these mines and added that FATA Mineral Directorate is taking measures for installation of Block Cutting Machinery in the mines of marble so as to stop the wastage of this precious asset of the country.
He said that exploration and excavation of minerals would usher in a new era of development and prosperity in the tribal areas and would generate new job opportunities.
He informed that Rs. 178.537 million have been earned as revenue from the mineral production of FATA in the last ten years. He added that Rs. 250 million have been earmarked in 2006-07 ADP out of which Rs.86 million would be spent on the ongoing schemes of the mineral sector whereas Rs.164 million will be utilised for the six new schemes.
For the first time in the history of the country, Mine Rescue Safety and Labour Welfare Station in Orakzai Agency have already been established for the safety of the miners.
Similarly, geochemical studies are in hand for establishment of a model quarry for marble in Mohmand Agency for exploitation of marble deposits on scientific methods.
The number of ongoing activities in the mineral sector is 11 and includes strengthening of minerals directorate, exploration & Evaluation of precious stones in Mohmand and Bajaur agencies, investigation and evaluation of Manganese in Bajaur agency, model quarry for marble in Mohmand agency, development of soapstone in Kurram agency, construction of shingle road in Mohmand agency, construction of 20 KMs shingle road in mineral bearing area in Kurram agency, Mines/Rescue/Safety and Labour Welfare Station Bowa Orakzai agency, construction of shingle roads in mineral bearing areas of Orakzai agency, development of coal in Orakzai agency and construction of five kilometre shingle roads in mineral bearing areas of S.W. Agency.
The fresh schemes, he said includes development of infrastructure in mineral bearing areas in FATA, source rock mapping and investigators for hydrocarbon potential in FATA, establishment of mini marble city in Mohmand agency, feasibility study for coal briquetting in Orakzai agency, exploration/estimation & exploitation of coal reserves in tribal areas and exploration and development of copper in North Waziristan Agency.
Copper exists mostly in Mohmand agency,North Waziristan and South Waziristan agencies and its total deposits are estimated at 35 million tones. Marble is found in Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber Agencies with total reserves of 7000 million tones.
Similarly, proven reserves of Chromite are mostly found in Bajaur, Mohmand andNorth Waziristan agencies. Likewise, the deposits of Soapstone are mostly found in Kurram agency and have been estimated at 3.6 million tones.
Coal reserves gauged at eight million tones have been explored in Orakzai and Kurram agencies whereas 20.000 million tones reserves of Gypsum are present in Dera Ismail Khan.
The inexhaustible reserves of Limestone have been discovered in Kohat,Peshawar ad Dera Ismail Khan while reserves of Manganese have been found in North Waziristan and Bajaur agencies. Moreover, the estimated reserves of Dolomite, Quartz and Silica Sand have been discovered in Mohmand agency.