Islamabad, November 17,2023 (PAKONOMY): In a region rich with untapped potential, Balochistan, the southwestern province of Pakistan, boasts vast reserves of magnesium that, despite their abundance, remain significantly underexploited. Magnesium, primarily sourced from magnesium carbonate, is a valuable mineral with diverse applications. This article delves into the potential of Balochistan’s magnesium reserves, shedding light on their current status, economic implications, and the opportunities that lie within.
Balochistan holds the 11th largest magnesite reserves globally, concentrated in areas such as Khuzdar and Muslim Bagh, as well as in select regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The estimated reserves exceed 12 million metric tons, positioning Pakistan as a significant player in the magnesium market.
Despite the abundance of magnesium reserves, Pakistan predominantly exports its extracted magnesite, amounting to around 31,856 metric tons, generating $1.6 million in revenue. The lack of calcination facilities poses a challenge, leading to the export of raw magnesite. However, only a few firms are producing low-grade calcined magnesia domestically. Additionally, the country imports 2003 metric tons of magnesia, costing approximately $1.4 million, to meet domestic industry demands.
As of 2021, the global market volume of magnesium oxide reached approximately 13.4 million metric tons, with forecasts predicting growth to around 19.6 million metric tons by 2029. China has traditionally dominated the magnesium oxide market. The versatility of magnesium oxide nanoparticles in various industries, including electronics, catalysis, ceramics, and petrochemical products, contributes to its increasing demand.
Zia Rind, Director of the Magnesium Wing at Balochistan Mineral Department, highlights the challenges faced by the magnesium mining sector. The informal nature of magnesium mining and the lack of benefit to the domestic industry underscore the need for formalization. Formalizing the sector could bring financial benefits, encourage financial inclusion, secure budget allocations, and attract investments.
In conclusion, the magnesium reserves in Balochistan present a hidden economic opportunity for Pakistan. Formalizing the sector, addressing production challenges, and strategically entering the global market can unlock the full potential of this valuable resource.