Web Desk — Pakistan’s resource-rich Baluchistan province wants Chinese companies to kick-start a boom in its mining industry by including the sector into Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative, a senior provincial mining official said as per Reuters.
Beijing has pledged $57 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship “Belt and Road” project that first focused on Chinese firms building roads and power stations but is now expanding to include setting up industries.
Pakistan’s resource-rich Baluchistan province wants Chinese companies to kick-start a boom in its mining industry https://t.co/92lzow3agl
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Mineral extraction is a deeply contentious issue in Baluchistan, where many indigenous people are angry that the province remains Pakistan’s poorest despite its vast mineral wealth.
Much of the province’s population is suspicious of both foreign companies and the central government in Islamabad, while separatist groups cite exploitation of mineral wealth by outsiders as one of their main reasons for waging war.
Baluchistan has a significant natural gas industry but large-scale mining has failed to take off.
Foreign firms have been put off by security fears and a high-profile litigation case with Canada’s Barrick Gold and Chile’s Antofagasta over Reko Diq, one of the world’s biggest undeveloped gold and copper mines, in the province.
Saleh Muhammad Baloch, the province’s top mining official, said the plan is for Chinese companies chosen by Beijing to team up with local firms to mine marble, chromite, limestone, coal and other minerals, and set up steel mills and other plants.
“They will come as partners and technically support us,” Baloch, who is the province’s secretary for mines, told Reuters in the provincial capital of Quetta this week.
Baloch said the province wanted the projects to be set up close to the source of raw materials and near the new CPEC roads that will connect western China with Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, in Baluchistan.
A profit-sharing formula will also be negotiated.