By Raiq Qureshi
ISLAMABAD, Feb 23 (APP):Marble industry is one of the major industrial elements found abundantly in mountainous regions of Pakistan with different colors and shapes which are not only used in the country but also exported to other countries to earn foreign exchange.
Marble is transported and refined in different small and large scale industries through out the country. The provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have rich marble reserves for local as well as the international markets.
Baluchistan has marble deposits in Loralai, Lesbela and Chahgi districts while Malakand and Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, (KP) province are rich in deposits of grey and camel marble stones.
The marble found in the newly merged districts- Orakzai and Kurram of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in KP, have some of the unique designs making them prominent face of marble industry in the country.
White marble due to its distinguished quality of heat resistance is used in buildings to keep them cooler in hot weather.
Gulf and Middle Eastern States are some of the top international importers of marble from Pakistan. Turkmenistan is globally known as one of the biggest consumers and importers of white marble for construction of buildings from it. Almost all of the buildings are made of marble as the temperature in summer rises there above the normal.
Talking to APP, Mohammad Yaseen a marble refinery owner in Dhera Sanda Pasrur said most of the marble in Punjab came from Baluchistan and KP which is refined in Lahore, Gujranwala and Potohar region.
He said the product was bought in raw form and cut in different shapes and then polished for further sale in local and export markets. Different kinds of marble namely Boti sena, grey and camel marble, abundantly available across the country, were low in cost while the red lined and black gold marble were rare and expensive due to there shine and export demand, he added.
Mohammmad Yousaf Ali, Spokesman and Marketing Manager of Stone world; one of the biggest exporters and marble stakeholders of Pakistan, said Pakistan was still using dynamites for the extraction of marble from mountains which was risky and obsolete method as about forty percent of the raw marble was being wasted in the mining process.
He said in the modern and developed world, the mining of marble was carried out by wire cutting and block cutting and modern extraction machineries saving maximum amount of raw marble and the method was also safe for the labor.
Yousaf Ali said the machinery required for the modern mining being expensive was not easily available to the sectors involved in mining of marble in the industry.
The government and the authorities concerned should focus on making a policy for the provision of safe and better extraction process of the marble, he said adding, it should also provide modern technical instruments to the industry on subsidized rates to enhance potential of the sector, he added.