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ISLAMABAD: The Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has urged Federal Government to tap Hajigak’s mines of Afghanistan’s iron ore for revival of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

In a letter to Minister for Industries and Production, Khusro Bakhtiyar, President FPCCI Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo urged the GoP to engage in the much-needed commissioning of the detailed feasibility study to be conducted to assess the cost-effective and long-term iron ore supplies potential for Pakistan’s steel industry; which is bound to expand at a rapid pace given its increasing home consumption of steel.

He said Pakistan could greatly benefit from the next-door supplies for the decades to come and, prima-facie, it would be a multi-billion dollars, geo-economic prospect to be cost competitive.

According to FPCCI, no other country enjoys the land-based route as shortest as Pakistan - as Hajigak and Peshawar are only 400 kilometres apart, which substantially adds to its geo-economically rewarding value and will help to upkeep Pakistan’s economic security.

Maggo is of the view that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for low-cost affordable housing for every household, coupled with skyrocketing steel prices, warrants an immediate need to secure iron ore supplies for the country from Afghanistan for the PSM and future expansion of steel industry.

Iron ore from Afghanistan will change the cost matrix of locally-manufactured steel; which has remained dependent on higher logistic costs than the material themselves while importing from countries namely Australia, Canada, South Africa etc.

FPCCI has recommended that Pakistan should take the lead and sign an MoU with the Afghan government; before any other regional or sub-regional country gets the first-mover’s-advantage to explore the iron ore reserves on a large-scale. The mines may contain up to 2,100 million metric tons and more of high-grade (61-69%) iron ore and reportedly translates into $450 billion in today’s market. This effectively makes Hajigak Mines the largest in Asia and makes Afghanistan one of the top-ten countries in terms of iron reserves.

Maggo maintained that this long-term mining and import arrangement with Afghanistan would be a win-win mechanism for Pakistan and Afghanistan as it would create a sustainable stream of income for the resource-restrained brotherly neighbour and create thousands of jobs there. Furthermore, tapping Hajigak’s iron at a competitive price may soon be proven to be a lease of life for the dysfunctional PSM and expansion of steel industry in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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