A MAGNIFICENT MARBLE FUTURE
Marble is among the top sources of income among natural stones. Along with granite, marble leads the list of Pakistan’s economically viable stone deposits. Despite various problems like power shortages and the worsening law and order situation, Pakistan has achieved high exports of marble with an increase of 72.34 percent during 2010 and 2011.
According to statistics of the All Pakistan Marble Mining Processing Industry and Exporters Association (APMMPIEA) for financial year 2011, the country achieved record exports of $60.620 million as compared to $35.178 million during the corresponding period in fiscal 2010 with an increase of $25.442 million. The mining and quarry sector contributes nearly 0.6 percent to Pakistan’s GDP with an estimated value addition of more than Rs. 16.5 billion.
Besides huge exports to China, Pakistan exports marble and granite to almost 52 countries, including the UAE, UK, India, China, Italy, USA and Malaysia. According to industry sources, Pakistan could earn a huge amount at the current market rate of $1,300 per cubic metric tonne, if the issues related to the sector were reliably addressed. The annual average exports of marble and granite mostly in the form of blocks and boulders has been around $22 million between 2005 and 2008. During 2008-09 some square blocks were also exported which created an increase of $35 million. The current boost in export value was achieved through the inclusion of many small exporters and industrialists in the sector who started exporting raw material to China and Gulf countries adding to the overall level of marble exports.
The global demand for Pakistani marble, considered among some of the best qualities in the world, is increasing. New city projects in Saudi Arabia offer great potential for export of Pakistani marble on a large scale. Saudi Arabia also has plans for erecting the world’s tallest building (up to 1000m) while close to 300 civil construction projects are already either in progress or at design stage across Saudi Arabia. This could spell good prospects for export of Pakistani marble.
On export potential to China, Sanaullah Khan, Chairman, All Pakistan Marble Mining, Processing, Industry and Exporters Association (APMMPIEA) says, “We have identified that the duty and tax structure on import of semi-processed and unfinished materials in China is considerably high then that on raw products, thus encouraging the import of only raw materials.” Khan stresses that if the duty structure were changed in China, importers there could start demanding processed products from Pakistan. Semi-processed marble, granite and onyx products if placed on the FTA with China would help the local industry to expand activities and also generate comparatively better revenue while taking the industry towards value addition.
There is an increasing need for frequent visits of business delegations to China to explore market potential of marble and other stones from Pakistan. The APMMPIEA has invited Chinese importers and buyers to establish joint ventures for enhancing trade ties in the marble sector.
According to the Ministry for Production, the government is committed to develop the marble and granite sector as the country’s dimensional stone industry. Sanaullah Khan suggests that in order to achieve the set export goals, the government should depute persons as trade commissioners at Pakistani foreign missions, people who are well, versed in the country’s marble export potential.
Australia A$ 6 Bangladesh Taka 65 Bhutan NU 45 Burma KK a10 Canada C$ 6 China RMB 30 France Fr 30 Hong Kong HK$ 30 India Rs. 65 Japan ¥ 500 Korea Won 3000 Malaysia RM 6 Maldives Rf 45 Nepal Ncrs. 75 New Zealand NZ$ 7 Pakistan Rs. 100 Philippines P 75 Saudi Arabia SR 15 Singapore S$ 8 Sri Lanka Rs. 100 Thailand B 100 UAE AED 10 UK £3 USA $ 4.99
The word Marble comes from the Greek word Mamaros, meaning shining stone. Marble is a non- foliated, granular metamorphic rock that is formed by the metamorphism of limestone and dolostone. Marble is basically Calcium Carbonate ( CACO3). The term marble is also applied to serpentine rocks that can be polished to high shine.
Marble, Onyx and Granite belong to the category of building stones widely known as Dimension Stone. These are natural stones which can be shaped in the form of blocks, slabs, tiles, etc. and are mostly used for monumental and decorative purposes. Since antiquity, various civilizations have used dimension stone in many ancient buildings and monuments that have survived to the present day. Numerous varieties of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks are used as dimension stone but the principal rock types are granite, limestone, marble, sandstone and slate.
Major deposits of high quality dimension stone available in a wide range of colours, shades and patterns in Pakistan have not been exploited so far due to lack of modern quarrying and manufacturing facilities which has hindered the development of marble and granite sectors. Marble working was declared an industry over a decade ago. Continuing efforts of the federal and provincial governments and other stakeholders such as the Pakistan Stone Development Company ( PASDEC) have initiated many projects to uplift the marble and granite sector. These projects have been set up as per international practices. They employ modern technology and are based on detailed technical studies. There is a plan to create about 10 model quarries and a number of marble cities in Pakistan. These projects are expected to add great value to Pakistan’s dimension sector.