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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.

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