Obstacles in the sustainable development of artisanal and small-scale mines in Pakistan and remedial measures
Viqar Husain, 2005. "Obstacles in the sustainable development of artisanal and small-scale mines in Pakistan and remedial measures", Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World, B. R. Marker, M. G. Petterson, F. McEvoy, M. H. Stephenson
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Pakistan is a large country with diverse geology and geography. It possesses many industrial rocks and minerals, including precious stones, marble and granite. Some metallic mineral deposits, and large reserves of coal/lignite, oil and natural gas also occur. Pakistan’s mining industry is dominated by thousands of artisanal and small-scale mines, which lack capital, technical know how, modern equipment and trained manpower. Further, local mining practices cause much damage to mineral deposits and are very hazardous to the health of mine workers and the environment. The mining sector is backward due to lack of political will and pragmatic mining laws, and absence of technical and financial support by the government agencies to the small mining units. Moreover, the narrow base of the domestic mineral industry leads to poor demand in the local market and low mineral production. Additionally, the lack of infrastructure and the poor law and order situation adversely affect the mineral industry. Further, mineral-rich districts of the country are socio-economically backward due to hilly terrain or arid climate and, hence, less suitable for agriculture. Sustainable development of artisanal and small-scale mines is possible if the necessary legal, technological, financial, commercial, social and environmental support is provided on a long-term basis.
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Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World
The sustainable development of minerals, which are non-renewable resources, is a major challenge in today’s world. In this regard the true definition of sustainability’ is a debating point in itself: can such a concept exist with respect to non-renewable resources? Perhaps the ideal sustainability model is one that minimizes negative environmental impact and maximizes benefits to society, the economy and regional/national development. Developed and near-developed economies rely for commodity supplies on developing countries where major mining operations are often a mainstay of the domestic economy. Limited environmental regulation and low wages lead to charges of exploitation. Also, large numbers of people have no alternative to living by informal, often dangerous, ‘artisanal’ mining. This Special Publication gives examples from developing countries at all scales of mineral extraction. The volume reviews environmental, economic, health and social problems and highlights the need to solve these before sustainability can be achieved. The better solutions require mutual understanding, through full involvement of all stakeholders, education, training and investment so that small-scale ansd artisinal mines can grow into well-managed operations. At larger scales, most major interantional mining companies have now inoproved their practices and are monitoring their progress, although there is no room for complacency in this rapidly changing area.