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PESHAWAR: The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority and Frontier Mine Owners Association organised a joint workshop in Karak to discuss the current scenario and future course of action for the development of gypsum cluster of Kohat division.

The Planning Commission and the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms engaged Smeda under Vision 2025 to undertake a research/feasibility study of ‘Cluster-Based Mineral Sector Transformation Plan’, says a press release issued here on Sunday.

It was stated that the workshop chaired by Abdul Qayyum, member project steering committee, was participated by 25 gypsum mine owners, processors and representatives of various traders’ bodies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Hazrat Ali of Mian Libab Gul & Co, Tauseef of M. Janan Co, Mehmood Shah, Labor President, KP, and Hafizullah, mineral project coordinator, Smeda, were prominent among the participants. The stakeholders discussed the issues faced by gypsum cluster, Kohat, besides the gypsum value chain.

They identified major issues as poor mine access roads, unavailability of loans and heavy machinery to mine lease owners, absence of facilities to mine workers, limited markets for gypsum products, and gas and electricity problems.

The participants said that the government should come up with separate mineral magistrates and the mine lease-holders be given loans from the royalty. They emphasised the need for common machinery pool for the gypsum cluster.

The stakeholders said that the low-priced gypsum products needed the industry to be established in close proximity of mine areas. They said the government should ensure separate grid station and gas connections to the producers.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2018