PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has directed the authorities concerned to work out modalities for declaring mines and minerals sector an industry in the province.

Declaring the sector an industry will not only attract national and international investors but will also help in the value addition of the minerals found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to a statement issued here on Monday.

Chairing a meeting of Minerals Investment Facilitation Authority (MIFA), the chief minister, who also holds the portfolio of mines and minerals department, formally approved 24 mining leases. Minerals Titles Committee (MTC) has already approved the leases under joint ventures on net profit sharing as per Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mines and Minerals Act, 2017.

The meeting was informed regarding the enhanced benefits of joint ventures including more generation of revenue in lieu of fees, greater investor confidence, industrial development and creation of jobs.

Mahmood Khan also approves 24 mining leases

The chief minister directed the officials to take steps to ensure that merit and transparency were upheld in addition to forming a criterion in the award of leases to ensure that minerals mined in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received value addition within the province instead of exporting them elsewhere.

He ordered the relevant authorities to work out a mechanism within the next couple of months for the establishment of specific zones for refining minerals to ensure maximum generation of revenue.

The chief minister also directed them take steps for certification of the minerals within the province that would not only attract investors but would also be helpful in value addition of minerals.

He ordered the officials concerned to complete establishment of eco-friendly crushing zones by the end of the ongoing month. He said that stern action would be taken against the illegal mining and smuggling of minerals.

The meeting was informed that the entire business of the department was digitised whereas more than 21,000 employment opportunities were created so far. It was informed that the draft of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minerals Policy, 2022, was prepared and mineral auction rules were also vetted by the law department.

Besides introducing legislative reforms, the government conducted more than 15,000 inspections during the last four years, lodged thousands of FIRs against illegal mining, suspended more than 1,000 mines leases temporarily and closed 322 mines permanently owing to insufficient safety measures.

The meeting was told that upgradation of mineral testing laboratory and second phase of mining cadastral project were in progress. It was informed that Rs130 million was disbursed as scholarships among the children of labourers and Rs43 million among disabled workers whereas Rs22 million was allocated for workers having occupational pulmonary diseases.

The participants of the meeting were told that Rs8.7 million was provided to workers suffering from pulmonary diseases whereas Rs12.50 million was allocated for skill development programme for the children of labourers.

The department has cancelled 50 idle mineral titles including 13 cement factories in the province. Adviser to Chief Minister on Minerals Arif Ahmadzai, Chief Secretary Dr Shehzad Bangash, Additional Chief Secretary Shahab Ali Shah, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Amjad Ali Khan, Minerals Secretary Hamayun Khan and other high rank officials attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2022

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