ISLAMABAD :  Around 226 exploration licenses and mining leases have been granted to private companies and investors for various minerals in Malakand Division.  The Minerals Development Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa granted these permissions which also included nine prospecting licenses and eight mining leases for granite. Sources at Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources on Sunday said that duration of prospecting and exploration licenses is spread over 2-5 years and 3-9 years respectively.

   Some mining companies and lease holders are at advanced stage of mining and processing.

   These companies have generated economic activities in the far-flung areas of the country by providing jobs to hundreds of locals besides earning considerable foreign exchange. The Malakand Division has known potential of various minerals like Granite, Marble, Limestone, Dolomite, Soapstone, Slate Stone, Emerald, Chromite & Iron Ore etc. Moreover, the federal organizations have also been working within their domain to facilitate and promote mineral sector.

   Geological Survey of Pakistan has already published geological maps for Malakand Division while Pakistan Stone Development Company (PASDEC) is working for value-addition in marble and granite (dimension stones) sector by introducing mechanized working on international lines. The sources said under a Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) scheme, this company has already implemented Model Quarry projects for marble in Bampokha (Buner) and Chitral areas and Marble Quarry upgradations at Torwarsak and Salarzai (Buner).  They said another Model Quarry upgradation project has been allocated for Shangla area.