Blessed with a variety of rare and precious marble and mineral resources, Pakistan stands out as a unique country, which offers immense opportunities for domestic and international investors to earn maximum returns on their investments in this vital sector in the wake of multibillion dollars CPEC investment. Pakistan’s western belt including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, erstwhile FATA and Balochistan besides major areas of Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, parts of Sindh and Punjab have plenty of marble deposits including Granite, Chromite, Dolomite, Manganese, Nephrite, Feldspar, Ziyarat, Limestones, Silica Sand, Quartz, Coal and Emerald. This huge variety of marble is a great opportunities for investors to explore in the pursuit of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government investor friendly economic and industrial policies which give upward boost to industrialization, SMEs, trade and mineral sectors despite COVID-19 pandemic. Entire erstwhile FATA especially Bajaur, Khyber and Mohmand, KP’s Malakand division mostly Buner, Shangla and Swat districts and Khuzdar, Loralai, Mastung, Dal Badin and other western districts of Balochistan bordering with Afghanistan, are naturally rich in world class marble, granite and others mineral resources and investment in this profit-oriented sector would help create employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people besides taking the country’s industrial and economic growth to a new heights. Muhammad Bilal, Manager Marketing and Planning, Pakistan Stones Devolopment Company (PASDEC), Ministry of Industries and Production, Islamabad told APP that western belt of Pakistan including Khaber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan exclusively was naturally blessed with marble reserviors where about 2,000 processing units and 1,200 marble and mines quarries were producing quality marble on small and large scale besides providing direct and indirect employment to over 200,000 labourers and other work force. He said over 70pc marble quarries and processing units existed in KP mostly in Bajaur, Mohmand, Swat, Buner and Shangla districts to cater the pressing demands of the growing construction industry. Peshawar is a hub of precious Ziyarat, he said adding, a variety of marble is being exported to these places. It was transported mostly from Mohmand district where hundreds of marble shops were opened on Warsak Road and Interior City, attracting domestic and international investors besides providing jobs to over 50,000 people. “Definitely, the demand of marble tiles will grow upward in all provinces of Pakistan in line with PM Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP) and CPEC projects and we need to quickly shift our approach towards mechanized mining to cater the growing demands of construction industry”, Bilal said. International investors were considering Pakistan as a future hub for trade and industrialization after the start of full fledged operation of Gwadar seaport, completion of ML-I, Khyber Pass Communication Corridor from Peshawar to Torkham Pak-Afghan border and Rashakai Special Economic Zone at Nowshera. Bilal said, “our marble tiles were being preferred in most international markets including China, EU, Central Asian Republic (CARs), Middle East, Afghanistan, US, SAARC and other countries due to its durability, shiness and designs.” “The demand for Ziyarat marble of Mohmand district has increased manifolds due to an upward boom in construction industry in the last few years, forcing contractors to hire additional minors to meet the demanding orders of people and real estates despite COVID 19”, he informed. KP Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BOI) statistics revealed that over 845 million tons (MT) of high quality marble deposits exist in super white, grey, and silky colours including 537MT Silica Sand, 11MT Dolomite, 1.8 MT Manganese, one MT Chromite in Mohmand district that awaiting investors. Faud Ishaq, former President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) said marble sector was a leading contributor in Gross Domestic Product and its role in the country’s economic growth could not be overlooked. “Most processing units are preparing marble by using local manmade cutting machines, which are consuming high electricity, resulting in an increase in production cost and shortfall in its productivity.” A substantial quantity of precious marble worth millions of rupees was being wasted and became out of shape due to blasting every year and government patronage was required to facilitate mechanized mining to avoid waste of the precious resource and loss of revenue, he said. Faud Ishaq said most modern SEZs in developed countries employ advanced technologies like robots, artificial intelligence, 3D printing. “Special courses in our polytechnic educational institutes may be introduced for training of students to take full advantage of CPEC projects,he added.