Mianwali Steel Mill
A PATRIOTIC APPEAL
TO THE CONCERNED AUTHORITIES AND THE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE
Captain (R) Engr. M. Akram Niazi
of Steel Sector in the Past: Detrimental To Employment Opportunities and
Foreign Exchange Savings
to ignorance or lack of interest on the part of decision makers and
elected representatives, feasible Kalabagh Steel Mill project based on
local iron ore was not commenced in 1956 and again in 1967, and Nokkundi
iron ore project in 1972. However, Pak Steel Mill based on imported iron
ore was established at Karachi in 1985. Pakistan may be the only poor
country in the world to adopt a comparatively outdated machinery and
technology for which iron ore had to be imported from far away countries
like Brazil and Australia. Consequently, the nation lost over 20 years of
steel making till 1985, thousands of Pakistanis are deprived of jobs for
mining and transporting millions of tonnes of local iron ore, and hard
earned foreign exchange is being spent on imports which is contributing
towards socio-economic uplift of the people of other countries.
relevant facts are summarized in the succeeding paragraphs to apprise the
worthy readers of the urgency of improving working efficiency of Pak Steel
Mill instead of its expansion, utilization of local iron ores found at
various locations, and establishing state-of-the-art mini- steel mills
near iron ore deposits, instead of depending only on one iron ore
import-based steel mill with an outdated machinery which is meeting only
about 25% of our annual steel requirements.
1956, M/S Krupp of Germany offered to set up a steel mill based on
Kalabagh iron ore, coal and most other minerals available within about 11
miles. Reportedly, the concerned minister from a steel-importing family
managed to shelve this project and, in protest, the illustrious Chairman
of PIDC, Mr. Ghulam Farooq, resigned.
June 1966, another German company M/S Salzgitter produced in Germany 5,000
tonnes of quality steel from 15,000 tonnes of Kalabagh iron ore in the
presence of some international experts, and sold it to Volkswagon. The
company offered in August 1967 to set up Kalabagh Steel Mill of over 0.8
million tonnes per year (mtpy) capacity based on Kalabagh iron ore and
imported coal at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.542 billion (including foreign
exchange cost of Rs. 878 million). Some European banks offered loans for
this project, which confirms technical and financial viability of the
project. PIDC selected a site with about 80% raw materials available
within 11 miles. Unfortunately, this offer was also shelved.
1972, Chinese experts found a substantial quantity of iron ore in Nokkundi
area of Balochistan. Steel experts from America and Japan confirmed its
suitability for steel production and recommended to set up a mini-steel
mill in Balochistan. Later on, this ore was found suitable for Pak Steel
Mill after upgradation. “The News” of January 31, 1999 confirmed that
offers from China and Iran for a mini-steel mill in Balochistan were under
consideration of the government.
April 1968, our President General M. Ayub Khan accepted the Russian offer
for Kalabagh Steel Mill project, and the next President General Yahya Khan
signed the project agreement with Russia. Subsequently, it transpired that
Russia did not have the technology to produce steel from the Kalabagh iron
ore. Instead of reviving the German offers based on local raw materials,
site of the steel mill project was shifted to Karachi and Pak Steel Mill
was established with a comparatively inferior machinery, based on imported
iron ore and coal.
of Pak Steel Mill was commenced at an estimated cost of Rs. 14.287 billion
and commissioned at a cost of Rs. 24.7 billion in 1985, with an installed
production capacity of 1.1 million tonnes per year (mtpy).On the average,
about 70% to 80% of installed production capacity of 1.1 mtpy has been
utilized during the last 17 years. The installed machinery is generally
blamed for this inefficiency. For comparison, a Brazilian Steel Mill set
up in 1956 with Japanese machinery and technology was producing 4.3
million tonnes steel annually with 13,000 employees
November 4, 1991), whereas the Pak Steel Mill commissioned in 1985
produced about 0.75 million tonnes steel in 1991 with 28,000 employees
including 4,000 temporary. Public Accounts Committee (PAC) announced in
March 2002 over Rs. 10 billion loss of Pak Steel Mill (The News, March 22,
2002). Chairman of the Pak Steel Mills Corporation confirmed payable loan
of Rs. 19.117 billion (The News, November 5, 2002). It is not clear
whether the PAC also considered Rs. 24.7 billion initial investment,
government grants from time to time, loans converted into equity of the
public sector banks and the government (for paying the bank interest)
because of inability of Pak Steel Mill to pay even the bank interest. In
brief, technical and financial performance of Pak Steel Mill since 1985
does not prove its viability, rather a perpetual financial burden on this
poor nation. Instead of special efforts to achieve sustained utilization
of the 1.1 mtpy installed capacity and proving financial viability of Pak
Steel Mill, its expansion to 3.0 mtpy at an estimated cost of US $ 1 to 2
billion (as reported in the press on different dates) is under serious
consideration since 1994.
Steel Mills Corporation under a Chairman was established to develop steel
sector on all-Pakistan basis, and Kalabagh and Nokkundi Steel Mill
projects were transferred from the PIDC to the Corporation for necessary
action. Practically, the successive Chairmen concentrated only on the
Pakistan Steel Mill, which, in fact, was the responsibility of its
Managing Director. Worthy Chairman should be able to clarify the reasons
for ignoring development of steel sector, including the confirmed feasible
projects, in other provinces of Pakistan.
to “The Muslim” of July 29, 1996, an Italian “Danieli & Co.”
signed a contract with Philippines F. Jacinto Group of Companies to set up
a state-of-the-art 1.2 mtpy Steel Mill (including supply, installation and
commissioning) at an estimated cost of US $ 600 million. A smaller steel
mill of about 0.8 mtpy capacity should cost much less. It suggests in
favour of setting up modern mini-mills based on local iron ores in Punjab,
NWFP, and Balochistan conforming to the recent years’ preference for
state-of-the-art mini-mills which are more cost-effective and easier to
modernize when required as compared to modernization of the old large
steel mills with an out-dated technology and worn-out machinery, vide
“Newsweek” of February 24, 1992 and “The News International” of
April 6, 1991.
view of the above, it may be desirable to constitute a Parliamentary
Committee, comprised of representatives from all the provinces, to
consider ways and means to develop steel sector based on local iron ores,
with the assistance of foreign, federal and provincial experts. To achieve
the desired objective, the committee may please consider the following
A seminar may be held to examine various local iron ores suitable
for steel production.
Pak Steel Mill should achieve sustained utilization of its 1.1 mtpy
installed production capacity and prove its financial viability to justify
consideration of its expansion.
Pak Steel Mill should develop a suitable technology, in
collaboration with the PCSIR and other research laboratories, to utilize
local iron ore and coal.
State-of-the-art mini-mills based on local iron ores may be
considered for Punjab, NWFP, and Balochistan to meet about 75% of our
steel requirements now being met through imports.
e) Steel Sector Development Authority, with due representation of the provinces, may be established under administrative control of the Prime Minister to develop steel sector on all-Pakistan basis. However, Pak Steel Mill may continue to be administered by the Ministry of Industries and Production like other public sector industrial units.
Kalabagh Steel Mill Project Eventually Sees Hope
90,000 Jobs in Sight
Business Recorder: Kalabagh steel mill revival plan under study - reports Fawad Yousafzai . Islamabad (December 19 2004): The government is considering to restart work on the installation of the second biggest steel mill near Kalabagh, in Mianwali District, it is learnt. President General Pervaiz Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz after through consultations have directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to update the feasibility study on Kalabagh iron ore to start work on the project, an official told Business Recorder. However, he said that all work is in the initial stage. This project will create 10,000 direct and 90,000 indirect jobs in the area. He said that it would be the second largest steel mill in the country. The idea of the construction of steel mill at Kalabagh is not new. It is very old, but could not materialise due to lack of interest on the part of successive governments, the official added. There is a potential of over 780 million tons iron ore spread in Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan, but Kalabagh ore reserves are the biggest ( about 9300 million tons). The second biggest reserves are of Dilband iron ore, which are about 200 million tons. The official said that the idea of steel mill based on Kalabagh iron ore was first floated in 1956, but the mill was set up in Karachi due to the major car manufacturing industries located near the port. In 1956, Krupp, of Germany, had offered assistance for setting up steel mill based on Kalabagh iron ore, coal and most other minerals available within about 11 miles. The present government is interested in development of Kalabagh iron ore and wants to use indigenous iron in the country's steel mills. The official said that now Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) would undertake the feasibility study of the project. However, he said that Kalabagh ore contains 40 percent iron but the ore used in steel mills requires 60 percent iron. A feasibility study is also needed for enriching the iron ore in the area. Now the GSP would undertake detailed study and would try to locate places in Kalabagh where iron ore of required standard is available, the official added. He said that the Prime Minister has directed Pakistan Steel to increase its purchase of iron ore from Dilband from 0.1 million tons. He said that last year steel mill had signed agreement with Bolan Mining Enterprises (BME) for purchase of 0.1 million tons iron ore, out of which so far 80,000 ton ore has been delivered to Pakistan Steel. Currently, Pakistan Steel's annual iron ore imports, totalling 1.8 million tons, come from Australia, India and Brazil.
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