Experts call for value addition of run-of-mine minerals

May 23, 2024

Faiza Tehseen

Despite holding immense potential, the run-of-mine (ROM) minerals remain latent until subjected to refinement or processing.

“The value addition to ROMs can bring great economic benefits for the investors and other stakeholders of the mining industry in Pakistan. The processing of ROMs is necessary to avoid unnecessary waste bulks and waste of precious leftovers,” noted Abdul Bashir, chief geologist at a Balochistan-based firm – Koh-e-Daleel Minerals (Pvt), Ltd. Talking to WealthPK, he said, “Grinding, crushing, sorting, and sometimes only a little washing is needed to extract valuable metals or minerals. Further refining, grading, or smelting adds more value to earn profits. Mostly, mining leftovers before starting a proper operation are sold at cheap rates or just dumped to get rid of them. But, by putting in only a little effort, good economic outputs can be generated.” He said that ROM referred to the unprocessed or raw mineral ore extracted from a mine before processing. “To maximize the value of this raw material, effective handling is necessary. It will foster sustainable growth, improved market competitiveness, innovation and good economic returns.

Processing of ROMs also provides high production in less time because only sorting and grading provide several required important mining products for further use.” Bashir said, “By doing so, the number and variety of export materials will increase. The indigenous industry will also get enough raw material, leading to reduced imports.” He said it was important to bring awareness to communities and stakeholders of the mining sector about extracting maximum produce from mineral ores. He said that no element/metal was produced without ROM or leftovers. “Their processing increases the recovery volume by 5% to 10% more. On the other hand, the ROM or mining leftovers are transported to faraway places, and buyers further process them to recover metals or minerals in good quantity, but at high cost. Installation of small processing units near the mines will help cut the transportation costs.”

The mining expert said the government should establish the processing plants with the help of the private sector. “These plants will also bring socio-economic benefits to the areas in the shape of development, innovation, business and job creation, and a sustainable livelihood for local communities, particularly strengthening the small and medium-sized sector.” Talking to WealthPK, Muhammad Yousaf, mining engineer and general secretary of the Institute of Mining Engineers, Pakistan, said, “Efficient ROM operations are necessary to maximize the intrinsic value of raw mineral ores. He emphasised on the value addition to maximize the potential of ROMs. “Globally, the demand for precious minerals and metals is surging and experts are advocating the need to extract the maximum from the mineral ore”.   He said unfortunately, a lot of precious mined material was wasted due to negligence or unawareness about further processing.

“Mostly, the miners in Pakistan sell the mined product in totally raw form or as a ROM. Secondly, it is also a common practice that huge boulders or earth excavated before a mining operation also contain precious minerals or metals that can be recovered after a little sieving, washing, or any small processing. But they are thrown away or deposited in a side area. They are also a type of ROMs,” he pointed out. Yousaf said, “Miners remain deprived of the real profit earning against their investment only because of the non-processing of ROMs. “The government should launch an effective awareness campaign for the mining industry stakeholders that they could increase their profits and strengthen the mining industry by making use of ROMs.” 

Credit: INP-WealthPk