Gilgit Baltistan (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Gilgit Baltistan (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Pakistan exploiting scope of uranium enrichment in Gilgit Baltistan, activists raise concern

ANI | Updated: Sep 18, 2021 08:12 IST

Gilgit Baltistan [PoK]/Glasgow [Scotland], September 18 (ANI): In violation of international laws, Pakistan has been exploiting the scope of uranium enrichment in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan, confirmed locals and political activists from the occupied region.
Sources in Gilgit Baltistan said a team of Pakistani experts from the Atomic Energy Material Centre (AEMC) had visited the Haider Abad area of Hunza Nagar, Skardu and Ghizer areas of Gilgit Baltistan. They too visited an enrichment site located near the Dargai village in Malakand district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for uranium exploration.
Earlier, there were reports that Pakistan has given a free hand to Chinese mining companies to plunder natural resources in Gilgit Baltistan. There are reports that over 2,000 leases for mining of gold, uranium and molybdenum have been illegally awarded to Chinese firms by the Pakistan government in occupied Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza, a political activist and journalist from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) said, "Chinese geologists along with members on mining corporation were in the Hunza-Nagar district. They were accompanied by a team of Pakistan military geologists. Together they visited mountains in Hunza valley and Nagar which are said to be rich in uranium and other minerals mostly used in nuclear and space technology."
He added, "Certain areas of upper Hunza, like the Chapursan valley were leased by Asif Ali Zardari government out to China. The details of the lease have never been made public. However, these have become no-go areas even for the Pakistan army as the Chinese continue to work on tunnel building and mineral exploration. Chinese miners have also acquired the lease in Astore district to extract high-quality copper".

Dr Mirza told ANI that the company digging uranium in Gilgit Baltistan is Shahzad International, which is considered to be one of the largest lease-owning foreign contractors in the region. "Reports of applying crude methods and indiscriminate blasting techniques are being used for excavation. This is causing extensive environmental damage since Chinese-made, gasoline-powered rock drills both on the surface and underground are being used. This is not only detrimental to the miner's health, but it also causes irreversible ecological damage. Heavy deforestation is also taking place in the area."
Moreover, Pakistan has also been exploring the possibility of uranium mining in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province.
The area of Dargai village in Pakistan has been of interest to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for mining uranium, under the New Gudi Khel Uranium Mining Project. The project, with an estimated cost of Pakistani Rs 2,416 million, was slated to be implemented during 2020-2025. However, it has been delayed for various reasons.
As per plans, 36 wells are to be drilled to facilitate uranium enrichment through a process of In Situ Leach (ISL) to produce 125 tons of uranium over 5 years.
Exploration of uranium is a critical subject and of concern to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the international community. Pakistan has been carrying out these explorations without informing the concerned international agencies. (ANI)