Mineral resources; Better Late than Never

By: Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Wed 25 May / May 2016. 08:44 PM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Just some years back, I conducted a journalistic investigation on mineral resources in Jordan, titled “Jordan; Wealthy Underneath, Impoverished Above”; underscoring the massiveness of mineral resources within reach, underexploited and underemployed, due to shortcomings in official policy, in this respect.

The investigation attempted to tie the increasing rates of poverty and unemployment on one hand, with the inadequacies of the government, and the absence of will to excavate known mineral treasures, with outstanding commercial values, on the other.

Jordan has much useful minerals tucked in its geological layers. Some of which considered primary sources of national income and employment in other countries, in addition to such wealths being instrumental to structural economic change and advancement; incorporating developed and advanced industries that build on such resources. An example on that, but not limited to it; is Silica, which is primitively invested in, here, with no added value in expected returns compared to potential yield on investment capacities.

Reaffirmed, sadly, by expert convictions, often outspoken on resource underinvestment, particularly mineral; the report came in supportive, bearing great news to the people of Jordan, and the Country itself; with expectations, more so; popular imagination, not so seldom claiming there to be underexploited resources in Jordan.

In times past, the “Authority for Mineral Resources” would get on top of this. They have, with such limited and weak resources, given all they can, but still coming in short, for those very two reasons; from convincing the public the governments did their part, in these regards/

Expectedly, the shortcoming fell even shorter with the annulment of the “Authority” as an institution, and the distribution of its tasks over numerous parties, to the point that it became hopeless for serious works to be pursued in this regard, even though the legacy of the “Authority” has been shared by the newly “respective”, is rich of studies and knowledge on national Jordanian resources, and where they are located.

Finally, something, with a glimmer of hope shines through with the possibility of investing in Jordan’s wealth, as such that would yield benefit to Jordanians. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Dr Ibrahim Said, announced last Monday, that there is a pressing necessity to reinforce efforts to support and promote the mining and mineral resources extraction and industrialisation sector, to revitalise it, and reassured that there will be focus, this year, on mineral resources.

The general objective of the 2016-2025 Mineral Resources Strategy is to build the sector’s GDP contributory capacity up to 11 per cent by 2025, compared to 8 per cent in 2015, as mineral exports comprised 30 per cent of Jordan’s total exportations last year. In addition to the thousands of labour opening that come with the sector’s development for Jordanians, which entails that the attainment of the strategic objectives sanctions the creation of more opportunity.

However wishful, the new strategy is just one single step in the right direction, in which a data base of fresh information has been collected and investigated on Jordanian mineral resources, and a legal framework has to be legalised and legislated to allow for optimal investment, including drawing domestic and foreign investments into the mining sector, and its development, which would help attain popular aspiration.

Much detail lies in the proposed dynamics of this sector. Much non-metal minerals have been partially excavated, like phosphate, potassium, cement, bicarbonate sodium, and other of minerals of the sort, while a lot remains unexplored, of metal minerals; like copper, magnesium, gold, and much more.

The determinants of success are aligned. Especially the minerals, to begin with, followed with human capital, second, and prior to both; is the official will to develop investment in this field, through resource allocation, practically and scientifically, to preface cooperation with the private sector. It would not be an exaggeration to say that billions of dollars lay right beneath our feet, waiting to be extracted, and interpolated into a reality for Jordanians to live out the dream of investing their Country’s graces, with their labour of course.

While, unfortunately, we are very late in respect to the development of the mineral resource sector, still; better late than never. Accordingly, dispersed efforts have to align under one umbrella, to commence the pursuit of a long delayed work by governments.