From Port City to Economic Powerhouse: Gwadar’s Transformation through Resource Exploration



by Zafar Yousafzai    24 May 2023

Gwadar, once a port city with untapped potential, is now on its way to becoming an economic powerhouse through resource exploration. The development of Gwadar Port, establishment of Gwadar Free Zones, and export of gold and copper from the Reko Diq mine are driving its remarkable transformation. The development of the Gwadar Port and the potential of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have laid a strong economic foundation for the future generations of Balochistan. Gwadar, a strategically located port city, holds immense significance in the overall upliftment of the region. This article explores the various resources exploration projects planned for Gwadar and their potential to bring socio-economic benefits to the local population.

Gwadar Port: A Game-Changer

Gwadar Port serves as the backbone of the region’s economic growth. The people of Gwadar are the main and fundamental stakeholders of this port city. With the completion of the port, the government aims to transform Gwadar into a vibrant international city accommodating multiple communities. Ensuring the political rights of the locals through appropriate legislation is crucial for their active participation and benefit from the city’s development.

Gwadar Free Zones: Boosting Export Potential

To actualize Pakistan as an export-oriented country, the Gwadar Free Zones (North and South) have been established. These zones play a pivotal role in promoting trade and attracting foreign investment. The Gwadar Free Zones not only facilitate exports to foreign countries but also provide services for the supply of trade articles and manufacturing items to the local markets. This integration fosters a balanced socio-economic uplift in the region. 

Reko Diq: Exporting Gold and Copper

One of the significant projects associated with Gwadar Port is the export of gold and copper from the Reko Diq mine. Barrick Gold Company, one of the world’s leading mining companies, has invested $7 billion in this project. The Reko Diq mine is known for its vast copper-gold deposits, making it a valuable resource for economic growth. The investment will be carried out in two phases, with $4 billion invested in the first four years and $3 billion in the subsequent six years, contributing to the socio-economic development of Balochistan.

Enhanced Trade Infrastructure

To boost the technical side of trade through Gwadar Port, the introduction of the e-Customs system has been planned. This high-functioning technical port will streamline trade operations, improve efficiency, and enhance connectivity with international markets. The web-based One Customs (WeBOC) system will play a crucial role in facilitating commercial activities at the port, accelerating industrialization, and improving logistic services.

Vocational Training for Skill Development

Recognizing the importance of skill development, the federal government has prioritized providing better opportunities to the youth of Balochistan, especially in Gwadar, under the CPEC initiative. Vocational training centers have been established to equip the local population with modern education and technical skills. Gwadar pays particular emphasis on technical training centers for precision mechanics, instrument technology, and die and mold methods. This investment in skill development will help generate technical know-how and empower the local workforce.

Economic Transformation and Employment Generation

The implementation of resources exploration projects in Gwadar has the potential to transform the economic landscape of Balochistan and generate significant employment opportunities. The development of Gwadar Port and the establishment of Gwadar Free Zones will attract both local and foreign investors, leading to the creation of diverse industries and businesses. This, in turn, will create jobs for the local population, reducing unemployment rates and improving their socio-economic conditions.


The Gwadar Free Zones, in particular, will play a crucial role in job creation. These zones will encourage foreign direct investment and promote export-oriented industries, such as manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics. The presence of these industries will provide employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers, empowering the local workforce and improving their standard of living.

Social Development and Infrastructure

Alongside the economic benefits, the resources exploration projects planned for Gwadar also aim to bring about social development and improved infrastructure in the region. The revenue generated from these projects can be utilized for the construction and enhancement of educational institutions, healthcare facilities, roads, and utilities. This will uplift the overall living standards of the local population and provide them with access to better education, healthcare, and transportation facilities.

Investments in vocational training centers, such as the Pak-China Technical and Vocational Training Institute Gwadar and the Gwadar Institute of Technology, will equip the youth with the necessary skills to meet the demands of the evolving job market. By providing them with technical education, these training centers will empower the local workforce to secure better employment opportunities, reduce poverty, and contribute to the overall socio-economic development of the region.

Sustainable Development and Environmental Considerations

While pursuing economic growth and development, it is crucial to prioritize sustainable practices and minimize the negative impact on the environment. The resources exploration projects planned for Gwadar should take into account environmental considerations and adopt measures to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of the region. Responsible mining practices, adherence to environmental regulations, and the promotion of renewable energy sources can help mitigate potential environmental risks. Furthermore, it is essential to involve local communities in decision-making processes and ensure their participation in environmental conservation efforts. Engaging with environmental experts, implementing sustainable development practices, and conducting environmental impact assessments will help strike a balance between economic progress and environmental preservation.


The resources exploration projects planned for Gwadar, including the development of Gwadar Port, the establishment of Gwadar Free Zones, and the export of gold and copper from the Reko Diq mine, hold immense potential for the socio-economic upliftment of the local population. These projects will not only create employment opportunities but also attract foreign investment, enhance trade infrastructure, and foster skill development through vocational training. As Gwadar transforms into an international city, it is crucial to ensure that the benefits of these projects are shared equitably among the local communities, empowering them to actively participate in and contribute to the region’s development. The successful implementation of these projects will pave the way for a prosperous and inclusive future for Balochistan.