- Prior to announcing verdict, SC had sought help of foreign experts
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday declared the new Reko Diq mine deal legal and urged all provinces to amend their laws in accordance with the agreement.
An agreement in principle was reached between the government of Pakistan, the provincial government of Balochistan and Barrick Gold Corporation earlier this year for the reconstitution and restart of the project, which has been on hold since 2011.
The court also observed that the Balochistan Assembly was taken into confidence regarding the agreement. The order stated that the law did not allow agreements on national resources in violation of the Constitution
Barrick Gold Corporation assured that laws for wages would be abided by and most of the labour force would be recruited from Pakistan, the order said.
The court was further told that the project would be used for investing in social initiatives and skill development schemes would also be launched under it, the order added.
In October, President Dr Arif Alvi had filed a reference in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to seek an opinion on the Reko Diq case on the advice of the prime minister.
SC had reserved the verdict on the reference last week, and announced it today.
It said the deal was legal, and environment-friendly as well. Prior to announcing the verdict, SC had sought the help of foreign experts on the subject.
At a press conference in Islamabad in July, Barrick President Mark Bristow had said that the first phase of Reko Diq copper-gold project will be completed by 2027-28, and the scheme will convert it into a "world-class mine and transform Balochistan".
It will be operated by Canada's Barrick, which will have 50% ownership. 25% will be owned by the Balochistan government and 25% by Pakistani state-owned enterprises.
“We will bring capital and technology to this project,” Bristow had said at the time.
Both sides are committed to show the world how partnerships on huge projects can deliver excellent results, he said.
Investment for the first phase of the project is estimated at $4 billion and the firm is looking for a consortium of investors to pour in $2 billion out of this value, he said.
“We have reached out to International Finance Corporation, co-investors and export and import agencies around the world,” Bristow said. “This is one of the largest fixed foreign investment project that Pakistan has ever had and it is the largest in Balochistan.”
The Apex Committee, headed by Minister for Finance and Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (Private) Limited shareholders, had agreed to a framework for the settlement and revival of the Reko Diq Project in March 2022.