- Mark Bristow says the company's engineers have arrived at the Reko Diq field and have started preliminary work
The Barrick Gold Corporation has initiated work on the Reko Diq project in Balochistan, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow announced.
The company's head made the announcement while speaking at a ceremony at Chief Minister House in Quetta on Sunday, according to Radio Pakistan.
He said engineers of the company have arrived at the Reko Diq field and they have started preliminary work while the recruitment process has also been started for the project.
Earlier, Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and the CEO of Barrick Gold signed the documents for payment of three million dollars by the company to the Balochistan government as part of the agreement.
The amount will be transferred to the Balochistan government this month.
Under the agreement, payment of royalties from the company to the province will also be started from March this year.
The company will also carry out social and economic development in the project area.
Last month, the Supreme Court of Pakistan 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 in 2022 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 2022, 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.
At a press conference in Islamabad in July 2022, 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.
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.”