ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has directed concerned ministries and provincial governments to resolve issue of M/s Barrick Gold Project including upgradation of available airstrip for smooth operations, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.
Two high-level meetings of Project Support Team (PST) were held in the current month, ie, May 2023, under the chairmanship of Joint Secretary (EA) and attended by the focal persons in person and on video link. Ali Ehsan Rind, Country Director, Reko-Diq, Balochistan and Mehtab Ahmad Reko-Diq also attended the meeting.
Country Director Barrick Gold made a detailed presentation on the overall project and highlighted specific milestones needed to be completed to finalize the revision of project feasibility studies by December 2024.
Following key issues, being critical to completion of feasibility study were identified, discussed and decisions made.
The meeting was informed that rail survey has been completed to connect the Pakistan Railways track with Barrick Gold Project site. An MoU signing with the Pakistan Railways to include the railways in the project feasibility is awaited, and Secretary Railways will finalize the MoU in consultation with the company and other stakeholders.
It was decided that Secretary Railways shall nominate a focal person (not below BS-20) to be co-opted for implementation of this specific decision.
It was noted that the Project Company needs exclusivity of identified land (60 acres) in the Gwadar Port Free Zone for completion of updated feasibility studies. Port Authorities, however, have demanded for $ 100,000 as CSR for Gwadar area.
According to Country Director Barrick, as per its CSR policy, the project company has a budget of $ 3 million in first year and $ 7 million for second year which in first phase is dedicated for district Chagi. Nonetheless, the Company is willing to budget for CSR for Gwadar in the next phase. Secretary Maritime Affairs is tasked to consult with Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) and Gwadar port Holding Company (GPHPL) to resolve the issue.
Project Company has held several meetings with the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) to finalize the power requirements and evacuation arrangements. To resolve the issue top man of NTDC will hold a meeting with the company and share plan along with specific timelines on the provision of electricity and its evacuation to the project site. NTDC shall nominate a focal person (not below BS-20) to be co-opted for implementation of this specific decision.
Registration of the Project Company as EPZ has been completed, however, Custom Registration in the system is pending for the last five months and is impacting the completion of revised feasibility studies of the project. The project company is to hold meeting with Member Customs, FBR for the resolution of issue.
Several SROs covering the fiscal and monetary incentives and other administrative support have been issued by the federal government and provincial governments, however, three SROs are not published in the Gazette by the Government of Sindh. In this context, Chief Secretary shall ensure that Secretaries of concerned departments get these (following) SROs Gazette notified: (i) SRO 2(b) - Sindh Sales Tax on services (SRB 3-4/47/2002) SRO 1(m); (ii) Sindh Excise Tax (SO) Taxes)/ET&NC/2(204)/2015; and (iii) SRO 1(u)- Sindh Workers Welfare Fund (No; SRO-(II) 21-25/2015.
As per the SROs notified by the Ministry of Interior, for secure movement of Company’s expatriates within Balochistan, Project company needs 16 B-6 vehicles (locally manufacture red) to facilitate the execution of revised feasibility studies. Project Company has applied for the approval and same is pending at the Ministry of Interior (MoI). Focal person, Interior Division to facilitate in fasttracking of requisite approval.
Project is being provided the required security, however, signing of formalization of the security arrangement, MoU with Frontier Corps (FC) may be finalized/signed immediately.
Project Company needs to upgrade the available air strip for smooth operations. Secretary Aviation to hold the meeting of stakeholders and issue approvals on fast-track basis. Aviation Division shall nominate a focal person (not below BS-20) to be co-opted for implementation of this specific decision.
CEO, NITB has held meetings with representative of the Project Company to obtain required data for the dashboard and come up with or the review of Team Lead PST.
Project requires a road network connecting the site with Gwadar Port as per NHAs laid down standards. government of Balochistan is constructing/upgrading road connectivity, which needs to follow the NHA standards to ensure mobility of heavy traffic to and from project site to port. Member Infrastructure, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives will hold meeting with the concerned departments/divisions to ascertain and ensure the road connectivity requirements of the project and update the Team Lead on May 26, 2023.
The Country Director Barrick Gold to share progress in updating/improving the legislative and legal framework for mining in Pakistan.
The sources said, all concerned Secretaries in Federal Government and Chief Secretaries in Balochistan and Sindh, through their respective focal persons, shall ensure implementation of decisions taken in the meeting as per timelines and focal person shall furnish compliance report for perusal of the Prime Minister.
The meeting also decided that for smooth working of PST, the focal persons shall not be changed unless there are compelling grounds to do so.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023