FINALLY, there is some good news vis-à-vis the exploration of so far untapped vast gold and copper reserves at Reko Diq.
A local consortium called the National Resources Private Limited (NRL) has presented a comprehensive proposal with all necessary documents to Balochistan Mineral Exploration Company on unsolicited basis to develop the Tanjeel reserves first and then the vast Reko Diq copper-cum-gold reserves.
Indeed this is an important development as bringing to use the precious natural resources in Balochistan will change the entire economic landscape of the country.
Since both the federal and provincial governments have no resources to unearth these resources on their own, hence, the interest of the local consortium should be welcomed as local investment in such projects entail more benefits for the country as opposed to the foreign one where the foreign companies try to pocket the maximum profit, leaving peanuts for the host country.
The proposal should be green light after a thorough review, ensuring that the people of Balochistan get maximum benefit from it.
A state of the art mining and processing unit will be required for the exploration at Reko Diq and other sites and the consortium must be facilitated in every possible manner including through cut in duties to import it. This will be beginning of a new era and further encourage exploration of natural resources.
The economically mineable portion of the deposit at the Reko Diq alone has been calculated at 2.2bn tonnes, with an average copper grade of 0.53pc and gold grade of 0.30g per tonne, with an annual production estimated at 200,000 tonnes of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold contained in 600,000 tonnes of concentrate. There should not be further delay in unearthing of this strategic national asset.
At the same time, efforts must be made for early disposal of the Reko Diq case at the World Bank tribunal.
There is no justification whatsoever for slapping a whopping penalty of $ 5.97 on Pakistan as the agreement with the Australian company Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) was cancelled after the Supreme Court ruling which had termed the agreement in conflict with the country’s laws.