PAKISTAN and the Canadian Company Barrick Gold Corporation have reached an out-of-court settlement concerning the development of copper and gold mines in Chagai popularly known as Reko Diq under which an $11 billion penalty slapped against Pakistan by a World Bank arbitration court and other liabilities will be waived and Barrick and its partners will invest $10 billion in the project.
This indeed is a big news and step towards exploiting the country’s natural resources and indeed the reserves at Reko Diq have the potential to transform the whole economic landscape not only of Balochistan province but the whole country.
Reko Diq is one of the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world, capable of producing 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold a year for more than half a century.
According to the settlement reached, 50pc of the new project’s shares will be owned by Barrick Gold, while the remaining shares shall be owned by Pakistan, divided equally between the Centre and the Balochistan government.
The Balochistan government will not incur any expenses in development of the mines, and its share of expenses shall be borne by the federal government.
Whilst more details about the deal with the Canadian Company are not available but it is really imperative that these resources are developed in a transparent, accountable and lawful manner for the benefit of the people.
To reap the maximum benefit from this resource, local processing and value addition be done domestically.
This will bring in more investment over and above the investment in mines which will not only increase the industrial base of the country but also create immense job opportunities for the youth.
Countries such as Iran are producing many copper products which have really benefitted its economy.
We should also follow the suit.And as some local companies have been involved in Reko Diq project, this will enable them to get the expertise and technology to do such projects independently in future.
We will also suggest the government to expedite oil and gas exploration in Balochistan to ensure energy security of the country.