Chinese mining firm gets 15-year lease for copper, gold exploration in Saindak

Chinese mining firm gets 15-year lease for copper, gold exploration in Saindak. (Phot courtesy: Social Media)
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Updated 02 July 2020

Chinese mining firm gets 15-year lease for copper, gold exploration in Saindak

  • The East Ore Body area contains about 278 million tons of copper and gold deposits
  • China’s MRDL will invest $45 million on the purchase of machinery and development of mines

KARACHI: Pakistan has allowed China’s MCC Resources Development Company (MRDL) to explore and develop eastern mines under the Saindak Copper-Gold Project for another 15 years, officials told Arab News on Wednesday.

A small town in Balochistan’s Chaghi district, Saindak has huge mineral resources. The Chinese company will invest $45 million to explore copper and gold in the East Ore Body (EOB) area of the town where 278 million tons of deposits are estimated.

“The money will be used to purchase machinery and develop the mines after the government of Balochistan has given its consent to extend our lease for the next 15 years,” Humayun Mehmoodi, MRDL vice president, told Arab News. “The current machinery needs to be replaced as it has been in use since 2002.”

Last Friday, Balochistan’s provincial administration informed the federal government that it had extended the stay of Metrological Construction Company of China (MCC) that has an agreement with the federally-owned Saindak Metals Limited (SML), making it possible for the foreign firm to continue the exploration and development work in the area.

Locally registered as MRDL, the MCC has been operating in Balochistan’s remote town since 2002, extracting significant amount of mineral resources from the region.

“The deposits in South and North Ore Body have almost depleted and soon there will be nothing to explore, so we approached the government to get the lease and agreement extended for the development of Eastern Ore Body,” Mehmoodi informed.

“The EOB has 278 million tons of reservoirs. It is the third and the largest reservoir with major content of copper. The mining life of the EOB is around 19 years,” he added.

The company’s contract agreement was scheduled to expire on October 31, 2022. In a letter written to the Federal Ministry of Energy, the Balochistan administration noted that an extension in the lease would “ensure investment of $45 million by MCC/SML at their own risk for exploration and development of East Ore Body in Saindak area.”

According to analysts, Chinese companies are playing an active role in the development of Pakistan’s southwestern province, since they are bringing in investments and technical support.

“The provincial government’s decision to extend the lease shows that it wants to continue the development of the local mining sector. The Chinese investment is also creating job opportunities in Balochistan,” Shaukat Populzai, president of Balochistan Economic Forum, told Arab News.

He added that the development of Gwadar would “change the economic geography of the area.”

MRDL officials say the company is providing employment to 1,890 Pakistanis and 85 percent of them are locals. The company also maintains that it is providing free electricity, water and schooling to the residents of about 60 villages surrounding the area.

At least 15 dead in stampede near Pakistan consulate in Afghanistan

Updated 41 min 51 sec ago

At least 15 dead in stampede near Pakistan consulate in Afghanistan

  • Among the dead are 11 women, several senior citizens were wounded
  • Over 3,000 Afghans congregated to apply for a visa to travel to Pakistan

JALALABAD: At least 15 Afghans were killed and more than a dozen injured in a stampede that occurred in an open ground where thousands of Afghans had gathered on Tuesday to secure visas from the Pakistan consulate in eastern Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday.

Sohrab Qaderi, a provincial council member in eastern Jalalabad city, where the incident occurred said of the 15 people dead, 11 were women and several senior citizens were wounded.

Two other provincial officials said over 3,000 Afghans had congregated to collect tokens needed to apply for a visa to travel to Pakistan.

Officials in the Pakistan embassy were not immediately available for comment.