ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court on Friday declared an agreement between the country and two international firms, for the development of the Reko Diq mine, as legal, local media reported.
The Reko Diq mine is located in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province which is said to have one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits. The development of the project was suspended in 2011 after Pakistan denied the Tethyan Copper Company, a joint venture between Barrick Gold of Canada and Antofagasta Minerals of Chile, license to continue work.
The country’s Supreme Court blocked the Tethyan Copper Company in 2013 from developing Reko Diq following a court case on how the contract had been awarded. However, Pakistan reached an out-of-court settlement with the mining firms in March this year to avoid paying the $9 billion penalty announced by the World Bank’s arbitration court, and the government said it was hopeful that Barrick and its partners would invest $10 billion in the project.
The verdict was announced by a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
“In its 13-page short order issued today, the court observed that the government had entered the agreement after consulting experts, as per the court order, and the Balochistan Assembly was taken into confidence regarding the agreement,” Dawn, a leading newspaper in Pakistan, reported.
The court observed that the Balochistan Assembly lawmakers were briefed on the matter and they did not raise any objections to the agreement, Dawn said. It said the court order noted that Barrick Gold Corporation had assured labor rights would not be violated during the project’s implementation and that the agreement met environmental requirements.
“There was nothing illegal in the new Reko Diq agreement, the court concluded, adding that it was also not in violation of its 2013 judgment,” Dawn reported.
The revival of Reko Diq project is expected to give a fillip to the economy by creating a more positive investment sentiment and increasing employment opportunities in the country.