Pakistan govt, Barrick Gold to restart Reko Diq project

AgenciesUpdated: Monday, March 21, 2022, 10:08 AM IST
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The project, which was suspended in 2011 due to a dispute over the legality of its licensing process, hosts one of the world's largest undeveloped open pit copper-gold porphyry deposits, the company said in a statement./ Representative image | Photo credit: IANS

Barrick Gold Corporation and the governments of Pakistan and Balochistan have reached an agreement on a framework that provides for the reconstitution of the Reko Diq project in the country's Balochistan province, after 10 years of legal battles and negotiations.

The project, which was suspended in 2011 due to a dispute over the legality of its licensing process, hosts one of the world's largest undeveloped open pit copper-gold porphyry deposits, the company said in a statement.

The reconstituted project will be held 50 percent by Barrick and 50 percent by Pakistan stakeholders, comprising a 10 percent free-carried, non-contributing share held by the government of Balochistan, an additional 15 per cent held by a special purpose company owned by the government of Balochistan and 25 per cent owned by other federal state-owned enterprises.

According to the press release, a separate agreement provides for Barrick's partner Antofagasta PLC to be replaced in the project by the Pakistani parties.

Barrick will be the operator of the project which will be granted a mining lease, exploration licence, surface rights and a mineral agreement stabilizing the fiscal regime applicable to the project for a specified period, the release added.

"...This is a unique opportunity for substantial foreign investment in the Balochistan province and will bring enormous direct and indirect benefits not only to this region but also to Pakistan for decades to come. In addition to local employment and skills development, local procurement, infrastructure upgrades and improved medical and education systems, Reko Diq could also be the springboard for further exploration and other mineral discoveries along the highly prospective Tethyan Metallogenic Belt," said Mark Bristow, Barrick's president and chief executive officer.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the people of Balochistan on agreement with Barrick Gold for the development of RekoDiq mine.

"I congratulate the nation and people of Balochistan on successful agreement with Barrick Gold for development of RekoDiq mine after 10 years of legal battles and negotiations. The penalty of approx $11 bn is offset, $10 bn will be invested in Balochistan creating 8000 new jobs," Imran Khan tweeted.

"RD will potentially be the largest gold and copper mine in the world. It will liberate us from crippling debt and usher in a new era of development and prosperity," he said in another tweet.

(With ANI inputs)

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