QUETTA: Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Malik Baloch has dispelled the impression of striking a deal with any company with regard to Reko Diq gold-cum-copper mine project, .
“I will not sell a stone of Balochistan, Reko Diq is something very big,” Dr Baloch told a crowded press conference at Chief Minister’s Secretariat in Quetta on Thursday.
The chief minister’s remarks came after opposition parties in Balochistan Assembly leveled serious allegations against the province’s nationalist-led government. Opposition parties had claimed that Reko Diq gold and copper reservoirs were being sold to foreign companies.
The Chief Minister rejected the reports of again granting contract to Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) of Reko Diq.
He said the Supreme Court had already rejected the agreement with TCC and in this regard the apex court had issued a judgment as well.
Dr. Baloch said the agreement with TCC by Balochistan Development Authority had violated the province’s mines and mineral rules.
“Every company is bound to follow Balochistan mining rules,” he added.
Geologists consider Reko Diq as one of the ten major gold and copper deposits across the globe. Former Pakistan Peoples Party led government in Balochistan had decided to execute the mega project.
For this purpose, Nawab Raisani led government had allocated Rs15 billion for exploration of gold and copper in the area.
Dr. Baloch assured his cabinet, the Balochistan Assembly and masses of the province that his government would guard all mineral and natural resources and added that, “I am leading an accountable and responsive government.”
The Chief Minister also said that his government has decided to serve legal notices on two journalists who were allegedly spreading false information about him.
“These anchors were misleading the people,” he said.
The Chief Minister however lamented that masses of Balochistan were yet to be benefited from rich-mineral and natural resources.
“Even Sui town is deprived of gas facility,” Dr. Baloch said while referring to rich gas reservoirs in Balochistan’s troubled Dera Bugtio district.
Regarding Saindak Project, the chief minister stated that the province was not beneficiary of the project rather Chinese and federal government were major beneficiaries.
“China and Federal government were getting 50 per cent each share whereas Balochistan was being paid a mere 2 per cent royalty,” he said.
The Balochistan government had first signed the contract for the exploration of Reko Diq area with international mining company BHP Billiton in 1993 and established a joint venture with the respective interests of the province at 25 per cent and BHP at 75 per cent by virtue of a deed of waiver and consent signed in June 2000. The Australian Mincor Resources bought out BHP stakes in 2000.
In 2011, Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a joint venture between Antofagasta of Chile and Canada’s Barrick Gold Corporation, approached the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes’ Tribunal in Washington D.C. and claimed damages after the Balochistan government refused to give the go-ahead for extracting copper and gold from the project site.
The TCC alleged that the provincial government had violated the company’s rights under the 1993 Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (CHEJVA).
The Supreme Court in January 2013 had declared void and illegal a mining deal for the Reko Diq copper project signed 20 years ago between the Balochistan government and international mining companies.
The apex court in its ruling said that the agreement reached on July 23, 1993 was in conflict with the laws of the country.
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Oct 22, 2016 0
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