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Reko Diq: A way forward to shatter debt shackles

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Reko Diq: A way forward to shatter debt shackles

Balochistan province, once known for insurgency and deteriorating law and order, is now ready to assist in boosting country’s economy as the government has successfully restructured and restarted the stalled multi-billion dollar RekoDiq project.

Reko Diq that means sand and gold mounds in Balochi language, has an estimated reserve of 5.9 billion tons of ore grading 0.41% copper and gold reserves.

Located in Chaghi district, about 70 kilometres north-west of Naukundi, a town near Iran and Afghanistan, Reko Diq is thought to have the world’s fifth largest untapped gold and copper deposits.

“We can say goodbye to International Monitory Fund and other international loan financiers for good, once Balochistan’s mines and minerals are fully explored,” Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Quddus Bizenjo said.

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Expressing desire for a prosper Balochistan, Bizenjo said that US$ eight billion Reko Diq project was the largest agreement ever signed in country’s history. “This project will not only end Balochistan’s sense of deprivation but also help to boost country’s economy, create jobs and bring positive changes to masses’ lifestyles.”

According to an agreement signed with Barrick Gold Company (BGC), Balochistan will reap dividends, royalties and other benefits associated with its 25% stake without having to contribute financially.

The project is expected to employ approximately an overall 7,500 people with 4,000 long term jobs once it goes operational as the BGC intends to complete an updated feasibility study by the end of 2024, with first production beginning in 2028.

According to updated feasibility study, Reko Diq will be starting a conventional open pit and milling operation to produce a high-quality copper-gold concentrate.It will be built in two phases, beginning with a plant capable of processing approximately 40 million tonsore per year, to be doubled in five years after first production from phase one.

With its unique combination of large scale, low strip and a good grade, Reko Diq will be a multi-generational mine with a life of at least 40 years.

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Barrick President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow said the completion of legal processes is key to progressing Reko Diq into a world-class, long-life mine that would substantially benefit present and future generations of Pakistani.

“We are currently updating project’s 2010 feasibility and 2011 feasibility expansion studies. This should be completed by 2024 with 2028 targeted for first production,” Bristow said. “We expect it to be constructed in two phases with a combined process capacity of 80 million tons per annum.”

“RekoDiq’s ownership structure exemplifies Barrick’s commitment to partnering with its host countries and fairly sharing value of our operations with all of our stakeholders,” Bristow said.

Furthermore, Reko Diq will pay up to $50 million in royalties to the Balochistan government until commercial production begins.

Since an agreement was signed in 1993 with the Australian Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) for exploration of these reserves, the Reko Diq project faced numerous challenges. The TCC was later purchased by Canada’s Barrick Gold and Chile’s Anto Fagasta.

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In response to another agreement signed in 2006, the two foreign companies’ shares were fixed at 37.5 percent and Balochistan’s share was fixed at 25 percent, CM Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani cancelled the company’s license in 2011 that was endorsed by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The TCC went to the World Bank Arbitration Court and the federal government agreed to restart the project with BGC in an out-of-court settlement.

Following the federal government’s reference, the Supreme Court ruled on December 9 the long-delayed rehabilitation agreement for the gold, silver, and copper mining project as legal.

“Pakistan has reached an out-of-court settlement with a foreign firm that has agreed to revive a mining project stalled since 2011,” Farah Azeem Shah, Balochistan government spokesperson said. “It is important that the Barrick Gold Company will invest $ eight billion in Balochistan.”

Recently, BGC has paid the first US$ three million (approximately Rs 750 million) to the Balochistan government as part of new Reko Diq partnership.

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After signing definitive agreements and completion of legal process last month, Barrick and the Government of Balochistan recently agreed on timeline for disbursement of committed funds to the province.

The new Reko Diq agreement ensures that the project starts benefitting people of Balochistan through advance royalties and social development funds, well before the mine begins production,

“We’re making sure that Balochistan and its people will see these benefits quickly. Beginning early next year, Barrick will implement a range of social development programs for providing better healthcare, education, vocational training, food security and provision of potable water,” said BGC, CEO Mark Bristow.

BGC’s investment in these uplift projects is expected to be around $70 million over the feasibility and construction periods.

“The people of Chaghi, home of the RekoDiq project, are very optimistic about the district’s future development,” said Ali Raza Rind, a local journalist. “BGC enjoys good repute in Chaghi district due to its previous mineral drilling in the area and has started hiring local people purely on merit.”

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He has urged the authorities to launch vocational and technical education programs for local community so the people are well equippedthem with latest techniques to become a part of RekoDiq project.

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo has also promised to spend Rs 300 to 400 million annually on Chaghi development projects.

It is hoped that joint venture of the government and Barrick Gold Company will usher in a new era of development in Balochistan and the country as a whole. 

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Musadik Malik emphasises adoption of environment-friendly technology for sustainable development

Musadik Malik emphasises adoption of environment-friendly technology for sustainable development

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Musadik Malik emphasises adoption of environment-friendly technology for sustainable development

 Federal Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik underscores the need for embracing environment-friendly technology to ensure sustainable development in Pakistan. 

In a recent address at a ceremony held in Islamabad, Minister Malik highlighted the pressing issue of environmental instability, noting that despite a purported zero carbon footprint, Pakistan was grappling with the adverse effects of climate change. 

He pointed to alarming indicators such as rising global temperatures and increased incidents of extreme weather events, including flash floods in Sindh that have devastated numerous villages, exacerbating food insecurity in the region. 

Acknowledging the dual challenge of environmental and economic instability, Minister Malik stressed the imperative for concerted action to address these issues. 

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He revealed that Pakistan’s total exports stand at $30 billion, with energy exports comprising a significant portion at $20 billion. 

To confront these challenges head-on, Minister Malik announced plans to ramp up petroleum products production, citing its critical role in ensuring energy security and fostering economic growth. 

He outlined various policies aimed at facilitating this increase, including incentivising consortiums for small companies and fostering cooperation with international stakeholders.

Underlining the centrality of energy security to economic development, Minister Malik reiterated the importance of adopting environment-friendly technologies to meet the nation’s energy demands sustainably.

He emphasised the utilisation of national resources as a key strategy in this endeavour.

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Islamabad police register case of armed assault on PTI leader Raoof Hasan

Islamabad police register case of armed assault on PTI leader Raoof Hasan

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Islamabad police register case of armed assault on PTI leader Raoof Hasan

A day after unidentified transgender persons armed with blades wounded PTI leader Raoof Hasan in an attack in Islamabad, police on Wednesday registered a case of the assault. 

The case registered against unidentified transgender persons at the Aabpara police station includes sections related to the charges of attempted murder and death threats. 

According to the first information report (FIR), Raoof Hasan was heading to a parking lot after participating in a TV talk show when he was ambushed by three transgender-like persons. 

The FIR details that these attackers tried to cut his throat with a sharp-edged tool. Hasan suffered a cut in the face when he stepped back in a bid to protect himself, it adds. 

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In the FIR, Raoof Hasan alleged that a similar attack was attempted on him two days back in Islamabad’s Blue Area. 

The PTI information secretary was attacked on Tuesday afternoon by some unidentified transgender persons with a blade in Islamabad’s G-7 area. He suffered a cut in the face.

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JAP urges Punjab governor to return defamation bill unapproved

JAP urges Punjab governor to return defamation bill unapproved

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JAP urges Punjab governor to return defamation bill unapproved

The Judicial Activism Panel has penned a letter to Punjab Governor Sardar Salim Haider Khan, vehemently urging him not to approve the controversial Punjab Defamation Bill 2024 recently passed by the Punjab Assembly. 

The letter, authored by the Judicial Activism Panel, highlighted grave concerns over the Defamation Bill, asserting that its passage by the Punjab Assembly contradicts the principles outlined in Article 19 of the constitution. 

According to the panel, the enforcement of this bill poses a significant threat to the freedom of speech, a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen. 

The panel argued that the implementation of the Defamation Bill would severely restrict the public’s access to vital information, serving as a formidable obstacle to the citizens’ right to information. 

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They emphasised that the bill, if enacted, would curtail the freedom of speech, thereby violating the fundamental right of the citizens.

Expressing apprehension, the letter said the law could potentially be exploited to serve political interests, further undermining the democratic principles upon which the nation is built.

In their fervent plea to Governor Sardar Salim Haider Khan, the Judicial Activism Panel demanded that he refrain from approving the bill and instead return it to the Punjab Assembly without his endorsement.

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