Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has convened Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting today (Wednesday) to discuss the issues of Reko Diq gold and copper mine along with financial situation of Pakistan Railways.
A Railways official said that the PR high-ups would give briefing on overall financial situation of Railways and chalk out plan for revitalisation of PR. Dr Asim Hussain Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources told Business Recorder that his ministry would request CCI to take up the Reko Diq issue with Balochistan government with the objective to find out a mutually agreed settlement of the dispute between the provincial government and the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) – a Canadian and Chilean joint venture.
He added that on the request of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Senator Ishaq Dar his ministry has forwarded a summary to CCI so that an amicable settlement could be reached, adding that the Balochistan government wanted to go into litigation with TCC at the International Centre for Settlement of Disputes. Pakistan is currently in litigation with TCC at the International Centre for Settlement of Disputes (ICSID) in Washington and is hoping for an out-of-court settlement, said a top Petroleum Ministry official. According to Petroleum Ministry sources there was a threat of one billion dollar penalty from the ICSID, as the Balochistan government was not willing to give the mining rights on lease to TCC.
They said though the provincial government itself was interested in the Reko Diq gold mine reserves, it did not have any capacity/potential to execute the plan. Balochistan government and TTC locked horn in 2009 due to following two issues: (I) the TCC wanted the province to bear 25 per cent of financial obligations according to its share in the project, which the province refused and (II) the TCC was concerned about purported involvement of a Chinese company in the same project. In a letter written to the then petroleum minister Naveed Qamar in September 2009, Pakistan Ambassador to Chile Burhanul Islam expressed worry, saying it was not a good idea to entertain the MCC, a Chinese entity, in the same venture offered to the TCC with all commitments, responsibility, investment and legal claims.
He suggested that the Chinese, if aspiring for a project, could be offered a separate mining site. In a feasibility report submitted to the Balochistan government, the TCC projected a turnover of over $60 billion for the gold and copper project over a span of 56 years. This projection was based on the price of $2.2 per pound of copper and $925 per ounce of gold in 2009.The mine has estimated reserves of 11.65 million tons of copper and 21.18 million ounces of gold.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012