Local firms urged to invest in Reko Diq for development of copper, gold mines

LAHORE: The Balochistan government is trying to persuade large Pakistani investors to form a consortium to invest their money in the development of Reko Diq copper and gold mining project, reported Dawn.

“Our first priority is to convince Pakistani companies to invest in this project because neither the provincial nor the federal government has the finances for developing this resource that will prove a game changer for both Balochistan and the entire country,” Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said during an interaction with journalists at the Punjab Governor’s House on Monday.

“The development of the project [for commercial production] requires an initial investment of $3-4 billion, which is in addition to the $6bn awarded by the International Centre for Settle­ment of Investment Disp­utes (ICSID) in July against Pakistan for terminating agreement with the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC).

“We want Pakistani businessmen to put their money in this project because it has the potential to help them grow big and go global,” he asserted. However, he acknowledged that it was near impossible to attract foreign investment for the project at the moment in view of current economic conditions in the country.

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The ICSID, one of the five organisations of the World Bank Group, on July 13 slapped a $4.08bn penalty and $1.87bn in interest — against Pakistan in a case filed by the TCC. The TCC had claimed $11.43bn in damages following the rejection by the provincial government of a leasing request from it. The TCC said it had invested more than $220 million by the time the Pakistan government in 2011 unexpectedly refused to grant them the mining lease needed to keep operating.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s verdict in the Reko Diq case was the first in a series of events that later led to the massive award against Pakistan. The chief minister lamented that “emotional decisions” had brought this on Pakistan and Balochistan.

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