Islamabad December 9 2022: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan declared an agreement signed between the federal and Balochistan governments and two international firms — Antofagasta PLC and Barrick Gold Corporation — in March for the revival of the long-stalled Reko Diq mining project as legal on Friday.
The verdict was announced by a five-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, on a presidential reference that sought the SC’s opinion on whether a 2013 judgement by the apex court prevented the federal and provincial governments from entering into the implementation agreement afresh.
In its 13-page short order issued today, the court observed that the government had entered the agreement after consulting experts, as per court directives, and the Balochistan Assembly was taken into confidence regarding the agreement.
The order stated that the law did not allow agreements on national resources in violation of the Constitution and that provinces could amend laws pertaining to minerals.
Earlier in March, an agreement in principle reached between the government of Pakistan, the provincial government of Balochistan and Barrick in 2022 provides for the reconstitution and restart of the project, which has been on hold since 2011. It will be operated by Barrick and owned 50% by Barrick, 25% by the Balochistan Provincial Government and 25% by Pakistani state-owned enterprises.
The definitive agreements underlying the framework agreement are currently being finalized by teams from Barrick and Pakistan. Once this has been completed and the necessary legalization steps have been taken, Barrick will update the original feasibility study, a process expected to take two years. Construction of the first phase will follow that with first production of copper and gold expected in 2027/2028.