Reko Diq contains no strategic mineral other than gold and copper, SC told.

ISLAMABAD -- The Reko Diq mining site in Balochistan's Chagai district didn't contain rare-earth elements or strategic minerals other than copper and gold, although the government would still benefit from them if they were ever found out, the Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday.

In-depth studies conducted at the cost of $240 million and spanning over 10 years suggest that the exploration site had no precious minerals other than gold and copper, the counsel for the Canadian company working on the mining project told the top court.

However, the proposed agreement on the reconstitution of the mining project still contained detailed provisions suggesting how to sell and distribute those minerals, explained senior counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan, who represents Barrick Gold Corporation, during a hearing of a presidential reference on the Reko Diq issue before a five-judge bench.

Barrick Gold ended a long-running dispute with Pakistan earlier this year and would now start to develop one of the world's biggest gold and copper mining projects. The project was suspended in 2011 after Pakistan denied Barrick Gold and Chile's Antofagasta a licence to develop it.

If such elements are discovered, govt can get hold of them free of cost, says Barrick Gold counsel

The counsel told the court that if elements other than copper and gold were found, the government would have the option to buy it from the smelter at the market price. However, in case any strategic mineral was excavated, Pakistan would be entitled to acquire such metal free of cost.

Elaborating on the expense details of the project, the counsel said the company would build a road from the project site to a nearby Nok Kundi town at its expense, whereas the government parties would maintain the existing roads and the new ones being built.

The company will take care of the property and the people working on the project, whereas the government will be responsible and pay for the security of the district, the province and the country.

All land acquired will be paid for by the project company, which will also finance the construction of a 680-kilometre-long slurry pipeline to move ores. On its part, the government will facilitate the process.

The counsel said the agreement with the government was a fair arm's length transaction - a kind of deal in which all parties act independently and in their self-interest.

He added that the authority of the Balochistan cabinet to enter into negotiated agreements...

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