Barrick Gold Corporation CEO Mark Bristow and Balochistan Chief Minister (CM) Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo announced Tuesday that work on the $8 billion Reko Diq project will start from August 14.
CM Bizenjo stated that the project will help “uplift the province’s economic and social conditions”, calling it “the biggest project” of its kind.
Bizenjo said the project would bring an annual income of $1 billion to the province. Thanking both the “Imran Khan’s former and Shehbaz Sharif’s present federal government for their support and not causing any hindrances”, the CM hailed the project as a much needed opportunity to help “assure the people of Balochistan that their resources would be used in their region and for their benefit”.
He also noted that the engagement of “the biggest mining company in the world” would guarantee “employment opportunities for the people of Balochistan”.
“If trained personnel are not available [in the area], then they will be given trainings as part of the project as well,” he stated.
The Canada-based mining group’s investment in the project – CEO Mark Bristow said that the final agreements between the government and the BGC were currently underway, before adding that under the partnership, the BGC would hold 50 per cent of the share while the remaining half will be split equally between the federal and provincial governments.
He also noted that the Balochistan government will gain royalties and dividends without needing to invest, and that he was committed to “investing in communities”. The project’s goal, said the CEO, was to “preserve Balochistan’s character”, adding that education and trainings would be included in the agreement.
On the occasion, the CEO also said that he and his team felt “very welcome” in the province. He said that while there was a “difficult start” – referring to the long-stalled negotiations that began in 2012 – he was “proud to be part of the solution” that he termed as a “win-win” situation.
It was earlier reported that the mining group has requested the government to get the Reko Diq gold and copper deal stamped by parliament and the Supreme Court for long-term sustainability of the company’s investment in the project
Bristow said that the company was still negotiating the legal framework with the present government and wanted legislation on this deal.
“We want partnership framework conforms to legislation,” Bristow told a press conference in Islamabad. He said they wanted transparency in the execution of the project and that parliament and the Supreme Court vet this deal.