Pakistani government and Barrick Gold officials at the signing ceremony. Image Credit: Twitter via @PTIofficial

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday witnessed the signing ceremony between the Government of Pakistan, the Government of Balochistan and Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada after successfully resolving the longstanding dispute with Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) concerning the development of copper and gold mines in Chagai, popularly known as the Reko Diq dispute.

A new agreement was signed by representatives of the federal and Balochistan governments with a delegation of Barrick Gold, led by CEO Dr. Mark Bristow.

As per the terms of the new agreement, the Reko Diq project shall be revived and developed by Barrick Gold in partnership with Pakistani entities.

To develop the project, nearly $10 billion will be invested in Balochistan, including $1 billion that shall be invested in projects such as roads, schools, hospitals and the creation of a technical training institute for mining. The investment shall create over 8,000 new jobs.

The new project company will be owned 50 per cent by Barrick Gold. The remaining 50 per cent shareholding shall be owned by Pakistan, divided equally between the federal government and the provincial government of Balochistan.

The federal government’s 25 per cent shareholding shall be divided equally among three state-owned entities: Oil and Gas Development Corporation Limited (OGDCL), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and Government Holdings Pakistan Limited (GHPL). Balochistan’s share shall be held by a company wholly owned and controlled by the provincial government.

The government of Balochistan’s share of capital and operating expenses for the project shall be borne by the federal government, and the provincial government will not incur any expenses in the development of the mines.

This project will make Balochistan the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in Pakistan.

The agreement was reached after several rounds of negotiations over the last three years. In August 2019, the Prime Minister had set up a committee to steer the negotiations with an aim for early development of the mines. In this effort, the federal and provincial governments were assisted by international advisors.