President Alvi files Reko Diq reference in Supreme Court


President Dr. Arif Alvi, on the advice of Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, on Monday filed a reference in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to get validation for the new Reko Diq project deal under Article 186 of the Constitution.

The government will seek an opinion from the apex court regarding the contract with Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canada-based mining group, in the Reko Diq reference.

Earlier, Barrick Gold Corporation had asked the government to get the Reko Diq gold and copper deal stamped by parliament and the Supreme Court for the long-term sustainability of the company’s investment in the project.

Reko Diq is one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold mines. The project is being restarted after remaining on hold since 2011.

Last month, a federal cabinet meeting was held under the chairmanship of the prime minister, in which the cabinet approved filing the presidential reference to the Supreme Court on Reko Diq.

It said that the government sought opinions on two questions. First, is the deal with the complainant company, TCC, compliant with the apex court’s earlier judgment in the Maulvi Abdul Haq case? Second, is the proposed Investment Protection Act compliant with the Constitution?

The apex committee, headed by the minister for finance and comprising Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (Private) Limited shareholders among others, had agreed to a framework for the settlement and revival of the Reko Diq project in March 2022.

According to the settlement, 50% of the new project’s shares would be owned by Barrick Gold, while the remaining shares would be owned by Pakistan, divided equally between the Centre and the Balochistan government.

The federal government’s share of 25% will be divided equally among three state-owned entities — the 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. As part of the prime minister’s vision for Balochistan, the provincial government’s share of capital and operating expenses for the project shall be borne by the Centre.

The Balochistan government will not incur any expenses in the development of the mines.

In developing the project, nearly $10 billion will be invested in Balochistan, including $1 billion for social uplift projects — roads, schools, hospitals and the creation of technical training institutes for mining. The investment will create over 8,000 new jobs.

The project will also make Balochistan the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the country. To ensure optimal utilisation of the nation’s mineral wealth, the government is also considering setting up a smelter.