Pakistan’s Supreme Court has authorised a settlement for Barrick Gold’s plan to resume mining at the long-stalled Reko Diq gold and copper mining project in the country, reported Reuters.
The country’s Supreme Court (SC) declared the out-of-court settlement signed in March 2022 between the Pakistani Government and international firms Barrick Gold and Antofagasta to end a prolonged dispute with Pakistan and restart the Reko Diq mine development.
Barrick will own a 50% stake in the reconstituted gold and copper project while Balochistan’s provincial government and Pakistani state-owned enterprises will each hold a 25% stake.
Antofagasta agreed earlier this year to exit the project to focus on the production of copper and by-products in the Americas.
Pakistan Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the head of a five-judge panel, was quoted by Reuters as saying: “The agreements … have not been found by us to be unconstitutional or illegal on the parameters and grounds spelt out.”
Located in the province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, the Reko Diq project was suspended in 2011 following the rejection of a development licence by the Pakistani Government to Barrick and Antofagasta.
Claimed to host one of the world’s largest undeveloped open-pit copper-gold porphyry deposits, the project is planned to be developed in two phases.
With an initial estimated capital cost of $7bn, the project is planned to start production between 2027 and 2028.
Balochistan Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying: “We have taken decisions with goodwill and courage on all important issues, including Reko Diq.”