Reko Diq mines: SC seeks record of contract

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked for a complete record of the contracts awarded for the mining of gold and copper and details of exploration licenses issued to foreign companies for Reko Diq.

The four-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, directed the chief secretary Balochistan to appear before the court for as long as the case is being heard along with the record. Former chief secretaries of the province have also been asked to attend the hearings.

“The rights to the Reko Diq mines cannot be leased out or sold by the company according to the law of the land,” Raza Kazim, counsel for Maulana Abdul Haq Baloch (late), contended in court. He said the BHP had entered into a contract for exploration 1996 and in 2006. It later sold its rights to The Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) for $260 million.

“The Reko Diq reserves are part of the nation’s wealth, which cannot be awarded to foreign companies,” the counsel argued. If the mines are leased to foreign companies, they will take 75 per cent of the net profit while the government will get only 25 per cent.

He said the Balochistan government had not produced the application of the mining company, BHP-Billiton which it had filed for the contract of the Reko Diq project, along with its reply.

The court then directed Advocate General Balochistan, Salahuddin Mengal to present BHP-Billiton’s original application for the Reko Diq contract and the record of the license awarded by the government.

The court has also sought the record of an application given by a foreign company in 1992 for obtaining a contract for the exploration and excavation of the Reko Diq mines.

Mengal told the court that he had asked the Director for Minerals to provide the documents.

Kazim said a study conducted in 1961 had revealed deposits of gold and copper in Balochistan but the government did not take steps to exploit them.

TCC’s counsel, Khalid Anwar requested the case be adjourned for a week, which the court declined. If the parties give an undertaking that they will not renew the contract, an adjournment may be granted, the Chief Justice said.

“The company is bound to obtain a valid license by February 19,” said Khalid Anwar. The Chief Justice observed that the bench would try to decide the case by then since the federal and provincial governments are awaiting the judgment.

The court has adjourned the case till today (Thursday).


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