Pakistan engaged in talks to settle Reko Diq dispute: official

Updated 12 Nov 2020

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A view of Reko Diq fields. — Reuters/File
A view of Reko Diq fields. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is actively engaged in negotiations with parties involved in a dispute over the $5.97 billion award against the country in the Reko Diq litigation.

The government is fully aware and defending the country’s interests, a source privy to the latest developments told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

The reaction came in response to a report issued by Law360 — a website that deals with news reports and analyses about legal issues, including litigation filing, case settlement, verdict, regulation, enforcement, legislation, corporate deals, etc.

The website claimed that the Australian copper mining joint venture has been given the green light to try to collect 50 per cent of the massive July 2019 $5.97 billion arbitral award against Pakistan following a dispute over a rejected mining project, so long as it agrees to repay those funds if the award is annulled.

According to Law360, the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) committee issued the order on Oct 30, saying Pakistan had not obtained an irrevocable bank guarantee or letter of credit for 25pc of the award — a condition laid out by the committee in September for keeping the stay of enforcement in place.

The ICSID tribunal was seized with a dispute between Pakistan and Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) which had claimed $8.5bn for rejecting latter’s application by the Mining Authority of Balochistan for the multimillion dollar mining lease in the province in 2011.

Earlier, Pakistan had taken the plea before the tribunal that the agreement/mining licence at Reko Diq was procured through corrupt means and therefore, the claimant (TCC) could not ask for damages.

However, both the parties — Pakistan and TCC — had met in London in Oct last year and had agreed to remain open for a negotiated out-of-court settlement of the dispute, the sources said, adding that the parties were still engaged with each other and hopeful that the matter would be resolved successfully soon.

The committee, Law360 claimed, terminated the stay of enforcement for 50pc of the $5.9 billion award, which the TCC won last year.

Earlier, Pakistan had welcomed a statement made by William Hayes, the chairman of the board of directors of TCC, in which he had expressed a willingness to work towards a negotiated settlement.

Mr Hayes had stated in his statement that the company remained willing to discuss the potential for a negotiated settlement with Pakistan and will continue to protect their commercial interests and legal rights until the conclusion of this dispute.

Then Pakistan had taken the stand that it had considered the July 12, 2019 press release made by Antofogasta Plc and the statement of William Hayes.

“The government of Pakistan welcomes this approach to work towards a mutually beneficial solution that works for both sides,” adding that it was a responsible state and the government of Pakistan always takes its international legal obligations most seriously.

Pakistan had also stated that the mineral resources in Reko Diq were the collective resource of the people of Balochistan and Pakistan, adding that Pakistan was keen for the development of this resource to ensure that the development needs of some of the poorest people on the planet were addressed.

The TCC is a 50-50 joint venture of Barrick Gold Corporation of Australia and Antofagasta PLC of Chile whereas the Reko Diq district in the southwest of Baluchistan is famed for its mineral wealth, including gold and copper.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2020