QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, while defending a recently signed agreement on the Reko Diq copper and gold mining project with a Canadian company, has disclosed that a Saudi Arabian firm would set up a refinery in Gwadar to assess the quantity of minerals extracted from the site.
“I have taken all political leaders, parties and public representatives into confidence before signing the Reko Diq project, which will prove a gateway for foreign investment in Balochistan as [Canadian firm] Barrick Gold Corporation will invest $10 billion,” he said during an interaction with senior journalists and newspapers editors at Chief Minister House on Friday night.
He said the agreement clearly mentioned it “would be cancelled if the [Canadian] company failed to start work within three years at the site allotted for exploration and mining.”
Mr Bizenjo said that despite various hurdles and difficulties, it was the best possible agreement. “Five months were crucial and very difficult in which there has been a fear of the governor’s rule in the province,” he said, adding that all political leaders have appreciated our efforts and said that we had made a big contribution to the province.
He said that under the new agreement, Balochistan’s share in the project would be 25 per cent without any investment by the province. Other financial benefits, including royalty taxes, were also part of the agreement.
He said that Barrick Gold would pay a royalty to Balochistan immediately while the company would spend Rs40 billion to develop the area under social responsibility.
He claimed that former chief minister Jamal Kamal Khan was dealing alone with the authorities concerned to restart the Reko Diq project without taking anyone on board, including even the chief secretary, finance secretary and other officials.
Mr Bizenjo said that under the Reko Diq project, an area of 100 square kilometres had been allotted for 100 years to Barrick Gold, while the government would be free to approach other companies for other areas.
He also talked at length about the political situation and on other issues, including a no-confidence motion against him. He said he was not worried about such rumours and added that if someone had the support of the members, he should file a motion in the assembly.
Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2022