QUETTA: Canadian mining firm Barrick Gold Corpor­ation President and CEO Mark Bristow has said the company has launched initial work on the socio-economic development of Chagai, along with providing employment to the locals.

Barrick, which reached an agreement with the government in March to settle the award against Pakistan, will work on the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project in partnership with the governments of Pakistan and Balochistan.

Mr Bristow, who arrived on Saturday along with his team, met Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, cabinet members, MPAs of different political parties, including opposition leader Malik Sinkander Khan in Quetta and tribal elders in Nokundi.

This was the first such meeting about the Reko-Diq project in which all stockholders were given the opportunity to chat with Barrick’s CEO.

Mr Bristow said this was the first time that the company has met with the public representatives in any country and exchanged views on the project being developed.

In his briefing, he explained that under the agreement, Balochistan’s share would be 25pc without any investment while the company would get 50pc share in the project after working for 40 years.

While linking the agreement to the prosperous future of Balochistan, Mr Bristow said his company will make an investment of $3 billion in the first phase.

He assured the locals that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated in preparation of a new feasibility study for the development of the area.

“A community development committee comprising tribal elders, elected representatives, labourers, youths, and two members each from Balochistan government and Barrick would be formed to suggest socio-economic development in the area,” he said, adding that new ideas would be included in the development and prosperity projects.

He added that the company will also work on education and vocational training and efforts will be made to improve communication links for the betterment of the area.

“We want to work together with the Balochistan government for this project.”

The Barrick CEO said without involving the people the project could not be turned into a success and that’s why people would be directly offered to invest in the project.

“We have a requirement of skilled people for the project but we will also train local people so they can run the project themselves.”

Giving the example of Chile, Mr Bristow said it was the most important country in the sector. “100 years ago, Chile was like Chagai, but today Chile has a significant importance in the field of minerals and we will try to make Chagai equal to Chile in terms of its mineral resources”.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bizenjo said the “historic agreement” was an important development and it will prove to be a gateway for investment in the province.

Mr Bizenjo added the meeting with the MPAs has been arranged so that elected representatives of 10.2m people can be taken directly into confidence regarding the project

“Reko Diq is a great asset of Pakistan and Balochistan and it is our responsibility to provide maximum benefit to the people.”

Meanwhile, the company has estimated to create 7,500 jobs during peak production, while the project will also generate 4,000 long-term jobs.

The company has also invited applications for a number of positions, including Finance Lead, Talent Management Lead, Community Relations Officer, Civil Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Process Engineer, Sampler, Geology Technician, Geotech Engineer, Hydrogeologist, Junior Geologist and Corporate Communication.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2022

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