QUETTA: Tribal elders of Chagai district have welcomed the signing of an agreement with Canadian company Barrick Gold for the Reko Diq copper and gold mining project, describing the move as a significant step for the development and prosperity of the district as well as Balochistan.

Barrick Gold’s CEO also visited Nokundi along with Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo and met the tribal elders and other stakeholders and informed them in detail about the benefits of the project to the area and the province.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, tribal elders Haji Muhammad Rafique Sasoli, Malik Muhammad Ashraf Hasanzai, Sardar Abdul Hakeem and Mir Haji Ibrahim Mengal said the provincial government had hidden nothing and taken all stakeholders into confidence on the agreement.

Mr Sasoli, who led the tribal elders, said that in 2011 the agreement on the Reko Diq project had been revoked by the Supreme Court and the issue was then referred to an international arbitration court, which imposed a heavy fine on the Pakistan government.

However, after negotiations, the issue was resolved and a new agreement was signed to restart the abandoned project.

He said the company would spend several billion rupees under the head of social development projects in the Chagai district and it would also provide jobs to 8,000 people of Balo­chistan under the agreement.

He said the provincial government’s share in the profit from the project was 25 per cent despite no investment in the project.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2022

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