ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed authorities to ensure foolproof security for workers of the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project and for the logistics and transport from the project’s site to Gwadar port.

Mr Sharif issued the directive while chairing a meeting on the Reko Diq project in Lahore, the PM Office said in a statement on Sunday.

A delegation from the Canadian mining company working on the project, Barrick Gold, led by its CEO Mark Bristow, participated in the meeting via a video link.

The prime minister said consultations with all stakeholders regarding the project at the official level should be held and all the obstacles should be removed.

Seeks feasibility report on road, rail link between mine and Gwadar port

He said planning should be initiated to improve the communication infrastructure, especially railway lines, to utilise the minerals of Balochistan. He said work to upgrade roads to connect the Reko Diq project with Gwadar port should be completed as soon as possible.

Wherever new roads were being constructed, the pace of construction should be increased, he added.

The premier said a strategy should be formed to determine the feasibility of a rail and road network from Reko Diq to Gwadar port.

He stressed that the railway line project from Reko Diq to Gwadar would make access to the port short and easy, and the distance would also be less than from Bin Qasim port.

The new railway line would benefit the mineral-rich district of Chagai and the mining industry would expand, he said and sought a detailed briefing next week on the Reko Diq road and rail connectivity project.

He also instructed that all hurdles should be removed at the official level for early completion of the environment and social impact assessment regarding the Reko Diq project.

The meeting’s participants were informed that the feasibility of the Reko Diq project would be completed by December this year.

Every month, 6,000 containers would be transported from the Reko Diq project to the port. The concentrate pipeline of the project would be the second-longest slurry pipeline in the world. Besides, the mining company would build the link road from Reko Diq to the N-40 National Highway.

The meeting was told that the 103-kilometre Nokandi to Mashkhel road, which would connect Reko Diq to the Gwadar port, was 58 per cent complete.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Muha­mmad Aurangzeb, Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik, Planning Comm­ission’s Dep­uty Chairman Muhammad Jehanzeb and high-level officials.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2024

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