CM Raisani was informed that the Geological Survey of Pakistan had promised to extend all help and cooperation, including training facilities and making geographical survey drawing of the project. - Reuters photo

QUETTA: The federal government has agreed to declare Reko Diq gold and copper mining project area as export processing zone and the Balochistan government and the EPZ Authority will sign a memorandum of understanding soon.

Dr Samar Mubarakmand, vice chairman of board of governors of the Reko Diq Project, informed Chief Minister Nawab Raisani about the centre’s willingness during a briefing on the project here on Tuesday. The provincial government had requested the EPZ Authority to declare the project area as export processing zone.

The chief minister, who is chairman of the project’s board of governors, reiterated his government’s stance to run the project on its own.

“Whether we remain in power or not, we will give these great assets to Balochistan and the country as gift,” Mr Raisani said, adding that he and his government had faced immense pressure in efforts to make the stakeholders realise that the people of Balochistan were real owners of the project.

“We rejected all pressures and did not bow down to the forces who wanted to deprive the province of ownership of the Reko Diq project,” Mr Raisani said.

He alleged that some elements had tried to “sell the project at a throwaway price” with the connivance of some vested interests. “But my government has foiled all conspiracies.”

The chief minister said some “international forces” did not want Balochistan and Pakistan to benefit from the Reko Diq project.

Earlier, Mr Raisani approved a proposal for allocating Rs1.8 billion in the next budget for the project and revival of the recruitment committee.

The chief minister was informed that the Geological Survey of Pakistan had promised to extend all help and cooperation, including training facilities and making geographical survey drawing of the project.

Mr Mubarakmand said the authorities concerned were vetting applications for recruiting technical and other staff.

The chief minister said recruitment should be made on merit and local people be given priority.