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Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday declared the Reko Diq agreement void and in conflict with the country's laws, DawnNews reported.

In its ruling, a three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, stated that the agreement reached on July 23, 1993 was in conflict with the laws of the country.

The Supreme Court had been hearing the case constituting of identical petitions filed against the federal government’s decision to lease out gold and copper mines in Reko Diq in Balochistan’s Chagai district to the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) — a Canadian and Chilean consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals. Reko Diq sits over the popular Tethyan copper belt and is known to have the fifth largest deposits of gold and copper in the world.

The bench added that all amendments made to the agreement after its signing were unlawful and in contradiction with the agreement.

The court, in the 16-page short order, moreover admitted for hearing the petitions that had been filed pertaining to the agreement.

The bench, in its order, stated that the TCC no longer had any rights in relation to the Reko Diq agreement.

Admitting the petitions filed against the TCC for hearing, the bench ruled that the agreement was in violation of the country's rules and regulations.

Earlier in Dec 2012, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) had given a go-ahead to the Balochistan government and prominent nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand to carry out the mining and smelting project in Reko Diq area. The ICSID had rejected the TCC's demand for ‘provisional measures’ for ‘protecting’ two of its deposit areas.

Cases pertaining to Reko Diq mining lease dispute were being heard in courts for the past five years.