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Local consortium proposes to develop Pakistan copper and gold mine after arbitration case

KARACHI, Pakistan, May 16 (Reuters) - A local consortium has made a proposal to develop a major copper and gold mine in southwest Pakistan after a court decision blocked the mine’s development by a joint venture between Chile’s Antofagasta and Canada’s Barrick Gold.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court blocked the joint venture, Tethyan Copper, in 2013 from developing Reko Diq - one of the world’s biggest untapped deposits of copper and gold - following a court case over how the contract had been awarded.

Pakistan’s government was later ordered by a global arbitration body to pay $5.8 billion in damages after Tethyan Copper took it to court.

The local consortium, National Resources Private Limited, said in a statement on Sunday that it had submitted a proposal to develop Reko Diq and another major copper and gold mine, also in Balochistan province.

“The consortium has proposed (to the) government to develop and implement the Tanjeel reserves as a starter project, followed by development of the vast Reko Diq area reserves,” National Resources Private Limited said.

The Balochistan government said it was studying the proposal, the financial aspects of which were not disclosed.

The local consortium comprises Arif Habib Equity (Private) Limited, Mari Petroleum Company Limited, Liberty Mills Limited, Reliance Commodities (Private) Limited (Fatima group), Y.B. Pakistan Limited (Lucky group) and South Western Mining (Private) Limited.

The federal government has said it is in talks with Tethyan Copper about a settlement after the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in 2019 ordered Pakistan to pay damages of $5.84 billion to Tethyan Copper. The venture had already sunk more than $220 million into the project before the project was blocked.

Work on the mine has stalled since then. (Reporting by Raza Hassan; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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