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TCC lease not extended due to absence of certificate, SC told

27 November, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed on Monday that one of the reasons for not extending the leasing licence to the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) was the absence of an environmental protection certificate in the Reko Diq project.

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed on Monday that one of the reasons for not extending the leasing licence to the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) was the absence of an environmental protection certificate in the Reko Diq project.

Balochistan Advocate General Amanullah Kinrani told this to a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The bench is hearing a petition by Dr Abdul Haq Baloch – seeking a restraining order against the federal as well as the Balochistan governments from participating in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC), which were seized with disputes between Pakistan and the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) for not renewing prospective Reko Diq Minerals License in accordance with Balochistan Mining Rules 2002.

The TCC - a Canadian and Chilean consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals formed to explore gold and copper - had invoked the jurisdiction of the ICC and ICSID for not extending the mining license.

Earlier, a woman representative from District Chagai (Balochistan) appearing before the bench accused TCC for poisoning and endangering the local environment by mining the Reko Diq area without adopting safety precautions.

Reko Diq is a small desert town in Chagai District that sits over the popular Tethyan copper belt and known for having fifth largest deposits of gold and copper.

Rubina Shah, who claimed to represent one of the oldest tribe of the area called Syed Nizamuddin Blla Noshi Notani, accused the mining company for poisoning the grazing area meant for the cattle herds by using cyanide for smelting process to separate gold from copper. “People are getting sick and cancer is widespread,” she told the bench.

Rubina also warned that the people would not allow the loot and plunder of the national wealth.

“They have maintained their presence in the area for the last two decades and have built state of the art airstrip and access roads but not a school or hospital for the benefit of the locals,” she alleged.

She also said that not a single resident of the area had been given job, “as a result our youth were jobless and poverty stricken but watching the plundering of the mineral wealth of Balochistan”.

“We are not against foreign investment but the people of the area should also benefit from the exploits of their lands,” she said.

She said that she was forced to raise her voice in the court in disregard of the tradition of her tribe where woman were not allowed to speak over such issues.

She acknowledged that few jobs were given to the supporters or workers of the PML-Q and alleged that the agreement was signed during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf in which the interests of the locals were never considered.

Meanwhile, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed repeatedly asked Khalid Anwar who was representing the TCC why was the company claiming mining rights over additional 12 deposits spreading over 99 km of area when they have submitted feasibility studies of only two deposits namely H-14 and H-15.

Anwar argued that the Balochistan government had cancelled TCC's mining licence without hearing their point of view. He said that provincial government was not implementing the Supreme Court's order in target killing case

The CJP said that target killing was on the rise in Balochistan, but no one was doing efforts to eliminate it, adding that the federal government was not fulfilling its responsibility under Article 148 of the constitution in this regard.

The CJP observed that no one is safe in this country except criminals, because no one has courage to arrest or register a case against such people. He also expressed dissatisfaction over the Balochistan government for suspending 70 doctors in the province.

End.


 
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