Balochistan govt to decide leasing of Reko Diq: SC
26 May, 2011
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC), on Wednesday, while withdrawing the stay order in Reko Diq case, recommended to the Balochistan government to decide about leasing of copper and gold mining project to Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (TCCP) on merit.
A three-member bench was hearing the case against leasing of Reko Diq gold and copper deposits in Balochistan, worth over $260 billion, to a foreign exploration and mining company, Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a Canadian and Chilean consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals, by the federal and the provincial governments in violation of the law
The court asked the Balochistan government that without being influenced by the fact that the matter was pending before the apex court, it should decide granting of mining lease to TCCP strictly on merit and in accordance with rules and law of the land, as early as possible. The court directed the Balochistan advocate general (AG) to intimate the SC register about the decision, when it was made.
The CJ said, “No final order is passed. Therefore, now leaving it to the elected government of Balochistan to consider the request of TCCP for a mining lease or otherwise, the court will keep the petitions pending.” During the proceedings, the CJ observed that after the terrorist attack on PNS Mehran, remains of the destroyed planes had not been removed. “We do have petitions against this attack which will be heard soon,” he added.
The petitioners and defence counsels agreed that the Balochistan government should be allowed to decide the matter relating to the issuance of mining licence itself. Raza Kazim, counsel for Maulana Abdul Haque, said: “Whatever the bench has in mind completely meets the ends of justice,” adding, “My client will not be an obstacle as he has nothing against the companies operating in Reko Diq.”
Tariq Asad, another petitioner, said that he had a plan to challenge the Balochistan Mineral Rules, 2002. Khalid Anwar and Fakharuddin G Ibrahim said whatever the court decided would be acceptable to them. Balochistan Advocate General Amamullah Kunrani said that the government would take the decision, but in a light vein questioned what would happen if the government was changed.
The CJ observed that the government changed with the passage of time but decisions were always taken by the states. “Challenges do come and only living nations could handle them with wisdom. Pray for the existence of this country,” he said. The Reko Diq copper and gold reserves, located in Chaghai district of Balochistan, are being developed by Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (TCCP), jointly owned by Barrick Gold Corporation, Canada, and Antofagasta, Chile.
Hearing of the petitions has been continuing since November 2011. The whole case has developed out of a judgment passed by Balochistan High Court, challenged in CPLA No 796 of 2007, and petitions filed under Article 184(3) of the constitution along with the applications of the interveners. The court adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.