ISLAMABAD – On Friday, the Supreme Court declared a new agreement between the Pakistani government and a Canadian company regarding the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project in Balochistan legal.
An opinion on a referral sent by President Arif Alvi was released by a five-judge panel of the supreme court, which was presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial and included Justices Ijazul Ahsan, Muneeb Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, and Jamal Khan Mandokhel.
The president had inquired of the supreme court regarding the legality of a new Reko Diq project agreement in light of both the Pakistani Constitution and international arbitration.
Prior to ending a protracted dispute with Pakistan in March of last year and resuming work on the mining project under a new agreement, the Canadian company Barrick Gold requested that the federal government seek approval from the SC and the Parliament to protect the company’s investment in the project.
The ruling of the Supreme Court will spare Pakistan from an $11 billion fine and other liabilities imposed by a World Bank arbitration court. Additionally, it would pave the way for a massive $10 billion investment in the project by Barrick and its partners.
In its succinct ruling, the supreme court noted that the government had signed the agreement after consulting with experts and taking the Balochistan Assembly into confidence.