Balochistan Government endeavors to reconcile with TCC on RecoDick case out of ICSID
By Shehzad Baloch
Situations hint that Pakistan and Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) are getting closed to reconcile about the disputed project RecoDick out of the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), where it is under trial.
In 2013, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared null and void the agreement was signed between Australian Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) and Chaghi Hills Exposition Joint Venture (CHEJVA) in the year of 1993. Subsequently, the BHP sold out the company shares to another anonymous company the TCC (Tethyan Copper Company), which had been operating mining works since 2008 at RecoDick, meanwhile the case was not sued against it at Supreme Court of Pakistan. But later on the case lodged and it was under trial at the Pakistani court, meantime the TCC took the matter to international forum the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and blamed for violation of pact by Balochistan’s authorities. The ICSID did not acknowledge the ownership claim by the company. Aftermath the TCC claimed for company’s deficit relating the investment in the project and that aggregated amount is around the $400 million, this effort had taken it to triumph at the mentioned forum. Presently, the company TCC seems aspiring for patch-up but conditionally that earned profitable from the project is to be given this.
The reliable sources informed, the case is being handled by the Balochistan government and the federal government is urging on provincial authorities for reconcile with TCC out of the International Court. To responding the opposition in parliament, the Chief Minster Balochistan Dr Malik Baloch said that they would not allow for selling a single stone of the RecoDick.
Here question rises, what is RecoDick? It is a small town of District Chaghi where Pakistan conducted nuclear tests. The RecoDick project is under the contentions since its discovery by BHP. In 1993, the caretaker provincial government signed agreement with CHEJVA to explore the entire district Chaghi for minerals. It was the commencing point of administrative authorization by the province Balochistan which contradicted the Pakistan’s interests. The discussed agreement partnered the Company BHP in area’s discovered minerals with share of 75% for next 56 years, whilst the government share was set only 25%, apart the royalty that is only 2%.
After exploration, 14 venues were marked for obtaining possible mineral deposits, where 48 points could be pit and this whole area was named ‘RecoDick Complex’, in the period of 1993 to 1997. At that time, the BHP got license for the exploration of minerals. On the site, 5-EL in lesser depth pit, the gold and copper deposits were discovered. The Pakistan Muslim League’s leader and former lawyer Naeem Awan said, “This was the time, the International Mining Community knew the significance of the RecoDick, and they silently were pursuing their interests”. It was Naeem Awan’s petition, which notified the Supreme Court about the RecoDick. Mr Awan told that from initial point to till now, whatsoever has been done is explicitly robbery and nothing else. He further said, “The people who are ignoring this fact have occupied the key posts and these officials are responsible to protect the Pakistan’s interests.”
Through interviews with proficient and geological literature also informs that in district Chaghi ‘RecoDick’ is situated on ‘Tethyan Magmatic Arc’ belt which is stretched on thousands kilometers from Europe to Magnolia and this strip is known for preserving the rare minerals, globally. In Pakistan, the said strip is beneath the area of Chaghi to North Waziristan.
The American Geological Survey and other institutes of the subject estimated value $1 to 3 billion of this block’s minerals. Some of geologist declared this under estimation of the existing minerals by quantity and quality, because the said assessment is excluding metals which are relating to newly introduced faculties of Science, like Nanotechnology and Semi-conductor Physics. In mentioned conditions and situating near the Sandick, here in RecoDick the gold presence and it exploration is much optimistic. And in this perspective, how agreement was signed by the share of 75/25, even before this on 50/50 base pact was made with notorious Chinese company about Sandick Gold Project? Apart from this, the agreements were made during interim government of Moeen Qureshi and which were how extended till 2008 without any inquiry and reason? This should also be probed that in RecoDick project why did not scrutinized independently? All these questions imply that TCC is also concealing something.
The information given on TCC’s official website; the part of RecoDick 2.2 billion ton is able for mining and in that average 0.53% is copper while the gold quantity is 0.3 gram per ton. And it means, 10 million ton copper and 13 million ounces gold can be extracted from the project. Contrary to mentioned facts, in a report published in 2008 by the geologists of TCC, inform that in RecoDick 18 million ton copper and 32 million ounces gold exist in the area. Hence, the TCC on its website has shown 8 million ton copper and 9 million ton gold, reduced. Even that this under estimation, the RecoDick has position on 10th level in international ranking of mining.
The experts say that profound scrutinize can up the RecoDick on 5th position in the menu of international mining. Why happening so? Answer is; the NL Resources MinCor took over the shares of BHP, which is one among the largest mining companies in world, but this is TCC merely showed off and afterward the said company was obtained by Barak Gold is of jointly the Canadian and Israelis and It is believed this the main propelling source behind the TCC for bringing the Chilean company Antofagasta for the joint venture. The Barak Gold is the largest firm in the world in the sector of mining and this company with Antofagasta got controlled on 75% in RecoDick, and then the Supreme Court intervened in to the matter.
The recent assessments which are considered some accurate, entail that for 40 years the RecoDick’s revenue ought to be $240 to 260 billion which will add the Pakistan’s national GDP $150 billion but the TCC offered $54 billion for 30 years. In the agreement with TCC a clause was including that articulates the raw material could be transfer abroad for refining. Here this provokes misgivings about the agreement with TCC that why the authorities are in haste to sell-out the minerals which can support substantially to state’s deteriorated economy?
Here the genuine heir ‘Baloch’ cannot be seen anywhere in the trade of this immense wealth and on this the entire world fixed its eyes. Some individuals like previous Chief Minister Balochistan Raisani or others who are connived with establishment might be conferred a handful wealth but the nation collectively is starving even being owner of Balochistan land rich with precious minerals, a long coast-line and key strategic position in this region. Only political conscious with a fair system can change the lives of Baloch nation, but this present regime is devoid the mentioned characteristics and never can develop the RecoDick for the nation.