Barrick Gold is close to a final framework agreement with Pakistan’s government to develop the giant Reko Diq copper-gold deposit, close to the borders of Iran and Afghanistan.
The project, which hosts one of the world’s largest undeveloped open pit copper-gold deposits, has been on hold since 2011 due to a dispute over the legality of its licencing process.
Barrick solved the long-run dispute earlier this year, reaching a preliminary out-of-court deal that cleared the path for a final agreement on how to run the mine and profit-sharing.
Teams from Barrick and Pakistan are currently finalizing the framework agreement, the company said.
“Once this has been completed and the necessary legalization steps have been taken, Barrick will update the original feasibility study, a process expected to take two years,” it said in the statement.
The miner noted that construction of the first phase will follow the study, with first production of copper and gold expected in 2027-2028.
“During the negotiations, the federal government and Barrick confirmed that Balochistan (province where Reko Diq is located) and its people should receive their fair share of the benefits as part of the Pakistan ownership group,” chief executive Mark Bristow said.
Balochistan’s shareholding will be fully funded by the project and the Federal Government, allowing the province to reap the dividends, royalties and other benefits of its 25% ownership without having to contribute financially to the project’s construction or operation.
“It’s equally important that Balochistan and its people should see these benefits from day one. Even before construction starts,” Bristow said.
Finance Minister Ismail said the development of Reko Diq represented the largest direct foreign investment in Balochistan and one of the largest in Pakistan.
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