Fears grow about Reko Diq Gold mines…Baloch senator says deal offered to China; government denies – by Shaheen Sehbai ([Pakistan] The News International – August 28, 2013)


WASHINGTON: While major world mining and investment companies are preparing to invest big time, big money in Balochistan, specially in the mining sector, suspicions and doubts that the biggest gold mine of Reko Diq may be quietly handed over to China as part of the growing economic ties are also coming to the fore.

Official and business circles have been wondering for some time what will happen to the multi-hundred billion dollar Reko Diq gold and copper mines after the world’s largest mining company, Barrick Gold of Canada, was thrown out of Pakistan by the Supreme Court of Pakistan during the PPP regime.

But after the recent visit of high level government delegation to China and a flurry of quick MoUs and super-paced exchange of visits, an important leader from Balochistan, former Senator Sana Baloch has alleged publicly that the government has promised these mines to China in a year or so.

While the Government leaders strongly denied any deal or any promise made during the Beijing visit, an official Pakistan Government statement assuring that the Reko Diq mines will be given to the highest bidder in an international tender is still awaited.
Meanwhile as the wait continues, world mining companies are expecting and waiting for Pakistan to float international the tenders inviting bids for Reko Diq and some are ready to offer more than $100 billion in 30 to 35 years, insiders of the mining industry say.

The ousted Barrick Gold had promised less than a billion a year in 56 years but they never shared what they had found during the many years of exploration they did in Reko Diq. What is generally believed is that Reko Diq is bigger than Afghan Aynak mines which were estimated by President Karzai at over $3 trillion.

Sana Baloch’s charge has come amid a frenzy of shuttle economic activity between Islamabad and Beijing. A top level economic delegation led by Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman National Development and Reforms Commission (NRDC) is in Islamabad today and was asked by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal to raise ceiling of Chinese investments in Pakistan to $10 billion from present $3 billion.

The government has been speaking about Chinese investments of between $18 to $20 billion in Gwadar-Kashgar Highway, the bullet train and Lahore-Karachi Motorway in the coming years but what is not yet been explained is how the Chinese will be repaid for these investments.

One form of repayment is now being suspected in the form of handing over the $300 billion plus Reko Diq mines to China on the pattern of the Saindak Copper mines, at almost a throw-away price.

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