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Posts Tagged A Nation Waits For Dividends

Fears grow about Reko Diq Gold mines…Pakistani Nation 180 Million Poor Wait For Dividends, Incompetent Nawaz Sharif & Pals Keep on Robbing



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.


Senator Sana Baloch has made this allegation: “Chinese authorities were assured of getting the world’s richest copper-gold deposit, Reko-Diq, by next year – again without following international transparent norms.” “Shady deals in the name of brotherly relations have deprived the people of Balochistan of any benefits they can get from these resources. Not a single contract has ever been made public,” the angry senator from Balochistan says. “I repeatedly requested details of agreements and contracts signed during the Musharraf regime, but to no avail.”


The Reko Diq issue is awaiting a decision in the international arbitration forums where the Canadian Barrick Gold has filed cases against Pakistan for compensation. These cases may be decided in a few months and involve only a few million dollars but the world mining market is preparing seriously for bidding for the mines in a big way as these companies realize that Reko Diq offers billions of dollars of profits and financial opportunity for the host country.


In one such case, three weeks back the Delloite Finance Corporation of Canada, the single largest professional services organization in the world in 2010, issued a Letter of Interest, through its mining division, to an American mining company preparing for the big tender in a joint venture with a major Australian capital markets investment organization which has at least 10 world class mining companies ready to bid for Reko Diq.


Experts fear that if the Government did not opt for a transparent international tender for Reko Diq, hundreds of billions of dollars may be lost in the coming years just like the Saindak Copper mines where Pakistan did not benefit significantly as General Musharraf first gave the mines to China and then extended the deal for another five years.


No details of what Pakistan gained are available as against the potential and the promises that were made but Senator Sana Baloch says Gwadar, Saindak, the Duddar Lead-Zinc project and several other such deals are a complete mystery for the common Baloch.


He says the multi-billion copper-gold Saindak project is being extracted, without any monitoring in the past 10 years by a Chinese company. “According to official reports, copper-gold worth $633.573m was extracted during 2004-08. The Balochistan government received a paltry two percent share, while half the profits go to Beijing and 48 percent to Islamabad,” he says in an article sent to The News. (see page-6)


For Reko Diq the Supreme Court, although in a veiled reference, guided the Government of Balochistan to hold an international tender like the one held in Afghanistan’s Anyak Copper deposit.


In the Afghan tender, supervised by the World Bank, eight international companies from many countries had contested. It was globally reported that a Chinese company allegedly tried to bribe a Minister in Afghanistan paying him $30 million but was caught.


Experts say if for an investment of up to $20 billion over the next 20 years, the Chinese are handed over the multi-hundred billion Reko Diq mines, in a non-transparent manner, it would be the greatest open and shut robbery and treachery with the country.


By getting what is its right, Pakistan can build many motorways and bullet trains on its own, provided the rulers keep the national interest in mind, says one mining expert.


Shaheen Sehbai
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
From Print Edition




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