ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has demanded a fair probe into a controversial deal between the government and various international firms to acquire reserves of gold, copper and silver in Balochistan.
PML-N, the largest opposition party in Senate, demanded probe into reserves of gold and silver at a time when an international firm, which was awarded a contract claimed $5 billion on account of damages.
The firm sought help from international arbitrators to receive damages from the government of Pakistan, which according to the company, had violated the agreement.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Ishaq Dar said, “There is some kind of fishy dealing in the agreement in Reko Diq and Saindak projects. We demand a fair probe in the whole deal, which now may cost billions of dollars to the national kitty.”
Dar questioned during the session, “Who is responsible for this shady deal on state’s natural resources?” He added that the issue must be discussed in the meeting of Council of Common Interest (CCI).
Tethyan Copper Company, a joint venture between Chile’s Antofagasta and Canadian Barrick Gold projected that the mine would produce at least $60 billion based on the long-term copper and gold prices of $2.2/pound and $925/ounce, respectively.
It had also estimated that the mine would be worth almost $120 billion, with Balochistan getting a quarter’s share after operating costs are recovered.
Advisor on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain informed the House that discoveries of gold and silver have been reported from various parts of the country including Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
There are estimated 1,339 tons in reserves of gold in Saindak and Reko Diq projects. The reserves of gold in Saindak are 63 tons while over 74,707 tons reserves are silver in it, Dr Hussain told the House. The reserves of gold in Reko Diq project are above 1,275.7 tons while silver reserves could not be quantified so far, he added.
Dr Hussain said, “No work is going on there as the international firms and Government of Pakistan went into litigation in various courts.”
The Senate was informed on Friday that the government of Pakistan had imposed a ban on setting up of new CNG stations in the country on February 6, 2008, but the band was lifted for establishing new CNG stations in Balochistan on August 8, 2008 which was again imposed by the government on October 4, 2011.
Advisor on Petroleum and Natural Resources Senator Zahid Khan said that the period when the ban was lifted, 38 CNG stations were set up in Balochistan.
Reponsing to a question, the advisor clarified that Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has not issued any Term Finance Certificates (TFC) to raise funds to tackle the circular debt.
Khan said that efforts to resolve the circular debt were being done for quite some time. In this regard, Ministry of Water and Power had submitted a summary to Economic Coordination Committee proposing partial resolution of power sector circular to the TFC to be floated by Pakistan Electric Power Company (Private) Limited (PEPCO) or the Power Holding (Private) Limited for Rs82 billion.
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