Mining licence dispute: Quetta mandated to settle Reko Diq case

Leaves room open for parties to return to apex court in case of disagreement.


Qaiser Zulfiqar May 26, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


The Supreme Court on Wednes­day vacated a stay order on mineral exploration at the Reko Diq gold and copper mine in Balochistan, assigning the final decision on the matter back in the hands of the Balochistan government.


The court asked the Baloch­istan government to decide on the matter soon under the Balochistan Mining Rules of 2002. All pleas regarding the case would remain pending until the matter is resolved.

The Supreme Court decided not to dismiss other pleas to allow the parties to approach the court again in case there is a disagreement over the decision made by the Balochistan government. The court adjourned the case indefinitely.

The mining licence is currently held by the Tethyan Copper Company, an Islamabad-based firm that is owned by Chile’s Antofagasta and Canada’s Barrick Gold Corporation. A constitutional petition was filed by several lawyers, some of whom belonged to Baloch nationalist parties, against the licence being granted to a foreign-owned company. The petition was heard by a three member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

All parties accepted the decision of the three-member bench to empower the government of Balochistan to decide on the issue of licensing for mining in Reko Diq. The court also directed the Balochistan government to submit its decision to the Supreme Court’s registrar office.

Balochistan Advocate-General Amamullah said that government could be changed before the decision-making process was complete. The CJ said that governments may come and go, but decisions are made on behalf of the state.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2011.

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