Saindak copper-gold project to be closed in 2021, warns MRDL chairman

Govt has yet to issue exploration Licence for East Ore Body development


​ Our Correspondent September 28, 2019
Labourers busy processing copper ore at Saindak copper-gold project in Chagai. PHOTO: EXPRESS

SAINDAK: MCC Resource Development Limited (MRDL) Chairman He Xuping warned closure of Saindak copper-gold project in 2021 if Balochistan government refused to issue exploration Licence for East Ore Body development included in the mining lease of Saindak Metals Limited (SML).

Talking to media persons visiting Saindak copper-gold project, Xuping said that the Licence was included in the mining lease of SML. “The estimated deposits in East Ore Body would be around 278 million tons and its age is over 19 years,” said Xuping.

Deposits in South and North Ores body in Saindak are continuously depleting leaving least chances to remain the ores after 2021 to continue the project.

MRDL chairman said that the company had applied thrice to the government for the exploration Licence.

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Initially, the company had applied for the exploration Licence in 2012 but the authorities concerned did not take any decision. Along with the relevant documents and technical reports, another application was submitted with the Mines Department in the same year.

“The company sent the third application in the current year in September for another Ore body close to the North Body,” said Xuping.

Besides the chairman stressed the need for new equipment and machinery if the government grants exploration Licence for developing Eastern Ore Body because the current machinery has completed its age.

Briefing the employees working on the project and their origin, Xuping said, “Currently, 1,915 employees work on the projects in different sectors out of which 1,669 are Pakistani. 14 and 56 workers hailed from Nushki and Chagai districts of Balochistan.”

The chairman added that the closure of project will risk the jobs of Pakistani associated with it.

The provincial government has yet to take the decision on the application by the company instead a number of years have passed, said Xuping.

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Xuping said, “Under Corporate Social Responsibility, an amount of $5.5 million was paid to Balochistan government and another payment of over Rs8.48 billion will be paid till the end of 2019 as royalty.”

He said that for the last decade, the development of MRDL increased the economic growth of Balochistan in multiple ways. The company has contributed $43 million in tax and profit dividend by the end of June 2019 solving the fiscal dilemma of Pakistan, Xuping added.

“MRDL has also contributed to the local purchase of various commodities of nearly $1 billion,” the chairman said.

Briefing the ore exploration and revenue generation, Xuping said that the project processed more than 70 million tons of ore, produced 240,000 tons of blister copper and achieved sales revenue of $2.1 billion by the end of 2018.

“The profit of Pakistan government through tax was $437 million by the end of June 2019,” he said.

Sharing the payment amount to Saindak Metals Limited, Xuping said that the company paid $302 million to SML for its share of profit; MRDL has paid rent amount to $7.7 million to SML; the company has also paid presumptive tax of $2.2 billion.

Besides, the company paid export processing zone surcharge amount to $1.06 billion and income tax of Rs5.9 billion.

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The chairman also stressed on the local manpower employed in the company. “Out of 20 important places, only four spots have Chinese workers,” he said.

Xuping added that the recruitment of employees is according to international law and regulation.

“Only those employees lost jobs who had violated rules and regulations of the employment,” MRDL chairman clarified.

He added that the company paid allowances and incentives to all employees without any discrimination.

“The company pays extra salary of a month every year to all employees,” he said.

Talking about other facilities provided by MRDL, Xuping said that the company established hospitals and schools for local people along with supplying electricity to six villages. Besides, it has also made arrangements for water supply to nearby villages.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2019.

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