REQO DIK: Tethyan Copper Company plans an initial investment of $3.3 billion in a gold and copper mining project, once the government accepts the feasibility report, which will raise the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 0.5 per cent annually, said a company official.
The feasibility study has been sent to the provincial government of Balochistan and a decision is expected in 90 days, said manager corporate communication Samia Ali Shah on Monday. The initial investment is expected to run operations for four years.
The project is a joint venture between Barrick, Antofagasta and the provincial government. The project was started by BHP Billiton in the mid-90s but was taken over jointly by Barrick and Antofagasta in 2006.
The mine having a life of 56 years will produce 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold annually, said Shah. The mine will be more than three kilometres long and have almost the same depth as the tallest standing building in the world, Burj Khalifa.
The company site holds reserves of 2.2 billion tons of gold and copper.
The site with the fourth largest copper reserves is an hour’s drive away from both Afghanistan and Iran’s borders.
The operation would need at least 160 megawatts of electricity which will be covered by establishing a power plant with a capacity of 189 megawatts.
The feasibility phase will be followed by the construction phase which will need manpower of 10,000 skilled and unskilled labourers, said Shah.
An accommodation town will be built 10 kilometres away from the mine site for the labourers with all the basic facilities, added Shah.
The company in its feasibility study collected over 5,000 samples from an area spread over 13,000 kilometres.
We are committed to hire all the unskilled labour from Chaghai district, the closest town to Reqo Diq, said Shah. Furthermore, over $10 million has been earmarked for community development.
The goods will be brought by a 682-kilometre underground pipeline to Gwadar Port for export purposes, said senior project geologist Asadur Rehman.
The commodities will be sold to buyers at the current prices on the London Metal Exchange, the official informed.
Security is maintained by Frontier Corps along with private guards, according to health and safety trainer Mukhtar Baloch.
The area under consideration for mining runs in the Tehtyan belt, said the company official. The Thetyan Belt is a major mineralised zone that extends across central and southeast Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, through the Himalayan region into Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Expenses are expected to go up far beyond the initial cost as high-tech vehicles for drilling will be bought costing up to $31 million each.
Energy-efficient modern techniques will be used for grinding which untill now is used only by two or three plants.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2010.