Reko Diq case: Paris court reserves verdict on TCC plea

Published: October 19, 2014
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PHOTO: EXPRESS FILE

PHOTO: EXPRESS FILE

QUETTA: 

An international court has reserved its verdict in a case related to the Reko Diq copper and gold project, whose mining company – Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) – is seeking monetary compensation for the federal and provincial governments’ ‘breaches of the TCC’s contract and treaty rights’.

The three-judge bench of International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Paris will give its verdict within two months.  The hearing continued for two weeks, during which a team of lawyers from either side appeared before the court, said a source, who was present during the hearing.

International law expert Ahmer Bilal Soofi, Cherie Blair – wife of former Britain Prime Minister Tonny Blair and UK’s Graham Dunning were among the 12 lawyers, representing Pakistan in the case.

The former attorney general Makhdom Ali Khan and renowned American lawyer Donald, as well as 10 other lawyers were representing the TCC in the court.

Five witnesses, including Balochistan’s two former chief secretaries – Ahmed Baksh Lehri and Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammed – former advocate general Amanullah Kanrani and Director Mines and Mineral Samar Mubarkmand recorded their statements.

Balochistan CM Dr Abdul Malik, federal minister petroleum, secretary petroleum, chief secretary Balochistan and secretary mines  appeared before the court.

The Pakistan side stated that federal and provincial governments had not violated any agreement. However, they said, the company, despite retaining ownership of the vast mining land for 20 years, had done nothing for the people of Balochistan.

The lawyers’ team further said that company had finalised a pipeline project from Reko Diq to Gwadar without considering the ground realities of Balochistan. The TCC wanted to take raw material through this huge pipeline project to Gwadar from where they wanted to transport it on ships – a proposition not acceptable to the Balochistan government.

They said the Supreme Court on January 7, 2013 declared the agreement between the TCC and Balochistan Development Authorities (BDA) null and void and based on dishonesty.

The TCC was told that the company had not respected the rules and laws.  The government followed its Constitution when it did not allow the company to obtain mining lease and so the company did not deserve to claim any monetary damages, Pakistani side said adding that even the government did not have the jurisdiction to allow the lease.

On the contrary, the lawyers from the TCC said the company had a right to seek monetary damages. They blamed Pakistan and Balochistan governments for violating the mining rules and international laws by not allowing the company to obtain the mining lease.  The court reserved the verdict after recording the statements from witnesses and hearing arguments of both the lawyers’ teams.   The court will look into the matter and see whether Pakistan had deliberately violated any agreement and whether the company has any right to claim damages. The court will give its verdict within two months.

There will be another hearing, if it is proven that Pakistan had violated any agreement. Then court will see how much monetary damages the company deserves. The TCC in 2013 announced that it would no longer seek the grant of a mining lease at Reko Diq but would instead seek monetary compensation through the international arbitrator.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2014.

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