The Chief Minister Balochistan, Nawab Muhammad Aslam Khan Raisani, has said that the provincial government itself will run the multi-billion-dollar Riko Deq copper-gold project in Chagai district.
Talking to newsmen after the Balochistan Assembly session here on Friday, the chief minister welcomed the decision of Ecnec to hand Riko Deq project to the Balochistan government. “Now that we have Ecnec’s approval, we will hire a consultant and a project director to begin the project,” he said.
Balochistan will receive Rs120 billion from the federal government as gas development surcharge arrears. This amount will be spent for funding the Riko Deq project, Raisani said, when asked whether the Balochistan government has enough resources to run the project.
Raisani clarified that the provincial government has not signed any agreement with the Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (Pvt) Limited (TCC) for mining or refining the metal. The firm had been hired solely as an exploration company. The chief minister said exploration charges will be paid to the company. “We will call a third party to estimate the expenditures made by TTC for which the government will pay.”
Raisani emphasised that Gwadar port and Riko Deq project were Balochistan’s assets and no one could take them away from it. “We have the required technical skill to run major projects like Riko Deq and Gwadar,” he said.
Balochistan Institute of Technical Education is training youths who will be able to help run the Riko Deq project, he added. The chief minister announced that the government will soon establish technical educational institutes to overcome the shortage of technical and qualified people.
According to the feasibility report submitted by TCC, initial mine development investment for Reko Deq project is estimated at $3.3 billion (about Rs272 billion) which includes development of basic infrastructure like power, water and concentrate pipelines, roads, and port development. Estimated payable metal production over a 56-year mine life is 22 billion pounds of copper (10 million tons) and 13 million ounces of gold.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2010.