Court: Balochistan govt signed Reko Diq agreement without cabinet’s approval: SC told

ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan government informed a three-member Supreme Court bench on Monday that Reko Diq agreement was signed by the provincial governor without prior approval of the cabinet.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed was hearing a set of identical petitions filed against leasing out of gold and copper mines at Reko Diq, situated in Chaghi district of Baluchistan province, worth over $260 billion to foreign exploration and mining companies by the provincial and federal government in violation of law.

Appearing on notice, Advocate General Balochistan Amanullah Kanrani, told the court that Balochistan’s governor had signed the Reko Diq agreement with a foreign company without getting approval from the provincial cabinet.

The Chief Justice then directed the Balochistan government to provide evidence in support of its stance. He said whosoever had violated the law of the land would have to pay for his wrongdoing, adding that no one was above the law.

Concluding his arguments, Advocate General Balochistan stated that the law of the land did not allow awarding of Reko Diq mining lease to the Tethyan Copper Company TCC. To a court query, he said Barrick Gold Corporation and Antofagasta Minerals became part of the agreement without a cogent reason. He contended that Barrick Gold had purchased the file of the agreement at $ 60 million, whereas Antofagasta Minerals had paid $ 140 million for getting file of the agreement.

In his arguments, Ahmer Bilal Sufi, counsel for Balochistan government, contended that land had not specifically been allotted in the Reko Diq lease agreement. “It means, whether the agreement was bogus”, the Chief Justice asked the counsel.

He noted that the agreement’s spirit did not ratify a mining license but simply agreed to the filing of a request for that purpose. He said how a company which was not incorporated in Pakistan could run its business of exploration in the country.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned further hearing till today Tuesday.

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