QUETTA: The Balochistan government has denied any secret agreement with any foreign firm on Reko Diq copper and gold reserves, saying it had no intention to make any such agreement.
A spokesman for the Balochistan government issued a lengthy statement on Monday quoting the provincial chief minister as saying that Reko Diq in particular and mineral wealth in general remained a provincial matter before and after the 18th Amendment.
“The provincial government reserves the right to defend the legitimate interests of the people of Balochistan,” the spokesman said, and added, “There is no need of any arbitration.”
Explaining the position of the provincial government with regard to publication of news and comments in a section of the press, he said mineral and natural wealth was the sole property of the people, and the provincial government would continue to defend this right at all costs, come what may.
“The natural wealth is the property of the people of Balochistan and the government is the guardian of those resources which will be utilised in the best interest of the people,” he said.
The spokesman reiterated that the provincial government would not enter into any agreement with any company on Reko Diq copper and gold reserves, which goes against the interest of the people of Balochistan.
“The interests of the people of Balochistan are dear to us. It will not accept any pressure from any quarter, both internal and external, on this issue,” he added.
With regard to the feasibility report on the project, he said the provincial government was reviewing it and had certain reservations.
“The impression that the data is with some personalities of the provincial government is wrong and misleading,” he categorically stated.
He said the provincial government would establish its own smelter and refinery for which plans were being prepared. “After this process, it is out of question that the project will be handed over to any company for exploring the copper and gold resources,” the spokesman stated. The Balochistan government had already constituted a board of governors under the chairmanship of Samar Mubarakmand and the provincial government had also allocated Rs 2 billion for the project during the current fiscal year. The federal government had also earmarked Rs 8.5 billion for this purpose, he added.
Referring to mining rules, he said no one could take the mineral resources out of the province in a raw form. He quoted Section 48 (D) of Rules of 2002, which empowers the Balochistan government to cancel any mining licence if it is not in the interest of the people.
The spokesman quoted the chief minister as saying that the government will pay all the expenses of the company incurred on exploring minerals. He requested the media not to make the issue controversial, as the matter was sub-judice.