SC declares no mining lease till final decision on Reko Diq

The Supreme Court on Thursday declared that Balochistan Government would not grant mining lease of Reko Diq copper and gold reserves to any applicant till a final decision by this Court.

A four-member bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday resumed hearing of pleas over the award of mining lease of Reko Diq gold and copper reserves in Chaghi area of Balochistan.

The bench in its order said “It is declared that no decision shall be taken by the Government of Balochistan in respect of the grant of the mining lease on the application submitted by any of the parties without prejudice to their legal rights till the decision of the instant proceedings.”

At the outset of proceedings, Advocate general Balochistan Dr Salahuddin Mengal apprised the bench that the provincial government instructed him to make the statement that it had not received any application so far for the grant of mining lease from any of the companies.

He said the provincial government through its competent authority would not take any decision with regard to the grant or otherwise of the mining lease, if applied for during this period.

The bench said it would not dispose of the application, if submitted until the decision of this Court subject to all just exceptions. Similar stand was also taken by Ch. Mazhar Ali deputy attorney general, representing the Government of Pakistan.

The bench also noted in its order that in the interest of justice, it would be appropriate to know the reaction of the respondents whether the Government of Balochistan through its competent authority might postpone its decision of granting mining lease or otherwise to the Companies/claimants of holders of EL-5 or to wait for the result/outcome of these proceedings.

Khalid Anwar, counsel for one of the mining company, stated that as far as the mining lease was concerned, they would submit an application to the Government of Balochistan before February 19 and then it would be upto the Government of Balochistan to take a decision over it.

He said the other counsels associated with him including Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim and Barrister Sajid Zahid would have no objection if an order was passed to the effect that the Government of Balochistan might postpone decision on the application(s) submitted for mining lease till the decision/outcome of the instant proceedings without prejudice to their legal rights.

Further hearing was adjourned till February 8. The bench is seized with hearing of a number of identical pleas filed by Tariq Asad Advocate, Barrister Zafrullah of Pakistan Watan Party and others against award of mining and exploration contract to the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a Canadian consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals, for exploring gold and copper in Reko Diq, in Chagai district of Balochistan.