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Govt, Barrick Gold Settlement Agreement ‘Legal’ In Reko Diq Project: Sc

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The Supreme Court stated that the Reko Diq mining project settlement agreement between Canadian mining company Barrick Gold and the government of Pakistan is legal. 

After a five-judge larger bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court reserved its decision in the presidential reference on November 29, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the 13-page short opinion. 

There is no violation of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision, which declared the first agreement void. The Supreme Court added that the federal and provincial governments reached an agreement based on expert advice and that the Balochistan Assembly was trusted. It also stated that no elected public representatives objected to the agreement. 

The governments of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have passed laws to develop mineral resources, according to the CJP. 

According to the Supreme Court’s decision, there was no illegal clause in the contract, and the Canadian mining company had guaranteed that labour laws would be enforced and that corporate social responsibility would be ensured. 

The bench insisted that the Foreign Investment Bill applied to any company that wanted to invest more than $500 million in the country, not just Barrick Gold. The government sought input on two issues via the presidential reference. 

The first is the agreement with the complainant company, Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), following the Supreme Court’s earlier decision in the Maulvi Abdul Haq case. The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Tribunal ruled in favour of TCC in July 2019, ordering Pakistan to pay a hefty $5.9 billion fine. 

Second: is the proposed Investment Protection Act constitutionally sound? The president questioned whether “the proposed Foreign Investment (Protection and Promotion) Bill 2022 would be valid and constitutional if enacted?” 

If the deal between Barrick Gold and Pakistan is not completed by December 15, the country will face a $100 million penalty. Similarly, the ICC Arbitral Tribunal will award billions of dollars to the country. Before the agreement can be signed, two actions must be taken. 

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