The Reko Diq mine which is expected to contain the world’s biggest untapped copper and gold deposits is currently being fought over in international courts. According to media sources military has become the most important voice on the future of Reko Diq, which it sees as a strategic national asset. The military will not only be in a position to decide which investors develop the deposit, but an army-controlled engineering firm, Frontier Works Organization (FWO), is positioning itself to be a member of any consortium involved.
The development of Reko Diq has long due to a dispute with previous investors in the project, Canada’s Barrick Gold and Chile’s Antofagasta. Barrick Gold and Antofagasta, whose joint venture Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) discovered vast mineral wealth in Reko Diq, say they had invested more than $220 million by the time the Baluchistan government, in 2011, unexpectedly refused to grant them the critical mining lease needed to keep operating. Pakistan argued its move was legitimate because TCC’s feasibility study was incomplete and the country’s Supreme Court voided the deal in 2013. But in 2017 the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled against Pakistan.
The foreign investors are nervous about investing in Pakistan seeing how the country’s authorities dealt with companies which were about to invest $3.3 billion on the development of the country’s biggest mining project.