Recent confirmation of vast new mineral deposits, an estimated trillion dollars worth spread in all parts of war-torn Afghanistan, has sparked interest in conducting a comprehensive aerial geological survey in Pakistan.
Significant deposits of copper and gold (Saindak and Reko Diq in Balochistan), zinc and lead (Lasbella, Balochistan), a new gas field (Nawabshah, Sind) and coal (Tharparkar, Sind) have been confirmed in recent years by Geological Survey of Pakistan and Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation in collaboration with mining firms from Australia, China and other nations. Reko Diq alone has estimated reserves of two billion tons of copper and 20 million ounces of gold. The value of the deposits has been estimated at about $65 billion. Based on preliminary data, a nation-wide aerial survey can be helpful in finding significant additional mineral resources in Pakistan.
The conventional exploration methods historically used by geologists have essentially relied on sturdy boots, picks, hammer, shovels, binoculars, an all-weather writing pad and a geographical map of the area to be explored. Advanced remote sensing technology, with gravity, magnetic and hyper-spectral sensors, used by American geologists in Afghanistan flying in US Navy's P3 Orion submarine-hunter aircraft and WB-57 high-flying spy planes has now transformed this process of geological resource mapping. This was at least partly motivated by the lack of roads and dangerous security situation that currently exists on the ground in Afghanistan.
Dr. John Brozena, the Chief Scientist of US Naval Research Laboratory, participated in the Afghan aerial prospecting missions. He described the effort to Ira Flatow, the host of NPR Science Friday, as follows:
" There were two separate (Afghan) airborne surveys during 2006. Ours was in a P-3, a naval aircraft, a research-configured P-3, and our was at sort of 20,000 to 30,000 feet. The second aircraft, equipped with different sensors, was flown at about 50,000 feet. That was the WB-57.
So there's information from several programs between those two aircraft. But what you need to think about when you're looking for all these minerals or thinking about all these minerals is that geologists fuse information from every source that they can get.
So a great deal of this information came from old Soviet maps. You may have heard that the workers within the Afghan Geological Survey, during the time of the Taliban occupation or control of the country, hid the maps that were made during the Soviet period and brought them forward and gave shared them with U.S. Geological Survey, who then worked with us and the WB-57 folks to put together airborne surveys to supplement the on-the-surface maps...
And so when you're thinking of how you would go about looking for all these minerals or finding them, it's really a combination of every piece of information you can integrate, and we've contributed to one part of that....
...our sensors system - and we had a very large group of sensors on the P-3, these I should mention these are former submarine chasers. It was their primary function in the Navy at the time, and the Naval Research Laboratory and its - the Navy Scientific Development's Squadron 1, VXS-1, have a couple of P-3s that are stripped out of all their military hardware, all the sensors for submarine warfare, and all the weapons systems have been removed. And they've been turned into research trucks that can carry lots of different kinds of equipment.
We had gravity, magnetics, hyper-spectral let's see, what else...
A gravity sensor detects variations in mass, local mass variations, which could be either density or amount, like a mountain. And so if you take a topographic map and try to remove the topographic variations, you're left with a good estimate of the density variations in the earth beneath you.
And that's related to both the combination of geologic structure and the materials that are in the area, and that's one type of remote sensing. It's not definitive. You have to calibrate against some ground truth. You have to integrate that information with other things. But knowing the regional densities and density variations tells you quite a lot of information.
The gravity is used primarily for sedimentary basins, looking for oil and gas, as opposed to minerals. You've been hearing in the newspaper about minerals possibly in Afghanistan. ...
The gravity sensor is more appropriate and it was onboard the aircraft looking for sedimentary basins. And in fact, we there were known sedimentary basins around Afghanistan, and what we did was define their extent and their geometries. And there are a couple that look fairly perspective, that the USGS is working on, trying to come up with estimates of potential oil and gas within Afghanistan. And they may have a fair amount of gas and even perhaps a bit of oil...
the gravity does contribute something, because if it gives you the real - the regional geologic context, the folding and faulting and things like that that are important for mineralization.
Then the next primary sensor that would be used would be the magnetics, which, from its sound, detects the variation in the magnetic field locally, around space. And that tells you about a lot about the minerals or the materials that are in the area.
It there's different amounts of magnetic field that are associated with different types of materials, and in combination with the gravity and the ground truth, again, it's a good way to do initial searches for either likely areas for minerals or direct detection.
In the case of something like iron ore, it has a huge magnetic signature directly, and so you can actually see the extent of an ore deposit if you get close enough to it.
One of the problems we had was flying at 20,000 to 30,000 feet. We're a long ways away from some of those things, so their signatures are attenuated. But in the case of a very large ferrous metal deposit, it's you still pick up signatures...
Well, hyper-spectral imaging, if you think of a normal camera as dividing the visual spectrum into three colors, red, green and blue, and then mixing them to make the various colors that you see on a photograph, a hyper-spectral imager divides into many more colors, essentially, many more bands.
The one that we were using on the P-3 divided visual range plus a little bit of the infrared into 72 bands. And so you're looking for emissions, or lack of emissions within each of those bands. And those are diagnostic of, again, materials. But the thing here is you're looking only at the surface. It's you can only see what's on the surface with any type of imaging like that, and...
It's continuing. Rampant Lion is a developmental project at the Naval Research Laboratory that's not particular to platform or sensors. It's a way to put together multiple sensors on whatever platform's appropriate for a particular problem.
So we've operated in Colombia, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're hoping to operate in the future with other countries, as well, and we have quite a lot of interest in different places in Africa and...
The "other countries" referred to Dr. Brozena apparently include Pakistan, at least according an April 2010 story in Pakistan's Business Recorder newspaper.
Quoting "reliable sources", the Pakistani paper reported on April 2, 2010, that "Pakistan has turned down United States (US) offer of aerial geological survey to explore natural reserves due to security concerns". The story said that the "US was explicably not ready to share the data with Pakistan collected through aerial geological survey, .... Pakistan has accepted Chinese assistance to conduct a comprehensive scientific geological survey of Pakistan, which will be helpful in exploring oil, gas and mineral reserves. According to sources, Defence Ministry has supported the proposal to involve Chinese Geological Survey (CGS) for geosciences co-operation".
As Pakistanis hope to discover new mineral wealth by renewed focus on exploration, I think it is important to remind everyone that Pakistan's most important resource is its people. While the country's anticipated deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, gold, oil, gas and coal can help generate significant revenues, it is important to ensure that the bulk of additional new revenue is invested in education and healthcare to develop the nation's human resources for its future well-being.
Remote Sensing Oil and Gas Fields in Pakistan
Pakistan's Mineral Yearbook 2005
US, NATO Fighting to Stalemate in Afghanistan
South Asia Slipping in Human Development
Abundant, Cheap Coal Electricity in Pakistan
Here's a blog post by Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant US Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, on U.S. and Pakistan collaborating on Science and Technology:
As part of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue initiated in March by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi, I recently led the U.S. delegation to the Science and Technology Working Group in Islamabad, June 8-9. The two-day meetings discussed three areas where our two governments could increase collaboration: enhanced science and technology cooperation, enabling the science and technology enterprise, and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.
It was encouraging to hear the Working Group specifically agree on building upon ongoing joint research and ways to highlight new knowledge that can improve social conditions and enhance economic opportunities. Working Group members also agreed to explore building the capacity of academic institutions and transferring technology from the lab to the private sector, while emphasizing the need to share successful models of innovation and entrepreneurship.
One of the most memorable experiences during my visit was attending an exhibition featuring 38 Science and Technology research projects funded through the Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program. I also had the privilege of visiting Pakistan's National University of Science and Technology, where I met with researchers who are conducting studies on climate change, finding innovative ways to use telemedicine to improve disease surveillance networks, and designing improved search engines.
The Science and Technology Working Group meeting was the first of the 13 Strategic Dialogue Working Group sessions taking place this month in Pakistan. Other Working Group topics include: law enforcement, energy, water, economics and finance, market access, defense, health, women's issues, and agriculture. I am inspired and encouraged by our Science and Technology discussions as they are addressing some of the most pressing environment, science, technology, and health issues facing Pakistan today, and building strong partnerships between our Science and Technology communities. The U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue represents the shared commitment of both nations to strengthening the bilateral relationship and building an even broader partnership based on mutual respect and mutual trust.
US already has enough info about the geological formations and minerals in Pakistan. Actually a Landsat receiver was setup in Islamabad (1970s)but the data sharing was bandwidth limited and therefore was of not much use.It was all a show and tell about the benevolence of US in helping underdeveloped nations...
Discovery of uranium deposits by desi geologist was a big disappointment for keepers of the knowledge.
Pakistan needs to become more active in extraction of minerals and find a political solution to mess in Baluchistan in order to move forward...
Here's a recent news report in Asia Times about Reko Diq development contract:
KARACHI - Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), which is battling to keep control of the multi-billion dollar Reko Diq copper and gold project in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, says it is still in talks with officials after moves by the provincial government to cancel its US$3.2 billion development deal with the company.
Local analysts fear that scrapping the deal with international miners would send a bad signal to prospective foreign investors interested in poverty-stricken but resource-rich Balochistan. Foreign firms in the oil and gas sector have already left the province due to security concerns, as bomb blasts, targeted killings and attacks on public installations and security personnel have become routine in the insurgency-hit province.
Still, while Baloch nationalists have expressed reservations over the Reko Diq project, no attacks on workers or the site have been reported since 2000. The nationalists have argued that they are not against the development of the province, but are merely striving to protect its legitimate interests.
Some analysts argue that scrapping the Reko Diq contract will not help improve the situation in the province, as the nationalists' grievances are against the federal government, not against foreign firms or investors. An agreement with any firm that guarantees the protection of the province's legitimate interests, would be acceptable to the local people.
The United States has urged Islamabad and the provincial government to stand behind their agreements with international companies, pointing out that the cancellation of the Reko Diq contract would cost the country the planned $3.2 billion investment in one of its most backward and least-developed regions.
There must be something in the Baluchistan/Frontier area that someone is interested in!
Ras: "There must be something in the Baluchistan/Frontier area that someone is interested in!"
I think the importance of Balochistan is not just about its mineral riches, which are speculated to be large. Reko Diq alone is $65 billion worth. I think it's more about geopolitics and access to the Arabian sea, and location of Gwadar so close to the Strait of Hormuz that it can be a choke point for the world's critical hydrocarbon supply chain.
The growing US interest in the region is not because of war on terror. There are many other things that concern the US and EU. It is correct to conclude that the deposits found in Afghanistan have been the cue for presence of so many around us and growing interest in Balochistan.
A recent Ruters' blog post asks the provocative question: "Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?"
Here's the text of the post:
Baluchistan, Pakistan’s biggest province, rarely gets much attention from the international media, and what little it does is dwarfed by that showered on Afghanistan. So it is with a certain amount of deliberate provocation that I ask the question posed in the headline: Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?
Before everyone answers with a resounding “no”, do pause to consider that China – renowned for its long-term planning – has invested heavily in Baluchistan, including building a deep water port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to give it access to Gulf oil supplies. The region is rich in gas and minerals; attracting strong international interest in spite of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatists.
Bordering both Iran and Afghanistan, it lies along the sectarian and geopolitical faultlines that have fissured the region since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan later that year. Its capital, Quetta, is often cited by Washington as a haven for the Afghan Taliban in the so-called Quetta shura, who operate independently of the more secular Baluch separatists.
The province is also a source of friction with India, with Pakistan accusing it of using its presence in Afghanistan to fund the Baluch separatists, a charge Delhi denies. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that argument, you can be fairly sure that anywhere lying on the intersection of Indian, Chinese and Pakistani interests will be strategically far more important than it might appear on the surface.
In that context, Forbes Magazine has a must-read take-out on China’s drive to develop its presence in Baluchistan.
“In the Pakistani province of Balochistan, South Asia and central Asia bleed into the Middle East. Bordered by Afghanistan, Iran and the Persian Gulf, and well endowed with oil, gas, copper, gold and coal reserves, Balochistan is a rich prize that should have foreign investors battering at the gates,” it says. “But for a half-century it has been the exclusive playground of the Pakistani government and its state-owned Chinese partners. China would prefer it to stay that way.”
For an entirely different view, Informed Comment has a guest contribution up by Berkeley academic Kiren Aziz Chaudhry. The arguments can be a bit distracting if you don’t buy into conspiracy theories about the reasons for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. But do persevere until you get to the point where the writer identifies Baluchistan as the main centre of interest for the many rivalries across Afghanistan and Pakistan: “The fulcrum is the province of Balochistan. And within Balochistan, the pivot is the dusty, obscure coastal town of Gwadar. Gwadar has a spanking new deep water port. Wheels within wheels. Devices within devices.” It’s worth reading through to the end, if nothing else but because this little known part of the world deserves as many different voices as possible.
At the very least, both articles should leave you with a doubt in your mind about the original question as to whether Baluchistan is strategically more important than Afghanistan.
And then revisit another question I asked a year ago. Who will win the peace in Afghanistan?
maza aa gaya lahore mein aaj.
Here's a Dawn report on Reko Diq development in Balochistan that could bring in $2 billion a year in royalties for Pakistan:
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday that the country could earn $2 billion per year by developing the Reko Diq copper and gold project on its own — much higher than a paltry return of $160 million offered to the Balochistan government by a consortium of Chilean and Canadian companies.
“Pakistan is possessed with the expertise and technology to explore and refine the precious metals — an investment which will help the government earn $2 billion per annum,” nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarkmand, chairman of the board of governors of Reko Diq Copper Development project, said in a presentation to a three-judge bench seized with petitions challenging a contract awarded to Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) for exploring gold and copper.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, is hearing identical petitions filed by Barrister Zafarullah and Advocate Tariq Asad. Barrister Zafarullah also moved a contempt petition against the TCC for carrying out advertisements in the print media, although the matter is before the court.
Dr Mubarakmand wondered if Pakistan could develop nuclear technology by reducing defence budget, why could it not develop mining technology. It would also help boost foreign exchange reserves and establish the downstream industry, the scientist said while talking to reporters.
“This technology is similar to uranium mining. The digging process will also help excavate a number of precious minerals, including zirconium and cobalt,” he said, adding that about 400 square kilometres of land had been leased out to the foreign firm, but it had dug only six to seven sq-km over the past three years — only two to three per cent of the total area.
Dr Mubarakmand said that mines in Reko Diq had 0.025 per cent reserves of precious metals. The country, he said, had the capability to process these metals. He said the foreign firm would fetch an estimated profit of $104 billion from the digging site. Right now the firm’s owners wanted to ship the extracted raw mineral outside the country for refining.
The scientist informed the court that the total copper requirement of the country was one ton a year, but whatever copper was excavated from the Saindak copper and gold project had been exported. Not a single kilogram went to the local industry, he lamented.
He rejected allegations that Balochistan was not sharing the project’s feasibility report with the federal government.
Irshad Ali, Director General of Minerals in the petroleum ministry, defended the project and said the allegations levelled by the petitioners were unfounded. “No violation of rules or policy has been breached by the government at any stage,” he told the court.
He recalled that the Balochistan government had in 1993 entered into an agreement with Broken Hill, a foreign company, for exploration of mineral reserves, of which 25 per cent of shares as profit was to go to the province while the federal government reserved the right to levy cess.
On Sept 3, 2007, the then prime minister had constituted a five-member committee comprising federal secretaries to attract foreign companies, but it failed to reach any decision as the firms interested in the project were not ready to give more than two per cent share as royalty while the government’s demand was five per cent.
Reko Diq controversy is something that suggests to me that the politicians in Islamabad have botched the handing out of mining licenses at beat and have sold out a huge asset for peanuts at worst for whatever reason. Even in the Pakistan Supreme Court, the discussion is on the copper and gold assets, while the rare earths and rare metals like Samarium, Dysprosium, Neodymium, Niobium etc are not even spoken about. And, the companies that have been granted the mining contract are offering to pay a 2% royalty while the Pakistan government is asking for 5%. I can understand this percentage being offered for copper and for gold which are very expensive to extract even if some of the new reduction methods are used, but since the ores are going to be processed in Chile and Canada, someone is certain to go laughing to the bank at Pakistani citizens' expense. The figures of $ 260 billion worth of copper and gold that are being bandied about are a smokescreen - the rare earths and rare metals available there are almost certainly worth considerably more.
Best wishes and I hope that saner counsel prevails in the Pakistani legal system. If this business is allowed to go ahead - even at the 5% royalty demanded by the government - it will have been a theft of Pakistani national assets.
From what I found main deal was done in 1993. Depending on when it was either under Nawaz Sharif or Benazir Bhutto Govt, when Mr. 10% was in charge of finance and investments portfolio! At the time I do not know if they understood value of rare earth minerals.
"But after the Saindak study, instead of appointing international consultants for assessing the value and quantum of Reko Diq reserves, the Balochistan government entered into an agreement in 1993 with an Australian company having vast investments in oil and gas sectors under which 75 per cent of the reserves of Reko Diq were to be given to BHP Billiton, while 25 per cent share was to go to the government of Pakistan."
Even now no mention of rare earths!
No mention of rare earth metals involved…
‘National Engineering and Scientific Commission Chairman Dr Samar Mubarak Mand’s statement to the Supreme Court, about the Reko Diq project, sheds an entirely new light on it, and converts it from a mere financial scam involving the government, to a violation of the national interest. That was perhaps an essential part of a scam involving the country’s natural resources, but this pronouncement by the country’s leading nuclear and missile scientist, threw into sharp relief the fact that the project was not just about gold, but also about copper, which is much cheaper, but which is much more used in all sorts of activity, and none of which is being provided from the Saindak project.”
Here is a Dawn OpEd on the "neglect of mineral sector" in Pakistan:
The mineral sector has not been developed in Pakistan because it has not gone beyond the geological mapping and mineral exploration stage by and large.
The integrated role of geology, mining and metallurgy/ beneficiation has not been institutionalised to develop the natural resources in the country.
The mineral sector organisations such as Geological Survey of Pakistan, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation and Pakistan Council of Scientific Research should play an integrated role to prepare pre-feasibility studies based on the modern concepts of mineral modelling.
The controversy of Reko Diq is due to this neglect and ignorance of already available research studies on Chaghi metallogenic belt in north western part of Balochistan.
Dozens of research papers and reports are available on porphyry deposits containing copper, molybdenum and gold in Chaghi metallogenic belt by GSP, UNDP and other international experts of repute.
The prominent cu porphyry type deposits distributed in Chaghi area are Saindak (leased to Chinese), Koh-i-Dalil (Reko Diq), Durban Chah, Dashte Kain, Ziarat Pir Sultan, Siah Koh, and a host of others.
GSP`s geologists Bhutta and Asad have published and unpublished reports in national and international journals on sulphide mineralisation in Chaghi.
Besides this, world renowned experts on porphyry copper and metallogeny, like Schmidt, Sillitoe and Jankovic have published research papers and reports along with GSP geologists.
Research and development (R&D) in mineral sector is criminally neglected while mineral resource cannot be developed and utilised without R & D.
Therefore, it is important that the full potential of all the mineral organisations should be put into operation, so that the stigma of less than one per cent contribution of mineral sector in national economy should be washed away.
MIRZA TALIB HASSAN
Pakistan Petroleum is seeking tenders to develop oil and gas resources in Pakistan, according to Oil Voice:
Exploration in these licenses is expected to convert conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources in to reserves. There are stratigraphic traps, tight gas, shale gas etc.
Dera Ismail Khan Block Overview:
The block lies in the Suleiman Foredeep with Sargodha High in the East, Khishor & Marwat Ranges in the North, Suleiman Foldbelt in the West and the Zindapir anticlinorium in the South. The development of Suleiman Foredeep is related with an uplift of the Suleiman Range, which is believed to be related to early and late Tertiary inversion of extensional and trans-tensional basins along the northwest margins of the Indian continental plate.
The block contains the stratigraphic play at Eocene and Paleocene levels. The Sembar Formation (Cretaceous) is the proven source rock in the nearby Dhodak & Salsabil Gas Fields, which lies in the Gas window in the West of D. I. Khan block. The primary reservoir targets are the Stratigraphic pinch out of Habib Rahi Limestone (Eocene) and the truncations of Lower Ranikot Formation (Paleocene). The Secondary target is the Pab Sandstone (Cretaceous). The seal is comprised of Intra Eocene Shales and the Shales of Chitarwata Formation (Oligocene) above the Base Oligocene unconformity. The Lower Ranikot and Pab Sandstone are the proven Gas/Condensate reservoir in the Dhodak and Salsabil Gas Fields.
The Kamiab-1 well (Amoco, 1974) drilled in the East encountered the significant Gas shows in the Lower Ranikot Formation.
Sirani Block Overview:
The Sembar Formation (Lower-Cretaceous) is the proven source rock in the area. Sands of Lower Goru Formation (Lower Cretaceous) are producing in nearby fields and have good reservoir quality. Shales of Upper Goru & intraformational shales provide the seal. Tilted Faults Blocks are expected in the Block.
• Four leads identified on vintage seismic data. New seismic likely to yield more leads
• Proximity to the producing Badin Oil fields to the west
• Possibility of finding additional leads in southern marshy area where no seismic data has been acquired. Good shows encountered in some wells in the block
• Nearby existing infrastructure
• Low cost drilling operations as minimum problems are expected.
• Early production through Extended Well Testing (EWT)
Naushahro Firoz Block Overview:
The Naushahro Firoz block lies in a zone with a proven petroleum system from different reservoirs. The Zamzama gas condensate discovery (2.3 Tcf and 12 MMbo)) from Late Cretaceous Pab sandstone lies to the west and Sawan gas discovery (1.5 Tcf) from Lower Cretaceous Lower Goru sandstone lies to the East of the block. Sui Main Limestone (SML) of Eocene age is a proven reservoir in a number of discoveries (over 2 Tcf reserves) located in the north of the block. The reservoir quality of SML is also proven by the Sagyun-01 well drilled in the block and wells drilled in the surrounding area. One lead and a possibility of another lead identified at SML level on sparse vintage data.
Jungshahi Block Overview:
The Jungshahi block lies to the east of two gas discoveries. An untested surface lead is separated from a gas field by a broad syncline. The Block is close to the Kitchen area. Untested surface anticlines are present in the block. Proven reservoir rocks of Paleocene and Cretaceous are present. Significant gas shows have been observed in Lower and Upper Ranikot formations in the wells drilled in the block. The Block is located close to an existing gas pipeline / infrastructure and commercial hub at Karachi. Early production is expected through EWT.
Here's Reuters on the likely bid winners for Reko Diq mining rights:
ISLAMABAD, June 26 (Reuters) - Chile's Antofagasta and Canada's Barrick Gold are likely to win mining rights for a $3.3 billion copper and gold project in Pakistan, a senior provincial government official said on Sunday.
The companies are partners in the Tethyan Copper Co (TCC) joint venture, which has a 75 percent interest in the Reko Diq project in the southwestern Baluchistan province.
TCC has carried out exploration but wants to expand its presence through mining.
Baluchistan has huge natural resources. However, growing anger over outsiders exploiting Pakistan's biggest and poorest province makes it difficult for investors to gain access.
Separatists have for decades waged a low-level revolt over control of Baluchistan's resources, which they say are unfairly exploited by the country's richer and more powerful provinces.
Reko Diq holds an estimated 5.9 billion tonnes of mineral resources with an average copper grade of 0.41 percent and an average gold grade of 0.22 grams a tonne, according to data released by Antofagasta.
TCC completed exploration on Reko Diq last year and submitted a feasibility report for mining.
A senior Baluchistan government official told Reuters that TCC's request for a mining licence was under consideration.
"If they fulfil the conditions then we have no objection at all," Baluchistan chief secretary, Ahmed Bakhsh Lehri, said.
No other companies have applied for mining permission, mining and government officials say.
Last week, the Baluchistan government announced it would set up a facility to refine copper and gold concentrates extracted from Riko Diq.
TCC has said it would sell the concentrate from Reko Diq to the provincial government on a commercial basis if it gains permission to mine.
In a bid to secure the deal, TCC has also offered to arrange financing for the government's 25 percent share of investment in the project through a soft loan and to pay the interest, according to a company document seen by Reuters.
The first stage of the project, which is hoped to start production in 2015, would produce 200,000 tonnes of copper and up to 300,000 ounces of gold a year, the company said.
Here's a Wall Street Journal report on the latest developments in Reko Diq saga:
A Pakistan province says a 200,000-page feasibility study for the development of a massive gold and copper deposit doesn't go far enough.
The government of Baluchistan raised observations and objections on the mining-license application for the deposit, which is one of the largest in the world, and has given the project developer 30 days to respond, said a senior official in the provincial government.
The $3.4 billion project is slated to become Pakistan's largest single foreign investment but faces potential delays or even cancellation, depending on the conditions that may be imposed on the mining license.
The observations and objections ...
Here's an opinion piece by an Indian writer Sajith Kumar in commditiyonline on the size and significance of Reko Diq:
The Reko Diq project is a large gold and copper porphyry resource located in the dry desert conditions of southwest Pakistan within the remote and sparsely populated province of Balochistan .
It is expected to contain some 20.9 million ounces of gold and 12.3 million tons of copper .The copper-gold deposits at Reko Diq are believed to be even bigger than those of Sarcheshmeh in Iran and Escondida in Chile.
A further 14 mineralized porphyry bodies are known to exist, with the potential to place the Reko Diq Project among the largest undeveloped copper resources on the globe.
At today’s international prices of Gold at $1650 an ounce (with cost of production $375/ounce), and Copper with cost of production at $1,500/ton , the profit works out to almost $4 billion for gold and $2 billion for copper annually.
BHP Billiton initially signed the exploration licence with the government of Balochistan in 1993, while Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) was being formed in Australia, with BHP Billiton having 75 per cent and the Balochistan government 25 per cent.
With gold and copper established in substantial quantity, BHP sold its stake 37.5 per cent each to the Chilean Conglomerate Antofagasta Minerals and the Canadian company Barrick Gold.
However, the project might take a long way to happen as advancing influence of terrorists in the region is the single most threat that needed to address immediately.
Even if the authorities cleared the project, it will required a massive effort by the parties involved in the mining to actually start digging the treasure out, analysts said.
Pakistan is at the moment remained a dangerous place to start any kind of business for foreigners, especially to westerners as some forces within the government are promoting and providing safe haven to terrorists operating in the country, analysts added.
Considering the situation, country’s dream gold project is unlikely to happen atleast in the next ten years, they added.
Here's a Daily Times report on gold, silver and copper reserves in Pakistan:
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has 1,339.25 tonnes of gold reserves situated in Balochistan with 63.50 tonnes at Saindak and 1275.75 tonnes at Reko Diq, sources told Daily Times on Monday.
These two major gold reserves are situated in district Chagi, Balochistan. The sources further said the Saindak Copper-Gold Project, Balochistan is the only project in the country, which is producing gold/silver as a by-product in a normal quantity. The gold production was 7.891 tonnes and silver 11.293 tonnes during five years from 2005 to 2009. Occurrence and showing of gold and silver had been reported from various parts of the country, including Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, reserves of these occurrences had not been confirmed except in Saindak and Reko Diq.
In 2006, the production of gold was 1.410 tonnes, while silver was 2.403 tonnes, in 2007 gold was 1.576 tonnes and silver 2.136 tonnes, in 2008 gold was 1.542 tonnes and silver 2.088 tonnes, while in 2009, the gold production was 1.592 tonnes and silver 2.157 tonnes. The country also has rich copper resources, and according to estimates there are about 4.805 billion tonnes copper reserves of which majority are in Balochistan and some nominal quantity in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan. Balochistan’s copper reserves consists of Saindak with 412 million tonnes, Reko Diq 3.720 billion tonnes, Dhasht-e-Kain 200 million tonnes, Ziarat Pir Suyltan 200 million tonnes, Kabul Koh 50 million tonnes, Missi 100 million tonnes and Bandegan 0.032 million tonnes.
About 123 million tonnes of copper reserves in FATA areas Boya, Shinkari-North Waziristan have been found, the sources added. In Gilgit-Baltistan (Bulashgah, Gilgit) 0.5 million tonnes of copper reserves were discovered. Officials in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources told this scribe that feasibility studies have been conducted for copper-gold projects at Saindak and Reko Diq in the year 1988 and 2010, respectively. The Saindak project is in production since 2003.
Reko Diq deposit is in development phase and government of Balochistan as regulator is processing application for conversion of exploration licence into long-term lease. At present, the officials said two foreign companies are working for the copper-gold deposits, MCC of China on Saindak Project and Tethyan Copper Company, joint venture of government of Balochistan 25 percent, Antofagasta-Chile 37.5 percent and Barrick Gold-Canada 37.5 percent on Reko Diq project.
The officials further said Saindak Copper Gold project is the only productive unit in the country. The government of Balochistan receives royalty at the rate of five percent of sale proceeds and 60 percent share from Saindak Metals Limited/government of Pakistan.
Based on current production level, the annual revenue of the province from this project is estimated at Rs 1.300 billion. As per feasibility study, the life of mine of Reko Diq project is 56 years and estimated annual revenue of government of Balochistan during the above period is $110.8 million, the officials maintained.
However, private sources opposed the Reko Diq project exploration/mining lease to foreign companies. They describe it as the most unfair business deal of the decade, the multi-billion-dollar Reko Diq copper-and-gold project has been placed at the mercy of a consortium of companies who may walk away with its riches, robbing the country of a golden opportunity to lift itself out of its growing external debt. Private sector said that the geologists have estimated that Reko Diq contains mineral deposits worth $500 billion and if the authorities did not take action immediately, this golden opportunity of turning around Pakistan’s fate will be lost.
At $1500 per ounce, a ton of gold (32,000 ounces) is worth $48 million, and 1300 tons of gold reserves in Pakistan are worth US$62 billion.
And 500 million tons of copper at $7,000 a ton is worth US$3.5 trillion.
At current prices, Reko Diq gold & copper deposits are worth over US$4 trillion.
TCC, the Canadian-Chilean joint venture, disagrees with the above.
According to the TCC, the mineral resource at Reko Diq is estimated at 5.9 billion tonnes. From this resource, an estimated 2.2 billion tonnes of economically mineable ore, with an average copper grade of 0.5 per cent and an average gold grade of 0.3 gms/tonne will be processed to produce 10 million tonnes of copper and 13 million ounces of gold in the form of payable metal in about 56 years of mine life.
On May 25, the Supreme Court, while hearing several petitions against the possibility of giving to a foreign company (TCC) a contract for mining copper and gold deposits in Reko Diq, had vacated its stay order which restrained the Balochistan government from issuing mining lease to any company, according to Dawn newspaper.
Here's a TCC press release on Reko Diq:
Islamabad, November 5, 2010: CEO Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (Pvt.) Limited (TCC) Gerhard Von Borries said that TCC is sensitive to all of Government of Balochistan concerns and, within the viability parameters of the project, committed to addressing them.
While speaking to the media, he said that overall more than 50% of the project’s revenues (after investment and operating costs) will go both to the provincial and federal governments combined in form of royalties, profits and taxes. Reko Diq project is being developed by TCC in a total transparent manner; in accordance with the joint venture agreement in place and as per the rules and regulations of the country. The agreement to work on Reko Diq project was signed between Government of Balochistan and BHP in 1993, called Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (CHEJVA). Under this agreement government had 25% interest in the exploration license while BHP held the remaining 75%. In 2006, TCC shares were bought by world’s two leading companies, Antofagsata plc (Chile) and Barrick Gold (Canadian). All transactions were fully compliant with existing laws and regulations. The legality of the transactions was confirmed by Balochistan High Court in its 2007 ruling.
Since 2006, profile of the project has improved significantly with to-date investment of around US$ 220 million; extensive exploratory drilling (more than 280,000m) has established a much larger combined resource estimate (5.9 billion tons) than declared by previous owners; and also in terms employment currently 400 (permanent+contractors) people are working for the project as compared to 50 prior to takeover.
According to world class bankable Feasibility report completed by TCC recently, the mineral resource at Reko Diq is estimated at 5.9 billion tons. From this resource, an estimated 2.2 billion tons of economically mineable ore, with an average copper grade of 0.5% and an average gold grade of 0.3 gr/tonne will be processed to produce 2.2 billion pounds of copper (10.000.000 tons) and 13 million ounces of gold in form of payable metal in about 56 years of mine life. The rest of the resources are not economically mineable with the current existing technology. (TCC reports its resources and reserves to two International Minerals Reporting Standards: JORC (Australia) and CIM (Canada).
For a mining project financial modeling several factors are taken into account like mineable portion of the resource including transformation costs of taking the ore out and processing it to a saleable product. The value being quoted in certain press reports does not take into account the investment expenditures in the project, the operating expenses to produce a pound of copper and an ounce of gold, the economically mineable portion of the resources and the average long term prices of the metal and not the current market price which will not prevail in the future.
Reko Diq project has the tremendous potential to contribute in the uplift of Balochistan’s economy in specific and the national economy in general. A clear social, business and economic understanding needs to be developed around this very important JV which is the first of its scale and sophistication in Pakistan’s mining history. The TCC Reko Diq project shall lay foundations of a world class skilled mining resource, cutting-edge technology transfer, health and safety standards and nurturing the value chain for sustaining the mining industry towards the development of Balochistan’s economy....
Here's a Reuters' report on Reko Diq status:
Pakistan's Reko Diq, an untapped copper and gold mine of fabulous potential, was meant to be the biggest foreign investment in the country's mining sector, but it's beginning to look more like fool's gold to the companies involved.
Set in one of the most godforsaken places on earth, in a Baluchistan desert at the foot of an extinct volcano, Reko Diq was expected to yield revenues of at least $60 billion over the 56-year life of the mine.
Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a joint venture between Chile's Antofagasta and Canadian-based Barrick Gold, had sunk $220 million over the past five years into exploring the deposit in the ochre sand desert, where temperatures reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. It was planning to invest a total of $3.3 billion when the provincial government abruptly refused to grant a mining license last year.
TCC says it never did get an explanation.
"It's been difficult to define what their actual issues were," Tim Livesey, CEO of TCC, told Reuters in an exclusive interview. "We went back to them for clarification, as many of their issues are not covered in the Baluchistan Mining Regulations."
A local government official, who requested anonymity, said TCC took too long to complete its feasibility study and that it was "cheating" Baluchistan by under-valuing the worth of the copper and gold.
"They are the monopoly," the official said angrily. "They are the monopolists of the gold! They don't want to disclose the worth of the gold in Baluchistan."
The case is now before the Pakistan Supreme Court, and TCC has filed for international arbitration. The Baluchistan government, meanwhile, has recently handed out exploration permits in the area around Reko Diq to new Pakistani and Chinese companies with no mining experience.
Pakistan is already viewed as a high risk investment due to chronic civil and sectarian conflict, terrorism, corruption, poor regulation and chronic power outages. Legal uncertainty would only add to that list.
The Baluchis have staged five uprisings since the province was incorporated into Pakistan in 1948, each time demanding more control over their natural resources.
Because of this, some analysts speculate that the powerful Pakistani army sees Reko Diq as a strategic resource and hopes to keep the mineral wealth out of the hands of the Baluchistan government, in case separatist political parties win provincial elections.
The army, acknowledging Pakistan's inexperience in large-scale commercial mining, might also want to bring China into the picture. China is the world's largest consumer of copper, has experience in large-scale mining, and has a record of building infrastructure in exchange for resources in developing countries.
"Everywhere I look, there are indications of Chinese interest in developing this area, more than Barrick Gold could," said Shamila Chaudhary of Eurasia Group.
The Chinese government-owned Metallurgical Construction Corp (MCC) already runs the nearby Saindak Copper-Gold Project, and submitted a counter-proposal to develop the Reko Diq mine during a visit to Pakistan by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jibbao in December 2010. Pakistan media say MCC's proposal was similar to TCC's, but was sweetened with a larger share of the royalties going to the government. This was after TCC had submitted its feasibility report. MCC has not commented on those reports.
TCC is still hoping for a negotiated settlement outside arbitration, but Chaudhary thinks its parent companies are looking to cut their losses.
"From what I hear on the Barrick Gold side ... they're looking to come to closure on this issue," she said.
Here's PakTribune on British High Commissioner's comments on the impact of Reko Diq on foreign investmemt:
British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson has said that the verdict in international arbitration on the Reko Diq saga may have chilling affects on foreign investors.
“Supreme Court of Pakistan's verdict in certain cases whether it relates to Reko Diq or others is a sign of discouragement for foreign investors,” Adam Thomson said while talking to selected journalists on Wednesday night.
Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) filed for international arbitration to protect its legal rights after Balochistan rejected its mining lease application. Tethyan Copper – a joint venture between Chilean copper producer Antofagasta and Canada's Barrick Gold – owns the massive Reko Diq project in Balochistan with reserves estimated at 2.2 billion tons of gold and copper.
“There is a risk of misconception from some of its decisions and Reqo Diq is the latest one,” He said that Pakistan should think carefully about it.
Responding to questions about litigation between government of Pakistan and international companies, the British High Commissioner said that a strong judicial system will not only uphold Pakistan's interest but was extremely important to foreign companies.
He said that Pakistan and the United Kingdom signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in 1994 providing protection to companies in both countries. Pakistan is attracting British companies after promulgation of this agreement, he added.
He said that the 10% increase in trade compared to the previous year was not bad keeping in mind the global recession.
“UK-based exploration company Premier Oil has been working in the oil and gas sector of Pakistan for the last 10 years,” he said adding that there are more such companies.
He said that British companies are doing very well in Pakistan which reflected from their profits. “These companies also face challenges with regulatory bodies being the biggest challenge,” he said. Although, he said, Pakistan in South Asia is comparatively a good place to do business, corruption is also a problem as few companies find it difficult to work in certain sectors.
UK has very stringent Anti-Bribery Act which governs UK companies in Pakistan so that they would stay clean. “Some changes in reorganisation in government, ministries, regulatory bodies after the 18th Constitutional Amendment are also challenging to those British companies considering to invest in Pakistan,” he said adding that perception of insecurity is very high among them. “When I'm in UK, I try hard to overcome such impressions,” he added.
“India is second largest investor foreign manufacture holder in UK,” he said adding that all Pakistani companies should also see UK as a gateway to European Union. “We are the second largest investor in Pakistan and aim to become the largest,” he concluded.
Here's a BBC report on full aerial mapping of Afghan natural resources:
Afghanistan has become the first country whose surface minerals have been mapped from the air.
The US Geological Survey released the results of a "hyperspectral imaging" effort, in which reflections of light shone from an aircraft are analysed.
Different minerals - as well as snow or vegetation - reflect specific colours, resulting in a "mineral map".
The map comprises more than 800 million data points corresponding to an area of 440,000 sq km, some 70% of the country.
Afghanistan is known to have vast reserves of oil, gas, copper, cobalt, gold and lithium. In late 2011, a consortium of Indian companies inked a deal to begin mining some of the country's large stores of iron.
But the country is known to have a wider array of mineral resources; in 2010, the Afghan ministry of mines claimed a value of its reserves of nearly a trillion dollars, then carrying out tours to promote investment in them.
But it remains to pin down which economically viable minerals are where, an effort for which the USGS's hyperspectral imaging expertise was enlisted.
In a series of 28 flights over 43 days, the USGS gathered the data by shining visible and infrared light from a height of 15,000m and using a camera to capture the reflections. Each "pixel" of the camera was analysed and correlated with the materials that reflect at a given colour.
The USGS public release of the data includes two maps: one of iron and iron-bearing minerals, and one of minerals principally containing carbon, silicon, or sulphur.
The survey was funded by the US Department of Defense's Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) as well as the Afghan government.
"This is a tremendous tool for the Afghan government for locating and identifying its myriad rich mineral deposits," said TFBSO director Jim Bullion.
"These maps clearly show the enormous size and variety of Afghanistan's mineral wealth and position the country to become a world leader in the minerals sector."
Is there any previous remote sensing effort for mineral exploration in pakistan specially balochistan
Indeed, raw remote sensing data are available for analysis and there is at least one local company (Mohmand Dada Minerals) using that data to find deposits in Chagai. This is raw IR and NIR data that needs processing before analysis and the processing is dependent on what it is that one seeks.
Here's Daily Times on Reko Diq:
Reko Diq mining is once again topping the country’s legal discourse. At stake is one of the world’s largest gold and copper reserves worth tens of billions of dollars.
It all started in the early nineties when BHP – a global mining giant — identified the mineral potential of Chaghai’s Tethyan belt in western Balochistan. This was inferred from the 1956-58 basic geophysical reports of the American Geological Survey complemented by satellite imagery of the earth’s crust over 13,000 square kilometres of Chaghai.
Having done the basic homework and waiting for the right opportunity, BHP signed the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement ( CHEJVA) with the Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) when the caretaker government of Sardar Nasir Mengal took charge in July 1993 and World Bank executive Moeen Qureshi was Pakistan’s interim prime minister.
It was morally and politically incorrect for both the caretaker government and a global corporation like BHP to sign off Balochistan’s largest sub-surface asset to a single party without proper international bidding and through the BDA and not Balochistan’s Ministry of Minerals. At stake was over $ 500 billion worth of copper and gold extractable over the next century.
The reserves are shallow, only 21 metres deep and ideal for an open pit going down till 1,000 metres.
CHEJVA was in favour of BHP, Australia 75 percent to BDA’s 25 percent on a joint investment basis. Only 2 percent royalty was stipulated for the government of Balochistan against exploration rights over 3.3 million acres for a period of 56 years.
In comparison, the Afghan government gave a similar licence of gold mining at 26 percent plain royalty for 10 years at their Qara Zaghan Gold Project in 2011.
“Its not simple corruption but more a case of culpable national incompetence,” boils Raza Kazim.
Over the next three years and as a result of basic shallow drilling samples, around 14 potential areas were identified by BHP, including the goldmine Reko Diq. The Balochistan government awarded 10 prospecting licences to BHP out of these. Then in 2000, BHP relinquished all those licences except one, i.e. PL-4, and this was then amalgamated with PL-14, i.e. Reko Diq.
According to TCC’s feasibility, an ore extraction of some six billion tonnes is projected over the next five years with an output of 200,000 tonnes of extracted copper and around 250,000 ounces of gold every year. This capacity could double if needed.
The processing copper concentrate facility at Reko Diq will process 120,000 tonnes of copper ore every day.
Reko Diq project, which took over 20 years to reach this feasibility and national and international litigation levels is the second major copper/gold project of Balochistan, the first being Saindak.
In the Saindak project, the federal government spent over $ 200 million to develop a mine and processing facility for concentrate copper ore in the early nineties when Reko Diq just got started. Having worked and apparently failed at the project, the federal government handed the whole project to MCC China at only $ half a million per annum fee in 2001.
The Chinese have been extracting copper ore and shipping its concentrate to China over the last 12 years and giving the federal government around $ 60 million per annum as share of its 50 percent profits. The remaining 50 percent stays with the Chinese.
The government’s attitude towards strategic national assets can be gauged from the fact that the federal government has less than 10 employees to look after the whole of Saindak Copper Project in the Ministry of Petroleum while it employs over 90,000 persons for Pakistan Railways for the same amount of revenue.
Here's BR on PPL introducing new petroleum exploration technology in Pakistan:
A PPL statement here on Saturday said that developed by NXT Energy Solutions (NXT), a geophysical service company based in Canada, SFD (Stress Field Detection) is a proprietary cutting edge, eco-friendly airborne reconnaissance method to identify potential hydrocarbon traps and reservoirs in a time- and cost-effective manner, especially in unexplored on- and off-shore frontier regions with limited access and infrastructure.
It said that the SFD is expected to be particularly useful in the current energy scenario, warranting fast track identification of, and production from, relatively deeper, more complex reserves of hydrocarbons to bridge the supply-demand gap.
Welcoming the guests, PPL's Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Asim Murtaza Khan, underscored the increasing importance of deploying latest exploration technology to meet production and reserves replacement targets to address the current deficit and ensure future energy security. SFD technology has been successfully applied by leading oil and gas companies in North America, Colombia and other countries. PPL is proud to be the first company to apply the technology in Pakistan', he said.
Pakistan Supreme Court has voided Reko Diq lease with Tethyan, reports Globe & Mail:
Pakistan’s top court on Monday declared invalid a lease for one of the world’s richest deposits of gold and copper held by a Canadian-Chilean consortium that includes Vancouver-based giant Barrick Gold Corp.
Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, and Chile’s Antofagasta Minerals, each own a 37.5-per-cent share, as the Tethyan Copper Company, in the largest Foreign Direct Investment mining project in Pakistan.
Their plan was to build and operate a copper and gold open-pit mine at Reko Diq in the Chagai district of the southwestern province Baluchistan, the most deprived part of Pakistan, rife with Taliban, sectarian and separatist violence.
Barrick and Antofagasta say the proposed plant could produce 600,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold a year, but in 2011 work came to a standstill after the local government refused to renew the consortium’s mining lease.
The provincial government in Baluchistan is also the sleeping partner in the Reko Diq project with a 25-per-cent stake.
Reasons for the dispute are murky, but some analysts suggest that China, a close Pakistan ally, is also interested in the deposits.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday declared “not valid” the initial 1993 exploration agreement between the Baluchistan government and Australian mining group BHP, since BHP Billiton Ltd.
It said the agreement ran counter to Pakistan’s mineral development act and mining concession rules, and therefore to transfer it to the Canadian-Chilean consortium is also “illegal, void and non est”.
Experts say mining in Baluchistan is dominated by small companies focused primarily on marble and granite, which waste up to 80 per cent of mined minerals because of poor blasting techniques.
They also call for more transparent polices to allow business to flourish
Hi I am Arslan Khawaja from Sialkot, Punjab Pakistan. I want to add if the State Bank of Pakistan invests in the mining of Riko Dekh Project and grab the opportunity to increase the Nation's Gold Reserves at such a low cost, would that help appreciate our PKR? If this happens we would be in a favorable condition to decrease the burden of our external loans due to IMF, World Bank and other Institutions and by this way Inflation can also be reduced. Awaiting for your replies,,, thanks...
AK: " I want to add if the State Bank of Pakistan invests in the mining of Riko Dekh Project and grab the opportunity to increase the Nation's Gold Reserves at such a low cost..."
State Bank is a bank regulator. It does not directly invest but it can encourage commercial banks to invest. You'll still need a professional mining co to do the work.
Here's a Eurasia report on oil and gas in Pakistan's FATA region:
According to an OilPrice.com Energy Intelligence Report, Pakistan’s tribal areas are believed to have massive reserves of oil and natural gas—which Pakistani officials have suddenly become very keen to demonstrate. But this is a highly restive, war-torn area where one right move could make all the difference, and one wrong move could ignite a conflict with irreversible consequences.
For now, the area remains unexplored and it was only in 2008 when Pakistani geologists began to study the area in earnest, with the support of the local authorities. The results of this research were collected, processed and digitized in June 2012. The geologists discovered seven new oil and gas seepages during the mapping. The geologists also claim that 11 oil and gas exploration companies have already reserved 16 blocks in Fata.
Geologists say the area, bursting at the seams with gas, is poised to become a ‘new oil state’ whose production could rival Dubai’s in only five years.
The interest is evident from: 1) seventeen companies have initiated operations in Khyber, Orakzai, North and South Waziristan, Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan), 2) Tullow has been active in Pakistan since 1991, but since 2008 it has sought to transfer its Asian licenses to focus on Africa and the Atlantic Margin, 3) other players include Mari Gas Company (Pakistan), HYCARBEX (part of American Energy Group ), Saif Energy (Pakistan), MOL Pakistan Oil and Gas, Orient Petroleum International (Ocean Pakistan/Cayman Islands), ZHEN (China), and others and 4) Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) of Pakistan is set to begin exploratory drilling in the area soon.
The report has also talked about Gwadar port. In terms of infrastructure, China has been the chief architect, and investor. China has already invested around $300 million in the deepwater Gwadar Port close to Gulf of Oman.
Construction began in 2002 and the goal was to make this port a transit hub for landlocked countries (Afghanistan and Central Asia) and to boost transit from the Persian Gulf to East Africa. China plans to invest a total of $1.6 billion in the port—so far it’s cost $200 million to build the first three berths, which can handle $2 billion in cargo annually.
Despite its capacity, cargo has been slow to move through this port, largely because it’s not connected to the rest of the country.
Here's Global Times on US delivering P3C Orions to Pakistan:
Pakistan is expected to receive maritime surveillance P3C Orion aircraft from the United States this year, state media quoted the country's ambassador in Washington as saying.
Ms. Sherry Rehman, who has been meeting with top American officials as part of efforts to restore the full range of bilateral ties, has said both the civil and defense cooperation between the two sides are gaining momentum, radio Pakistan reported on Monday.
Pakistan's Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Muhammad Shafique, currently on a visit to the US, discussed matters related to ongoing cooperation between Pakistani and American navies and expressed satisfaction over senior level exchanges.
He expressed the hope for early departure of P3C maritime aircraft from the United States.
Pakistan had signed an agreement with the American defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin seven years ago, for the delivery of seven Orion aircrafts.
The Navy received three of the aircrafts in 2010, while another two were delivered in 2011. In addition to the Orions, the Navy is also operating seven aging Fokker F27-200 Friendship naval surveillance aircrafts, which it had acquired during the 1980s.
The Orions are one of the most popular maritime surveillance aircrafts in the world, being used by the naval forces in a number of nations such as the US, Japan, New Zealand and Brazil.
The aircrafts were first inducted into the US Navy in 1962, and so far more than 750 units have been manufactured. The US Navy had recently decided to replace its Orion fleet with the Boeing P-8A Poseidons.
Pakistani ambassador said that Pak-US interactions are important to push forward Pakistan-US bilateral defense ties and said the Pakistan Navy's key role in securing sea lanes in North Arabian Sea as part of the anti-piracy international coalition has been widely appreciated in the United States.
State media said that as a result of some hectic diplomacy, Washington and Islamabad have come out of a difficult phase in bilateral ties since early 2011, following a series of high-level meetings and trust-building measures.
The US recently released long-delayed Coalition Support Fund reimbursements and both countries have resumed working on different levels of cooperation through regular forums of institutionalized dialogues and working groups
Post-2000, the awkward, inconvenient truth is that, particularly during the regime of retired General Pervez Musharraf and former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, the physical infrastructure of Tharparkar reached an unprecedented level of progress.
Where, for example, in previous times, only about two kilometres of metalled road was built in a whole year, roads of the same length and more were built every month, and in even less time, for several years.
Grid electricity to main towns, water pipelines to large settlements, preparatory infrastructure for exploitation of coal reserves including work by the post-2008 PPP government, rapid proliferation of telecommunication and mobile phones have vastly enhanced mobility, access and information flow. http://www.dawn.com/news/1091961/tharparkar-a-famine-of-facts
Pakistan discovers 'huge' reserves of iron ore
Pakistan on Wednesday said it has discovered major reserves of iron ore as well as copper, silver and gold in its central province of Punjab.
The reserves were found in Chiniot, around 160 kilometres northwest of Lahore, by Chinese group the Metallurgical Cooperation of China.
A senior provincial administrative official told AFP that initial estimates indicated 500 million tonnes of iron ore, a primary ingredient in steelmaking, had been discovered.
He said the Chinese company has expressed interest in setting up a steel mill on the site, adding that the extracted iron had been tested in Swiss and Canadian laboratories, which found 60-65 per cent of it to be high grade.
The official added that silver, copper and gold samples would also be sent for testing soon.
Speaking at the site on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the discovery could help Pakistan's stuttering economy turn a corner and end its “begging bowl” culture.
“It is Allah's blessing that under the lush green fields rich deposits of copper, iron and gold have been found, which will help the country get rid of the 'begging bowl' for good,” Nawaz said.
Conflict, instability, corruption and a chronic energy shortage have hampered Pakistan's economy for years. The IMF granted a $6.6-billion loan to Pakistan in September 2013 on the condition that it carry out extensive economic reforms, particularly in the energy and taxation sectors.
(Reko Diq alone has estimated reserves of two billion tons of copper)
I read this statement in your post and if two billion tons of copper is deposited in Reko Diq then it's worth is nearly 10 trillion dollar according 5000$/ton and I read that this mine life is 56 years so it means nearly we can explore 200$ billion worth of gold and that much money can bring a momentous transformation in Pakistan. BTW do you got this information from a credible source?
Azad #Kashmir: #Pakistan’s treasure chest of rubies worth $500 million http://ara.tv/jns9x via @AlArabiya_Eng
The people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) are sitting on a treasure chest: millions of rubies, estimated to be worth up to half a billion dollars, are lying beneath them.
But archaic tools and a lack of investment in infrastructure and techniques are hampering efforts to transform the area into a significant player in the gem industry.
"Mining is done by small blasts – and we lose 40 to 50 percent of the value of the stones, and secondly due to lack of investment in our corporation we are not making the most of our resources," said Shahid Ayub, Azad Kashmir Mine and Industry Development Company director general.
Just one mine and an exploration site are operational in Kashmir.
It's hard labor at more than 3,500 metres above sea level. But for miners working on the mountains, it is valued work.
"I have been working in this mine for the past four years. For the first two years, I worked here as an intern and after that I got a job. We work here four months in a year,” said Muhammad Azeem, a mine worker.
“I have earned enough money to lead a good life," Azeem added.
The rubies are sold in their raw form at a highly-regulated annual auction.
Many change hands informally too. Last year, a government training center was launched to develop the trade.
"We are providing training and assistance to these people about mining and gemstone development. God willing, soon all of them will be able to extract precious stones by themselves. With the availability of skilled workforce in this field, Azad Kashmir will shortly become an international hub of gemstones," said Imran Zaffar, principal Pakistan Gem and Jewellery Training and Processing centre.
The stones are said to account less than one percent of the region's tax revenue. But hopes are high these rubies will one day help Kashmir sparkle in the international gem industry.
#Tech #economy needs rare earths (#Lithium), and #Afghanistan has got a lot of them. "The #Chinese and the #Pakistanis and the #Russians are very much interested. And China has been dominating the critical, rare strategic metals market for the last decades"https://www.marketplace.org/2021/09/03/afghanistan-has-minerals-tech-economy-needs/
Ryssdal: All right, so make the turn here toward geopolitics for me, and I realize that’s not necessarily your specialty. But if the United States and the U.K. and most of Europe is not in the foreseeable future going to have business dealings with Afghanistan, as it’s run by the Taliban, but the Chinese are and the Russians might, that’s a balance of power thing.
Pitron: The Chinese and the Pakistanis and the Russians are very much interested. And China has been dominating the critical, rare strategic metals market for the last decades. So the fact that this potential is available, at least potentially to the Chinese, shows that after the 19th century, which was dominated by the English with the coal industry, and the 20th century, which was dominated by the Americans, thanks to their domination of the oil industry, then we’re moving to an age of where the Chinese are already controlling the metals industry for the [inaudible] energy revolution.
The United States has pulled out of Afghanistan. But 11 years ago, Pentagon officials and American geologists discovered nearly $1 trillion in mineral deposits there, including elements and metals that are needed to power the growing tech economy. Lithium, for instance, is key material in making batteries for cellphones, laptops and electric vehicles. Getting those minerals out of the ground and building an industry around them is another issue in a country with deep political and economic instability.
“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Guillaume Pitron, a French journalist and author of “The Rare Metals War: The Dark Side of Clean Energy and Digital Technologies,” about the geopolitics of rare materials. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Guillaume Pitron: [Afghanistan] is said to be a country where you can find lots of copper, lots of lithium, rare earths elements, platinum, bauxite and other resources of this kind.
Kai Ryssdal: And the net worth, as it were, of those things even in the ground, before we get to actually getting them out of the ground in Afghanistan, the thing that makes it dynamic right now, is that we more than ever depend on those minerals — the lithium and the cobalt and all of that — for batteries and all of the things we need for this economy right now.
Pitron: The energy transition is a metallic transition. we would like to do away with oil and coal. But on the other side, we’ll have to tap into these minerals. And actually, the International Energy Agency, recently this year, published a report saying that our needs for these commodities will explode in the next decades for making the green revolution possible. And Afghanistan has these resources.
The future of Silicon Valley may lie in the mountains of Afghanistan
United States Geological Survey teams discovered one of the world’s largest untapped reserves of lithium there six years ago (in 2008). The USGS was scouting the volatile country at the behest of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations. Lithium is a soft metal used to make the lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries essential for powering desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. And increasingly, electric cars like Tesla’s.
The vast discovery could very well propel Afghanistan — a war-ravaged land with a population of 31 million largely uneducated Pashtuns and Tajiks, and whose primary exports today are opium, hashish, and marijuana — into becoming the world’s next “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” according to an internal Pentagon memo cited by the New York Times.
Depending on who you talk to, the current lithium global reserves are adequate for at least another generation of lithium-ion battery manufacturers to produce them.
But not everybody thinks so, and some say the light metal compound may someday run dry. That could in turn spell trouble for any company whose business depends on light and portable mobile electronics — unless someone comes up with an alternative to lithium batteries before then.
The experts VentureBeat interviewed pointed to sharp year-on-year increases in the demand for lithium. That’s putting heavy pressure on existing stockpiles.
According to Lithium Americas, a Canadian lithium-mining company with significant business interests in Argentina, lithium demand will more than double in the next 10 years, while lithium prices have nearly quadrupled during the same timeframe.
Tesla, for its part, is in the process of investing up to $5 billion to build its own lithium-ion Gigafactory in Texas, a plant capable of churning out 500,000 expensive battery packs a year by 2020 for its line of zero-emission, all-electric cars.
A Tesla spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.
As a potential source to feed that demand, enter Afghanistan.
“At some point, if present trends continue, demand [for lithium] will outstrip the supply. And again, at some point, the market for lithium-ion could get so big that it actually affects the supply chain,” said Donald R. Sadoway, a professor of the Materials Chemistry Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT.
Looking at Afghanistan, Sadoway says the war-ravaged nation, which has no effective mining infrastructure in place, may well be attractive to the world’s mining outfits.
“In this regard,” Sadoway, one of the world’s foremost experts on energy sources, says, “the deposits in Afghanistan could be important.”
Andrew Chung, a venture capitalist with Khosla Ventures in Silicon Valley who has invested in multiple startups producing alternative batteries, says lithium-ion batteries are limited in their lifetime cycles, scalability, and cost. Despite this, Chung says, he can understand how the untapped reserves of Afghan lithium are now an increasing focus.
“It is an issue of the supply chain, whether it’s Afghanistan or other [countries]. There is a finite supply, and lithium-ion will continue to be the [power] choice for the next decade,” Chung said.
Some of the Valley’s biggest and most powerful tech companies either declined to comment for this story or never returned calls. But they didn’t deny the importance of lithium-ion batteries.
Taliban rolls out red carpet to China's Belt and Road Initiative - Nikkei Asia
KARACHI -- With the U.S. departed in disarray, Afghanistan's newly ensconced Taliban regime is looking to China for major investments in the coming six months, but experts expect Beijing to tread a very cautious line.
Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, said earlier this week that the new government wants to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, the flagship $50 billion Pakistan component of China's Belt and Road Initiative.
A source with close links to the Taliban told Nikkei Asia on condition of anonymity that China has been courting the Taliban since 2018 on possible projects in Afghanistan. "There are verbal agreements between Beijing and Taliban about investments," he said. "Once the Taliban government gains global recognition, China will start building infrastructure projects in war-torn Afghanistan."
On Wednesday, a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan's neighbors -- China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan -- was hosted by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan's foreign minister.
"The situation in Afghanistan remains complex and fluid," Qureshi later tweeted. "We hope the political situation stabilizes leading to normalcy soon. The new reality requires us to discard old lenses, develop new insights and proceed with a realistic, pragmatic approach," he said.
During the meeting, China promised emergency aid of $31 million to Afghanistan, including grain, winter supplies, vaccines and medicines. "What China can do now is maintain necessary contacts with the Taliban in the fields of normal economic activities and people-to-people exchanges," reported Global Times, Beijing's English-language mouthpiece.
Andrew Small, a senior trans-Atlantic fellow with the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund, believes the Taliban's immediate investment requests give China leverage. Beijing will provide some immediate economic support, but proceed to greater involvement more gingerly.
"Beijing will be happy to dangle promises and engage in talks on the BRI and CPEC extensions, but will not move ahead with anything on the ground until they are confident of political and security conditions," Small told Nikkei.
Experts note the Taliban's limited investor choices. "It is to be expected that China would be willing to help the Taliban government after the U.S. pulled out of a region that is too important for China to leave alone," Hasaan Khawar, a public policy analyst in Islamabad, told Nikkei.
China is well aware of Afghanistan's vast mineral resources that include the Mes Aynak copper mine, which is reputed to be the second-largest in the world in terms of reserved volume. China Metallurgical Group bought the exploration lease on the massive deposit in 2008 for $3 billion, but work has been stalled for more than a decade because of security concerns. The idle mine is a salutary reminder to China of how big investments can easily fail in such an unstable setting.
"Copper is essential for electric wiring, electronic products, motors and many other products manufactured in China," Jeremy Garlick, assistant professor of international relations at the University of Economics in Prague, told Nikkei. "The Chinese will not rush to put their heads in the lion's mouth -- I would expect them to weigh any decision to get more deeply involved in Afghanistan carefully."
The problem of militancy and the use of Afghan soil as a launchpad for global terrorism is the biggest concern for the global community, including China. Experts believe that unless the Taliban controls this problem, China will be unable to invest -- however much it wants to.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has performed a successful test flight at a Chinese-built runway in the mineral-rich region of Balochistan’s Saindak town, China Urdu reported.
The development comes a day after Juzzak Airport in the Chagai district of Balochistan was made operational for flights to and from Karachi mainly for the Chinese engineers working on projects in the region.
Last month, the Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was informed that the progress on New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) was on track and it would be fully operational by September 2023.
In a meeting of the committee presided over by Sher Ali Arbab, the Aviation Division secretary told the panel that the project, which was originally expected to be completed by next year, has been postponed till October 2023.
The China Airport Construction Group informed the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) about the new time limit for the project, deferring the project funded by the Chinese company.
According to the document obtained by The Express Tribune, the passenger terminal building of the project will be completed by June 2023; work related to air traffic control will be completed by March 2023 while the overall construction of the airport will finish by October 2023.
Barrick Gold Corporation (GOLD) Q4 2021 Earnings Call Transcript
Tanya Jakusconek -- Scotiabank -- Analyst
OK. And just my last question, if I could, just on your copper strategy. Just wanted to understand a little bit how Reko Diq fits into that strategy and just where we are on this asset?
Mark Bristow -- Chief Executive Officer
So right now, the asset that we have is the arbitration award of which we share with Antofagasta and ourselves, Barrick. We are working and have been in its general knowledge in the spirit of Barrick philosophy of how we can convert that into something that's more meaningful. And that's something that doesn't end up with the Pakistan government having to write out a big check without any benefits. And Reko Diq is an opportunity that we've been working on whereby everyone will benefit.
Our shareholders, of course, and same with the Balochistan government and the Pakistan government. And that's really where I would want to stop it because there's still a lot of work and water to flow under the bridge, but that's the tactic. And as I said, and I think I told Greg at this conference that it's a real asset. And we would like as miners to convert that into our mining asset.
It's one of the better ones around. Otherwise, we end up in conflict and that's not a good thing to do with your host country or potential host country.
Tanya Jakusconek -- Scotiabank -- Analyst
OK. So is it fair to say that this is a ways out in terms of fitting into your 10-year pipeline?
Mark Bristow -- Chief Executive Officer
It would be fantastic in our 10-year pipeline. It's a real deal.
Graham Shuttleworth -- Senior Executive Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer
But it's not in our 10-year pipeline.
Mark Bristow -- Chief Executive Officer
But it's not in -- yes, sorry, it's not in our 10-year pipeline right now.
Tanya Jakusconek -- Scotiabank -- Analyst
I understand that. But in terms of resolving everything and then probably having a feasibility study and other stuff in country, would you be able to even fit it into your 10-year pipeline?
Mark Bristow -- Chief Executive Officer
Tanya Jakusconek -- Scotiabank -- Analyst
OK. Great. Thank you.
Mark Bristow -- Chief Executive Officer
Our next question is from Mike Parkin with National Bank Financial. Please go ahead.
Mike Parkin -- National Bank Financial -- Analyst
Hey, guys. Congrats on the good quarter. Just a question with respect to the performance dividend. Does that indicate kind of a comfort level with carrying debt on the balance sheet? Or are you agnostic to where the debt is given that performance dividend is linked to the net cash position?
Mark Bristow -- Chief Executive Officer
So I think you've just answered your own question, Mark. Net cash means there's no net debt. And so the way it's designed is that if we have -- because what we've done initially is our debt to pay it all up is expensive. Hopefully, it gets cheaper and cheaper with the growing interest rates.
But we've offset it. We've got cash balancing the debt. And what we've said is anything above 0. So from zero to $500 million net cash payout of $0.05 dividend and then $500 million to $1 billion and $1 billion to $1.5 billion.
And so that's -- and what it does is it's -- it really is -- it's a nonnegotiable process because if we're investing heavily in a big project, for example, and we drive -- we increased the net debt to fund that. Then we are investing our shareholders' money into that project. And given our return criteria, we think most -- in fact, more than most of our shareholders would support that. If we don't and we build cash on the balance sheet, we make sure that we don't create an easy balance sheet and that on a formulaic basis money goes back to shareholders.
#Pakistan's top court endorses #Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold's $10 billion #investment at Reko Diq in #Balochistan. It is one of the world's largest underdeveloped sites of #copper and #gold deposits.
Pakistan's Supreme Court endorsed on Friday a settlement for Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) to resume mining at the Reko Diq project, one of the world's largest underdeveloped sites of copper and gold deposits, it said in an order.
The endorsement was a condition of the settlement for Barrick to resume work on the project in the southwestern province of Balochistan, bordering Afghanistan and Iran, in which it will invest $10 billion.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the head of a five-judge panel, read out the operative part of the brief order in court.
"The agreements ... have not been found by us to be unconstitutional or illegal on the parameters and grounds spelt out," read the order seen by Reuters.
President Arif Alvi had asked the court to review the deal.
In an out of court agreement this year, Barrick Gold ended a long-running dispute with Pakistan, and agreed to restart development.
Under the deal, the company withdrew its case in an international arbitration court, which had slapped a penalty of $11 billion on Pakistan for suspending the contracts of the company and its partners in 2011.
The company's licence to mine the untapped deposits was cancelled after the Supreme Court ruled illegal the award granted to it and its partner, Chile's Antofagasta (ANTO.L).
Antofagasta had agreed to exit the project, saying its growth strategy was focused on production of copper and by-products in the Americas.
Pakistan's mineral-rich province of Balochistan is home to both Islamist militants and separatist Baloch insurgents, who have engaged in insurgency against the government for decades, demanding a greater share of the region's resources.
Barrick Gold strikes final deal with Pakistan for Reko Diq project
Published by Joe Toft, Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review
Barrick Gold Corporationhas announced that it has completed the reconstitution of the Reko Diq project, having received a favourable opinion from the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the required legislation having been passed into law.
One of the largest undeveloped copper-gold projects in the world, Reko Diq is owned 50% by Barrick, 25% by three federal state-owned enterprises, 15% by the Province of Balochistan on a fully funded basis and 10% by the Province of Balochistan on a free carried basis.
Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow said the completion of the legal processes was a key step in progressing the development of Reko Diq into a world-class, long-life mine which would substantially expand the company’s strategically significant copper portfolio and benefit its Pakistani stakeholders for generations to come.
“We are currently updating the project’s 2010 feasibility and 2011 feasibility expansion studies. This should be completed by 2024, with 2028 targeted for first production,” Bristow said.
“With its unique combination of large scale, low strip and good grade, Reko Diq is expected to have a life of at least 40 years. We envisage a truck-and-shovel open cast operation with processing facilities producing a high-quality copper-gold concentrate. We expect it to be constructed in two phases with a combined process capacity of 80 million tpy.
Reko Diq will be a major contributor to Pakistan’s economy which is expected to have a transformative impact on the underdeveloped Balochistan province where, in addition to the economic benefits it will generate, the mine will also create jobs, promote the growth of a regional economy and invest in development programs. The province’s interest in the mine will be fully funded, which means that Balochistan will reap the dividends, royalties and other benefits of its 25% shareholding without having to contribute financially to its construction and operation.
“Reko Diq’s ownership structure is a further manifestation of Barrick’s commitment to partnership with its host countries and communities and to sharing the value our operations create fairly with all our stakeholders,” Bristow said.
“We’re making sure that Balochistan and its people will see these benefits quickly. Starting early next year, Barrick will implement a range of social development programs prioritising the improvement of healthcare, education, vocational training, food security and the provision of potable water. Our investment in these is expected to amount to around US$70 million over the feasibility and construction period. In addition, Reko Diq will advance royalties to the government of Balochistan of up to US$50 million until commercial production starts.”
During peak construction the project is expected to employ 7500 people and once in production it will create around 4000 long-term jobs. As elsewhere in the group, Barrick prioritises the employment of local people and host country nationals.
Bristow said Barrick already had the industry's best gold assets and the addition of Reko Diq would promote its copper portfolio into the world-class league, accelerating the company towards its goal of creating the world's most valued gold and copper mining business.
Pakistan is sitting on a gold mine
The Reko Diq mine, renowned for its massive gold and copper deposits, is thought to contain the fifth-largest gold deposit in the world.
Reko Diq is a small desert village in the Balochistan district of Chagai, 70 kilometers northwest of Naukundi and close to Pakistan's border with Iran and Afghanistan. This region is situated within the Tethyan belt, which extends from Turkey and Iran to Pakistan. Reko Diq, which in Balochi means "sandy mountain," is also the name of an extinct volcano.
The Reko Diq mine, renowned for its massive gold and copper deposits, is thought to contain the fifth-largest gold deposit in the world. The mine is in a small desert area in the northeast of Balochistan, near the border with Iran and Afghanistan.
600,000 tons of concentrate produce an estimated 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold on a yearly basis. The annual profit from the mines is estimated by the TCC to be approximately $1.14 billion for copper and $2.50 billion for gold, totaling $3.64 billion annually. Independent estimates suggest the number is as high as $500 billion, which is significantly higher than the TCC's estimation of $200 billion.
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