LONDON May 8 Canada's Barrick Gold and
Chile's Antofagasta have given up hope of mining Reko
Diq, a disputed but promising copper and gold project in
Pakistan's poorest region of Baluchistan, and will demand
Reko Diq was meant to be the biggest foreign investment in
Pakistan's mining sector. But development has been frozen since
2011 after the provincial government refused a mining license
for the venture jointly owned by Barrick and Antofagasta -
Tethyan Copper Company - months after a request was submitted.
Tethyan began international arbitration proceedings in
"Recent developments have regrettably compelled Tethyan to
withdraw the request for specific performance... While we have
long hoped to mine Reko Diq, as is Tethyan's right, the conduct
of Pakistan and Baluchistan has made that goal impracticable,"
Tethyan's Chief Executive, Tim Livesey, said on Wednesday.
"We will pursue our claims for monetary damages, including
lost profits for the mining operations, in the international
After years of inaction, Wednesday's decision is unlikely to
come as a significant surprise. Prices have weakened and miners
have been retreating from major greenfield projects in tough
It is instead likely to add fuel to the argument of many
investors who want major mining companies to steer clear of
Barrick and Antofagasta have invested more than $220 million
in the Reko Diq project, in which the two companies jointly
owned a 75 percent stake and the exploration license for the
site. The provincial government held the remaining 25 percent.
The mine had been projected to cost some $3.3 billion,
although that was expected to climb given rising costs,
particularly in remote locations like Baluchistan. It was
expected to generate a huge amount of much-needed foreign direct
investment for Pakistan.