A Pakistani consortium is willing to invest about US$1 billion in the Reko Diq copper-gold project, which was once owned by Antofagasta PLC and Barrick Gold Corp., Bloomberg News reported Oct. 25, citing people familiar with the matter.
In July, the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes ordered the Pakistani government to pay US$5.8 billion to Tethyan Copper Co. Pty. Ltd. over the country's 2011 denial of a mining lease to the Antofagasta/Barrick joint venture, which has said it was open to discussing a negotiated settlement.
According to the report, the Yunus Brothers Group that owns Lucky Cement Ltd., Arif Habib Group, Fatima Group and the owners of Liberty Power Tech Ltd make up the consortium, which is willing to undergo a bidding process to acquire the project. Officials of the Balochistan province, who have reportedly met with the consortium, did not answer Bloomberg's requests for comment.
The provincial chief minister has expressed a preference for local companies to take over the project, the report said, citing an earlier story by the Dawn newspaper. China Metallurgical Group Corp., Norinco International Cooperation Ltd. and Saudi Arabia have reportedly expressed interest in the project, which is said to host one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits.