The World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) last year ordered Pakistan to pay damages of $5.84 billion to Tethyan Copper – a joint venture between Chile’s Antofagasta and Canada’s Barrick Gold – for blocking Tethyan from developing the Reko Diq copper asset after it had already sunk more than $220 million into the project in Balochistan.
The ICSID in July 2019 announced $6 billion award against Pakistan which included $4 billion penalty and almost $2 billion in interest as damages payable to Tethyan.
Odds appear to be in favor of a settlement rather than a payout, a DesPardes article wrote after the award was made in July last year.
Tethyan expressed willingness to explore a negotiated settlement thereafter, according to a recent Reuters report.
During his official visit to the US in September last year, PM Khan said he received a message that the chairman of Barrick Gold wanted a meeting with him.
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“The company is interested to resume working on the project and negotiations are under way to bring them back”, Khan said while speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the 1,320-megawatt power plant in Hub, Balochistan– the country’s resource-rich province where Reko Diq copper and gold mines are situated.
Two senior Pakistani officials told the news agency on Thursday that Pakistan is in talks with Tethyan to settle the dispute.
The sources asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
One source said, “We have been engaged in negotiations with parties involved in the Reko Diq dispute”. He is part of the team handling negotiations, and declined to provide further detail.
A second official said the parties have been in talks for an extended period since Tethyan last year.
Law360, a legal news service, this week reported that Tethyan had been given the go-ahead by ICSID to collect half of the arbitration award.
That does not stop the parties on talking for settlement post-award, experts say.
Reko Diq is one of the world’s biggest untappped copper and gold deposits. Development of the asset has been stalled for nearly a decade by the long-running dispute.