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Reko Diq, TCC and the Future of Baloch



By Gwaraam Baloch

posted at: http://balochunity.org/opinions/2226/

Reko Diq gold-cum-copper project is the second largest project of Asia and the fifth largest copper deposit in world. This project is located in District Chagai, Balochistan. It is a joint venture between Government of Balochistan (25%) and TCC, an Australian firm (75 %). TCC is owned by two companies, Antofagasta Minerals of Chili and Barrick Gold of Canada. Each has 37.5% shares in TCC. The only exploration agreement (which is commonly known as Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement has been settled with TCC which is going to be end in February, 2011.

The Balochistan government intends to develop the Reko Diq Project by itself and Chief Minister of  the province, Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, has declared this plan in many press briefings. The government of Balochistan is using all such resources which could help it in fully disagreement with TCC while on the other hand TCC is not unwilling to say goodbye to this project at any cost. It is also heard that feasibility report on Reko Diq has been completed and TCC is going to submit it to the government of Balochistan very soon.

The Reko Diq agreement is settled out between GoB and TCC or not, who will be the winner of this tug of war, the upcoming time will decide it.  The main question is: What will be future of Baloch in this project? Will this project be in the benefit of the Baloch nation? Will its output be the same as of Saindak, Gawader, Sui and other mega projects? The expected but actually the confirmed answer of this question will be a clear “YES” because in this era of occupation of Balochistan and enslavement of Baloch Nation by Pakistan, Baloch nation cannot even think of any betterment.

Baloch nation is busy in a war with its enemy for its liberation which will continue till the ending of this occupation and regaining of the Free Baloch State. While it will be very complex for any company whether it will be Pakistan, TCC or any other company to work in such conflict zone Balochistan where an open war is being fought against the Pakistani government. If international investors want to explore and exploit the Baloch resources then they will need to deal directly with Balochs and have to wait till Baluchistan’s independence.

Does TCC favor Baloch?

Let’s have a look at the current position of Balochs in TCC. It is argued many times by TCC, especially in newspaper statements and in community meetings, that it favors Baloch because it is a Balochi project but the actual situation is different. Reko Diq Project is located in Balochistan while its head office and procurement / logistics offices are in Islamabad and Karachi. More than 95% purchasing is being done from outside Balochistan. TCC proudly claims that there are more than 80% employees are from Balochistan working with TCC. But in actual the majority of this percentage is working on menial labor jobs.

TCC cannot hire labors from outside Balochistan as it will be too expensive for the company. Local labors are working for TCC on very cheap rates. Security Department of TCC has turned into a “No-go-area” for the Balochs because the company sees Balochs as “unreliable”. The packages and privileges of non-Balochs are very striking while Balochs are served cheap packages. The ratio of Baloch employees in TCC contractors is equal to none.

There are a couple of Balochs working as geologist and as managers but with no powers and authorities in their hands to play a role for the welfare of the Balochs. Even non-Balochs are enjoying key posts at Reko Diq site which is located in Balochistan. You won’t find any Baloch on top level management position. The ratio of Baloch employees in Islamabad and Karachi offices is ZERO.

Out of 5-6 consultants, who are basically given the tasks to represent the project, no-one is Baloch. All the decision-makers, key position-holders are sitting in Islamabad and Karachi offices who are the real chess players and Baloch role and position is not more than pawns in this game of TCC. As usual like Pakistan decides the fortune of Baloch nation by sitting in houses in Islamabad, the same way TCC does by establishing its head office in Islamabad and recruiting non-Balochs for deciding the future of Reko Diq which is actually the possession of Baloch nation.

How are Punjabis and non-Balochs going to think of the betterment of Balochs? TCC vociferate of some development activities in nearby localities but these cannot be any substitute of ownership of Reko Diq in any case.TCC needs to treat the Balochs as the owner of the land and stakeholders of the Project. It will have to accept the ownership of Baloch nation on Reko Diq Project. Without taking the Balochs into confidence, no project would be acceptable to Balochs.

Reasons for the cancellation of the agreement

Addressing to press, CM Raisani said that considering the demands of nationalist and the wishes of Baloch, the Reko Diq agreement with foreign firm was canceled. To me, this statement is not more than a white lie. This is true that exploitation of Baloch resources is not in benefit of Baloch nation in current situation. If Raisani cared so much for the wishes of Baloch nation then he would talk about the freedom of Balochs rather than sitting in the lap of establishment and hatching conspiracies against the Baloch nation.

The real wish of Baloch nation is to completely stop exploring and exploiting of Baloch resources. This is not the according to the desire of the Balochs to take the project from one foreign company and handover it to another or to run the project through the Pakistani establishment. Chief Minister Raisani is not so much powerful that he could take such big decision by himself because such decision will badly impact the image of Pakistan among international investors and instead of attracting international investors it will discourage them to invest in Pakistan. There could be couple of reasons behind this cancellation of agreement.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Firstly, to please its Chinese allies because China is also interested to take over this project. It is already operating a gold-cum-copper mining Saindak nearby Reko Diq Project. Saindak lease agreement with MRDL is going to be end in 2012 but it is also heard that they got extension in the lease agreement of Saindak. This is sure that provisional government is not capable to operate such bigger project like Reko Diq because government of Pakistan couldn’t even operate Saindak which is several times smaller in size as compared to Reko Diq.

Secondly, the actual rulers of Pakistan (read the intelligence agencies) who rule the so-called democratic government of Pakistan, could be behind all this game. It is a reality that from day one the secrete services have been ruling Pakistan sometimes on the ground and sometimes behind the scene. The same elements now have some reservations about this project. It could be a matter of safety of atomic assets. They fear that this project could be a part of great game which will cause serious problems for Pakistan, including its disintegration.  They also think that uranium (a metal which is used in atomic bomb) is also found in Reko Diq in large quantity. Therefore,  they want to take this project in their control. The country’s intelligence apparatus is indirectly involved in the matters of this Project.

Thirdly, the agencies are directly involved in Baluchistan’s matters weather the matters all political, social or economic. According to a philosopher, if you want to enslave a nation, then destroy its economy. If today we look at the economical situation of Baloch, it is totally destroyed. The Baloch resources are being exploited for the benefits of Punjabis. Islamabad does not wish that such investment should bring prosperity and economic strengths for the Balochs.

Reko Diq is the first project which lies directly under control of government of Balochistan and profit of 25% shares goes to the treasure of province instead of federal government. How could the federation abdicate the profits from such bigger project? When the question of operating the project by the government comes, federal government involves itself because operating such bigger project is out of range of provisional government.

In this situation whoever will be the exploiter, the project won’t be for benefit of Baloch nation in this era of enslavement.