Fri, 22 Jan 2021

Islamabad [Pakistan], December 25 (ANI): Mining firm Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) on Thursday has approached the High Court of Justice in the British Virgin Islands against Pakistan in the Reko Diq case.

TCC has approached the High Court for the enforcement of the USD 5.97 billion award against Pakistan by an arbitration tribunal of the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)in the Reko Diq case.

Tethyan Copper Company is a 50-50 joint venture of Barrick Gold Corporation of Australia and Antofagasta PLC of Chile whereas the Reko Diq town in Balochistan's Chagai district is popular for its mineral wealth, including gold and copper.

According to details available on TCC's website, Reko Diq Mining Project was to build at a cost of about USD 3.3 billion adding the 1998 agreement with the Balochistan government entitled it to the mining lease, subject only to routine government requirements.

Earlier, on November 20, TCC had moved the high court for the enforcement of the award which includes attachment of the assets belonging to the Pakistan International Airlines Investment Ltd (PIAIL), a company which is also incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Dawn reported.

The Virgin Islands high court on December 16 had passed an ex-parte order regarding the attachment of Pakistan assets.

"Without prejudice to such engagements, Pakistan has reiterated that the government will vigorously pursue proceedings initiated by the company in any jurisdiction and the government reaffirms its commitment to protecting national assets wherever they may be located," Dawn quoted a statement by the Attorney General Pakistan (AGP).

The ICSID had taken up the dispute between Pakistan and the TCC after the latter claimed USD 8.5 billion when the mining authority of Balochistan rejected its application for a multi-million dollar mining lease in the province in 2011, Dawn reported.

The project stalled in November 2011 after the application was rejected. Pakistani officials say the mining lease was terminated by the government because it was secured in a non-transparent manner.

The company had invested USD 220 million in Reko Diq. The Australian mining company sought help from the World Bank arbitration tribunal in 2012, and it ruled against Pakistan in 2017, rejecting an earlier decision by the Supreme Court, Dawn further reported.

In July 2019, the tribunal slapped a whopping USD 5.97 billion award against Pakistan for denying the mining lease to the Australian company.

Meanwhile, the fine, of nearly USD 6 billion, including the damages award and interest, is equal to about two per cent of Pakistan's GDP.

Immediately, the TCC had commenced proceedings for the enforcement of the award. In November 2019, Pakistan had challenged the award and initiated proceedings seeking its annulment.

This year in the month of March, the AGP office announced that it had filed a request on November 8, 2019 for the annulment of the award rendered by the ICSID on July 12, 2019.

Pakistan had also requested a provisional stay on the enforcement of the award issued against the country on November 18, 2019. However, Pakistan was granted the provisional stay upon initiating annulment proceedings.

On September 16, 2020, the tribunal ruled in favour of Pakistan, confirming the stay on the enforcement of the award.

The ICSID is still considering Pakistan's appeal against the penalty over its decision to cancel the Reko Diq mining lease for the TCC and a final hearing will take place in May 2021, Dawn reported. (ANI)

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