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$11 billion deal restores work at world’s largest gold mine

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Barrick Gold has ended a longstanding dispute with Pakistan and will now begin developing one of the world’s largest gold and copper mining projects.

Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said that under the out-of-court settlement, $11 billion, which is a fine and other obligations imposed on Pakistan by a World Bank arbitration tribunal, will be waived.

The Rico Deck project in southwestern Pakistan, which has one of the world’s largest untapped copper-gold reserves, was halted in 2011 after Pakistan refused to grant a license to develop it to Chile’s Barrick Gold and Antofagasta. .

Barrick said in a statement that it will operate the project, receiving a mining concession, exploration license and surface rights.

In a separate statement, Antofagasta said it has agreed to exit the project as its growth strategy now focuses on copper production and by-products in the Americas.

“The new venture will be 50 percent owned by Barik Gold. The remaining 50 percent will be owned by Pakistan and divided equally between the federal government and the Balochistan provincial government,” said a statement issued by the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office after the signing ceremony in Islamabad.

The joint venture between Barrick Gold and Antofagasta discovered the huge mineral reserves more than ten years ago at the foot of an extinct volcano in the Baluchistan region, on Pakistan’s border with Iran and Afghanistan.

The company said it has invested more than $220 million.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry said Russia produced 346.42 tons of gold in 2021, up from 340.17 tons in 2020.

The country also produced 945.70 tonnes of silver last year, up from 965.73 tonnes from January to the end of December 2020, the ministry added.

At the latest close, gold headed for its biggest weekly drop in nearly four months on Friday after demand for the safe-haven metal took a hit on hopes of progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talks as well as by the consequences of a US interest rate hike.

And the price of gold in spot transactions fell 0.7 percent to $1,929.56 an ounce (per ounce), hurt by a stronger dollar.

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