Gold, Copper and Rare Earths at Pakistan's Reko Diq Could Exceed $500 Billion


The sale of Reko Diq mining rights is currently being reviewed by Pakistan Supreme Court in response to allegations of lack of transprarency. The entire discussion in the courtroom is primarily centered on valuations and estimates of traditional metals like gold and copper. The second topic of discussion in the apex court is about the absence of any contract provisions for development of downstream job-creating industries to extract these metals.

What is conspicuously absent from the debate is the potential for extraction at Reqo Diq of rare earth elements that are even more precious and in much greater and growing demand for the latest high-tech equipment and batteries for all-electric autos, communications, and other applications than traditional precious metals like gold and silver. It is the estimates of these rare earths at Reqo Diq that could put the value of the contract at considerably more than the current best estimates of $500 billion for copper and gold.

Recent trade disputes between China and its major trading partners in the United States, Europe and Japan have been the result of China restricting rare earth exports.

A current production Toyota Prius nickel metal hydride battery pack uses 30 kilograms of nickel, 2 kilograms of cobalt and 12 kilograms of lanthanum because the active hydrogen storage alloy in the battery is either LaNi4.5Co0.5 or (Ce, La, Nd, Pr)Ni5. The Prius assembly plant in Japan has so far used one and 1.5 million rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery packs and achieved with them some of the lowest numbers of service issues ever seen in the OEM automotive industry. In fact most of the original Prius rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery packs have exceeded their 8-year 100,000 mile warranty and are still functioning, according to Resource Investor website.



China controls 95% of the world’s supply of rare earth elements, a class of ores used not just in Toyota Prius electric motors and batteries but in a wide range of high-technology applications, from sonar systems to wind turbines, mobile phones and fluorescent lights.

All this gives China an extraordinary - some might say unfair - advantage to lead the race to dominate the manufacture of cutting-edge technology, according to the Wall Street Journal. Even before any major technology partnership announcements, there are reports that the legendary US investor Warren Buffet is investing in BYD, an obscure Chinese battery, mobile phone, and electric car company.

Here is how an expert who asked not to be named explained the mining potential in Balochistan:

"The Pegmatite rock that covers much of Balochistan (and other parts of Pakistan as well) has several different gems, in it which have been mined for a long time. These are easy to visualize as they differ in color from the rest of the rock, and can be removed with a small geologist's hammer. Pegmatite, though, also contains uranium which can be separated using a Geiger Counter, and rare metals and rare earths. Some of these like Lithium can be separated relatively easily. Others like Samarium and Dysprosium are vastly more difficult to separate because you need X-Ray equipment to help identify them. Also, their presence is very small - that is why they are classed as "rare." The presence of many of these metals was not known to science until recently and until the Japanese began to use them in electronics, hardly any effort was made to mine them. Now, of course, they are all the rage because they have been found especially useful in the latest "green" generation equipment as well as in defense and other applications. Indeed, until China banned their sale to Japan, no one really even bothered about them - it suited the Japanese to remain quiet as they were getting very good prices for these resources from an unaware Chinese, and the same thing is now happening in other parts of the world, in Pakistan in this case.

Much of the testing that is involved here is difficult and requires very advanced technical equipment, and even methods like gas spectrometry etc may not help identify materials that exist in extremely small percentages in soil or rock. In India for example, some of these metal reserves were not known until the USGS first and then the Russians helped analyze soil and rocks across the country. If nothing else, the Indians formed a government owned company called Indian Rare earths Limited which comes under the Atomic Energy Commission and is directly under the Prime Minister of India. They do seem to have handled the conservation and exploitation of these reserves far better than is being done in Pakistan."


Given the potential for tremendous mineral wealth at Reqo Diq, Saindak and other similar sites in Balochistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, it is extremely important for the Supreme Court to insist on an independent panel of experts to evaluate it, and to base court orders on the findings of such panel. How the Supreme Court tackles these issues now will have a significant impact on the future well-being of Pakistan in terms of the availablity of public funds for spending on education, health care and other badly needed human development projects in Balochistan and elsewhere in the country.

 

Click here for a video clip from GeoTV on Reko Diq.

 
Related Links:

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Pakistan's Mineral Wealth

China's Electric Ambitions

Buffet Investing in Chinese Battery Maker

Remote Sensing Oil and Gas Fields in Pakistan

Pakistan's Mineral Yearbook 2005

US, NATO Fighting to Stalemate in Afghanistan

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

Abundant, Cheap Coal Electricity in Pakistan

Car Battery Battle Between Li-on and Nickel Metal Hydride

Auto Industry Prospects in India, Pakistan and China

 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on May 20, 2023 at 4:28pm

Pakistan is sitting on a gold mine


https://english.almayadeen.net/articles/analysis/pakistan-is-sittin...


The Reko Diq mine, renowned for its massive gold and copper deposits, is thought to contain the fifth-largest gold deposit in the world.


Reko Diq is a small desert village in the Balochistan district of Chagai, 70 kilometers northwest of Naukundi and close to Pakistan's border with Iran and Afghanistan. This region is situated within the Tethyan belt, which extends from Turkey and Iran to Pakistan. Reko Diq, which in Balochi means "sandy mountain," is also the name of an extinct volcano.

The Reko Diq mine, renowned for its massive gold and copper deposits, is thought to contain the fifth-largest gold deposit in the world. The mine is in a small desert area in the northeast of Balochistan, near the border with Iran and Afghanistan.

600,000 tons of concentrate produce an estimated 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold on a yearly basis. The annual profit from the mines is estimated by the TCC to be approximately $1.14 billion for copper and $2.50 billion for gold, totaling $3.64 billion annually. Independent estimates suggest the number is as high as $500 billion, which is significantly higher than the TCC's estimation of $200 billion.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 25, 2023 at 8:36pm

Rich lode of EV metals could boost Taliban and its new Chinese partners
The Pentagon dubbed Afghanistan ‘the Saudi Arabia of lithium.’ Now, it is American rivals that are angling to exploit those coveted reserves.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2023/ev-lithium-af...

In interviews, Taliban officials, Chinese entrepreneurs and their Afghan intermediaries described a frenzy reminiscent of a 19th-century gold rush. Globe-trotting Chinese traders packed into Kabul’s hotels, racing to source lithium in the hinterlands. Chinese executives filed into meetings with Taliban leaders, angling for exploration rights. In January, Taliban officials arrested a Chinese businessman for allegedly smuggling 1,000 tons of lithium ore from Konar province to China via Pakistan.


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In late 2021, Yu recalled, he saw an influx of Chinese seeking opportunities in Afghanistan’s postwar vacuum, just as he did 20 years earlier. Within months, according to Yu and other Chinese residents, more than 300 of their compatriots had descended on Kabul. Some carried passports from Pakistan, Sierra Leone or other countries where they had immigrated to mine. Others showed up carrying a few packs of instant noodles in their backpacks, “wanting to get into the battery business,” Yu recalled.

--------

These days, a small, dedicated group of Chinese miners is still in Kabul waiting for the lithium trade to resume.

One of them is Yue, a gruff, chain-smoking native of Manchuria who has mined in Pakistan, Russia and Indonesia. He came to Afghanistan in late 2021 and plans to stay, he explained, because the Taliban is working hard to ensure foreigners’ security and even assigned him his own bodyguards. Afghanistan’s mineral potential is too great to walk away from, he added.
------------

But now, in a great twist of modern Afghan history, it is the Taliban — which overthrew the U.S.-backed government two years ago — that is finally looking to exploit those vast lithium reserves, at a time when the soaring global popularity of electric vehicles is spurring an urgent need for the mineral, a vital ingredient in their batteries. By 2040, demand for lithium could rise 40-fold from 2020 levels, according to the International Energy Agency.

Afghanistan remains under intense international pressure — isolated politically and saddled with U.S. and multilateral sanctions because of human rights concerns, in particular the repression of women, and Taliban links to terrorism. The tremendous promise of lithium, however, could frustrate Western efforts to squeeze the Taliban into changing its extremist ways. And with the United States absent from Afghanistan, it is Chinese companies that are now aggressively positioning themselves to reap a windfall from lithium here — and, in doing so, further tighten China’s grasp on much of the global supply chain for EV minerals.

The surging demand for lithium is part of a worldwide scramble for a variety of metals used in the manufacture of EVs, widely considered crucial to the green-energy transition. But the mining and processing of minerals such as nickel, cobalt and manganese often come with unintended consequences — for instance, harm to workers, surrounding communities and the environment. In Afghanistan, those consequences look to be geopolitical: the potential enrichment of the largely shunned Taliban and another leg up for China in a fierce, strategic competition.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 6, 2023 at 4:03pm

Reko Diq #Copper Mine in #Pakistan's #Balochistan has potential to be one of world’s biggest suppliers of metal needed for transition to clean #energy. #Canada's Barrick is investing in it. #SaudiArabia's #investment fund has also expressed interest. https://www.ft.com/content/7a1db3cf-a61b-4ef5-b90d-ea98fe530295


“Reko Diq is one of the bigger copper-gold undeveloped projects in the world,” said Mark Bristow, chief executive of Barrick, which aims to start mining in 2028 subject to an ongoing feasibility study. “It’s a very big deal. Any copper mine right now is a big deal.”

The project highlights how the copper shortfall is pushing miners into ever trickier markets in search of supply. Pakistan’s repeated political and economic crises have scared away all but the most determined foreign investors, and local authorities had blocked an earlier attempt involving Barrick to mine Reko Diq.


---
Bristow argues that the project, in which Barrick has a 50 per cent stake alongside the Pakistan and Balochistan governments, will bring much-needed development to the region.

“Mining, when it goes into emerging markets, is obsessed with getting its money back,” he said. “We’ve learned that you start paying benefits and dividends early on.”

As countries transition to clean energy sources, copper — whose conductive properties make it crucial to transporting electricity — is only expected to become more important to the global economy.

But with supply from incumbent mines in countries such as Chile and Peru stalling, an estimated $118bn of investment by 2030 is needed to plug a supply gap that will by next decade be equivalent to 35 Reko Diq-sized projects, according to analysts at CRU Group.


Th a record of operating in riskier markets such as Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While Reko Diq adds “a lot of uncertainty” for Barrick investors, “Barrick is no stranger to frontier jurisdictions”, said Canaccord Genuity analyst Carey MacRury.

Another factor that could help steer the Reko Diq project is the presence of a new investor. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and state mining company Ma’aden have expressed interest in a stake. Analysts said the involvement of one of Pakistan’s most important allies would help shield the project from future political U-turns.

If successful, the mine could turn the company into one of the world’s largest copper producers. Diversifying its portfolio into copper is particularly important for gold miners such as Barrick to stay relevant with investors focused on environmental, social and governance issues, since the company’s core product plays no role in the energy transition.

Reko Diq sits along the largely untapped south Asian leg of a rock formation from Europe to south-east Asia that is believed to hold rich copper deposits. Analysts believe there is the potential for more mines.

Ahsan Iqbal, who recently stepped down as Pakistan’s planning minister and worked on the project, argued that Reko Diq would “put Balochistan on the mining map of the world”.

----------


Reko Diq “is 50 miles from Afghanistan and 40 miles from Iran”, one person involved with the project said. “So it will be a target.”

For support, Barrick has turned to Pakistan’s powerful army, which helps control the country’s politics and helped negotiate last year’s deal to revive the project, according to a person involved.

Pakistan’s army chief also this month attended a local mining conference alongside Bristow. “The military are a steadying hand,” Bristow said. “They are absolutely essential on the security side.”

Yet rights groups have repeatedly accused the army of abuses in Balochistan, including extrajudicial executions, allegations it denies.

Bristow has welcomed the potential Saudi interest in Reko Diq and dismissed hand-wringing over whether he can see through the project.

“When you look at the world, it is more complex than when I started,” he said. “Gone are the days that you can control a mining company from a multistorey, cushy building in the developed world.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 1:00pm

Barrick CEO says big miners showing interest in Pakistan’s Reko Diq project


https://www.arabnews.com/node/2377731/pakistan


ISLAMABAD: Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow has said there is newfound “interest” from multinational mining firms to develop the $7 billion Reko Diq gold and copper mine in southwestern Pakistan, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

Barrick Gold owns a 50 percent stake in Pakistan’s Reko Diq mine, with the remaining 50 percent owned by the governments of Pakistan and the province of Balochistan. Barrick considers the mine one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas.

“They have an interest,” Bristow said in an interview to Bloomberg, declining to name the mining companies interested in Reko Diq or what he meant by “interest.”

“Of course, they’re a lot more conservative than I am, but as we open up these areas, whatever way you look at copper, there’s not enough of it.”

Last month Barrick said it was open to bringing in Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund as one of its partners in the Reko Diq project but has dismissed reports it was in talks with fellow Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals on a possible acquisition.

Barrick won’t be diluting its equity in the project but “will not mind” if Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) wants to buy out the equity of the Pakistan government, Bristow had said in a Reuters interview.

“There is a strong relationship between Saudi and Pakistan and since we control the project we have the first right of refusal,” the CEO added, saying Barrick would support PIF coming into the mine through Pakistan’s 25 percent equity stake.

In an out of court agreement last year, Barrick Gold ended a long-running dispute with Pakistan, and agreed to restart development on the mine. Under the deal, the company withdrew its case in an international arbitration court, which had slapped a penalty of $11 billion on Pakistan for suspending the contracts of the company and its partners in 2011.

The company’s license to mine the untapped deposits was canceled after the Supreme Court ruled illegal the award granted to it and its partner, Chile’s Antofagasta. Antofagasta had agreed to exit the project, saying its growth strategy was focused on production of copper and by-products in the Americas.

Pakistan’s mineral-rich province of Balochistan is home to separatist militants who have engaged in insurgency against the government for decades, demanding a greater share of the region’s resources.

-------

Pakistan's PM invites Rio Tinto to explore investment opportunities - MINING.COM

https://www.mining.com/web/pakistans-pm-invites-rio-tinto-to-explor...

Pakistan’s Prime Minister extended an invitation to Rio Tinto’s CEO to visit the country to explore investment opportunities further in a meeting in New York on Thursday.


The CEO of Rio Tinto Group said his team would liaise with the concerned authorities to explore investment opportunities in Pakistan’s mineral and mining sector, according to a post by the PM’s office on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 16, 2023 at 11:05am

Gold Billionaire Sawiris Eyes Stake in $7 Billion Reko Diq Mine


https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gold-billionaire-sawiris-eyes-stake-...

(Bloomberg) -- Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, who has forged a fortune in telecom and gold, is eyeing an investment in Barrick Gold Corp.’s $7 billion Reko Diq copper-gold project as he looks to expand his business in Pakistan.

Reko Diq, in the Balochistan region that borders Afghanistan and Iran, is one the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits, capable of producing 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold a year for more than half a century. The project is jointly owned by Barrick and Pakistan.

Asked whether he was interested in investing, Sawiris, a major investor in gold miners including Endeavour Mining Plc through his La Mancha Resources Inc., said “yes.”

“I have an advantage compared to other investors. I know the country, I have friends here,” Sawiris said in an interview in Islamabad. “We want to be on the Pakistani side, because I have been here for 25 years.”

He did not elaborate on the potential scale of the investment, but added there were few other options, in part due to the lack of geological data: “We tried here to look but unfortunately there is only this one big project.”

Last month, Barrick Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said he was seeing newfound “interest” in Reko Diq from multinational mining firms that have to date been hesitant to venture into tricky regions of the world. The mine has also attracted interest from Saudi Arabia, whose presence could serve to stabilize the project in a contentious part of the world.

Pakistan’s state-owned energy exploration companies, which have a stake in the project, said last month they were looking into “potential engagement” with sovereign foreign investors, without giving details.

Sawiris’ Ora Developers is separately working on a luxury housing project, Eighteen, and he earlier set up one of Pakistan’s first mobile phone companies, Mobilink, now owned by Veon Ltd., and the nation’s largest cellular firm by subscriber numbers.

Pakistan’s lengthy, difficult official procedures, an unstable currency and capital restrictions are hurdles for investment, but Sawiris said he remained optimistic.

“If there is concrete in my way, I’ll drill through it and I’ll go,” he said. “I have never let anybody in my life hold me back from what I wanted to achieve.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 3, 2023 at 4:28pm

Saudis In Talks With Pakistan on Reko Diq, Barrick CEO Says


https://www.arabnews.com/node/2402616/press-review


Bloomberg reported Saudi Arabia is in ongoing talks with Pakistan to buy part of the government’s stake in a $7 billion copper project jointly owned with Barrick Gold Corp., according to the head of the mining company.

--------------

GOLDSaudi Arabia wants to buy major untapped copper-gold deposit in Pakistan, says Barrick Gold CEO
Barrick says the project will rank among the world’s top 10 copper producers when it reaches full production

https://mugglehead.com/saudi-arabia-wants-to-buy-major-untapped-cop...

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to buy one of the largest underdeveloped copper-gold projects in Pakistan which is partially owned by the gold giant Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE: GOLD) (TSX: ABX).

“Saudi wants to buy some stake (in Reko Diq). We don’t know how much. So, those conversations are ongoing, and we are supportive of them, but we’re not there to get into the middle of it,” said Barrick’s CEO Mark Bristow in a Reuters interview following the release of Barrick’s Q3 2023 results.

As part of the proposed agreement, Saudi Arabia would purchase a stake in Reko Diq in collaboration with the Pakistani government. Barrick owns 50 per cent of the project, while the government and the province of Balochistan own the remainder.

“That’s something that is in the hands of the Pakistan government to come to a decision on,” Bristow told Reuters. “We would support any decision that’s made by the Pakistan government with the Saudis.”

The Reko Diq $7 billion project is located in the province of Balochistan, Pakistan and is set to be constructed in 2025 and targets production by 2028. Barrick says the project will rank among the world’s top 10 copper producers when it reaches full production.

Naguib Sawaris, an Egyptian gold billionaire, said in September he wanted to buy a piece of Reko Diq but Bristow dismissed his intention.

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