In 2022, an agreement was signed between the government of Balochistan and the Canadian conglomerate Barrick Gold Corporation regarding Reko Diq. According to the agreement, the government of Balochistan was to receive twenty-five percent of the shares, the federal government of Pakistan would also get twenty-five percent, and the remaining fifty percent would belong to the investors (Barrick Gold Corporation). As a result, Barrick Gold Corporation was given control of the Reko Diq Mine by the Balochistan government.
The Reko Diq Mine, located in the Chagai district of Balochistan, is one of the world’s largest deposits of gold and copper. Nationalist parties, political and armed freedom seeking organizations, and various groups in Balochistan view projects like Reko Diq, CPEC, and Saindak as exploitative endeavors.
During a recent shareholder meeting of Barrick Gold Corporation in Canada, Baloch activist Latif Johar Baloch expressed concerns to CEO Mark Bristow that the corporation was operating according to the wishes of the Pakistani government and military, without the consent of the local population. However, rather than addressing these concerns, the CEO of Barrick Gold Corporation dismissed the claims and accused the Baloch activist of spreading falsehoods about the agreement.
Given the troubled situation in Balochistan, international companies, as well as China and other countries, have raised concerns about the security of the multi-billion dollar projects in the region. Last year, Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), an alliance of Baloch pro-freedom armed groups, also voiced their apprehensions. Their statement warned Barrick Gold Corporation about the deal, while Baloch armed organizations have been cautioning foreign investors and countries against supporting exploitative projects in Balochistan.
Completing these projects under the war-torn conditions in Balochistan will pose challenges unless the concerns of the Baloch nation are addressed and the consent of representative bodies directly accountable to the Baloch people is obtained. It is crucial for international companies and countries, including Barrick Gold Corporation, to take measures aimed at addressing the concerns of the Baloch nation and initiating direct dialogue. This will help transform the project into a source of development instead of perpetuating bloodshed.