Pakistan province threatens cancellation of Barrick-Antofagasta copper-gold project

Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan plans to cancel a $3 billion joint venture copper and gold project owned by Canada's Barrick Gold and Chilean copper miner Antofagasta. The two companies are partners in Tethyan Copper Co  which has a 75% interest in the Reko Diq project and holds the exploration license for the site. The provincial government holds the remaining 25%.

According to Reuters, cancellation of the license is "meant to ease anger in Pakistan's poorest province over outsider exploitation of its natural resource" but would damage Pakistan's image as a destination for foreign investment.

"The cabinet has said they wanted to cancel the exploration license but it has not been finalized," Mushtaq Ahmed, secretary for the provincial mining ministry, told the newsagency. He said there was a chance the deal would not be canceled, and that the situation should be clarified in coming days.

The deposit holds more than 11 billion pounds of copper and 9 million ounces of gold.