Today, Islamabad finds itself conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the continued existence of these porous borders. Some other Afghan nationals too have been arrested by Pakistan, and it is alleged that they were conducting espionage. Sometime in 2007, TCC prepared a draft agreement for starting mining operations in the Reko Diq area and started a vigorous lobbying campaign to have that agreement signed, said Ahmed Bukhsh Lehri, in a 2012 interview with the Herald. The joint venture could apply for prospecting licences for an area spread over 50 square kilometres as opposed to just 10 kilometres as given in the original rules; within the area covered by the licences, the joint venture would have absolute monopoly and could prospect for and explore any minerals therein – not just gold and copper; the government lost many of its rights, as provided for in the original rules, to change the ownership of the joint venture and impose penalties and demand compensation in case official rules, What Type Of Volcano Is Taftan? regulations and terms and conditions of the agreement were violated. BMR 1970,” says a retired official of the Balochistan law department, requesting anonymity. When, under court orders, the law firm’s website was searched, TCC was found to be one of its clients. Mt. Taftan.
Soofi, the counsel for the Balochistan government, revealed the new rules were prepared by the same law firm, RIAALAW, that had also represented BHP’s successor TCC at the Balochistan High Court during the hearing of a 2006 writ petition. During the hearing of constitutional petitions at the Supreme Court regarding the Reko Diq project, senior lawyer Raza Kazim argued in January 2011 that the new rules were framed “under the influence” of BHP/TCC. Subsequently, on January 20, 1994, ten days before the agreement became effective, the provincial government relaxed 13 provisions of the rules including those governing the extent of the area available for prospecting licences, exclusive rights over prospecting and exploration in the areas covered by the licences, the right to prospect and explore minerals other than those mentioned in the licences, the government’s right to acquire, merge and/or take over the project, and enforce royalty, penalties and compensation. But someone, somewhere, knew the agreement suffered from multiple lacunae.
If indeed true, this would be a serious shift in the dynamics of the bilateral relationship itself, since so far, Pakistan has designed and implemented policies like an entity that knew it had an upper hand. Subsequently, TCC registered its Pakistani subsidiary, Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (TCCP), which practically took over all the prospecting and exploration activities and other work being done under the joint venture. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) took up the project proposal for discussion in 2010 on the request of Balochistan government and approved it as a fast-track scheme. On January 23, 2009, the steering committee rejected MCC’s proposal. It had its exploration licences renewed till 2009, even when it had not submitted the mandatory reports for the feasibility of mining operations in the area; it also acquired a newly-introduced mineral deposit retention licence which entitled it to exercise exclusive rights over any mineral or group of minerals it discovered until the government made a final decision on accepting or rejecting its application for a mining licence; the company could amend, increase or decrease the area it had been allotted under its exploration licences; and, most importantly, it received the right to remove from the exploration area any mineral or group of minerals and sell or dispose off those minerals or any other materials excavated during exploration operations. Mount Taftan Iran.
Sources in Quetta say the company’s decision to drop the other licences was based on the information collected through the scanning of the area over a period of more than 14 years. The new rules gave TCC unparalleled jurisdiction over the area it was prospecting and exploring. After the new mining rules came into force in 2002 and TCC took over from BHP, it relinquished all its prospecting licences except one: EL-5, covering a huge area of 13,000 square kilometres, Mount Taftan, Southeastern Iran granted under a specially-devised BMR 2000 provision. By that time, the company – or the companies as the case may be – had sought and received multiple extensions in prospecting licences in violation of a Chejva provision which said that each licence would be valid for an initial period of two years and would be extended just once for another three years, provided that work on a feasibility study had started in the area covered by it.
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