BHP was not reg­is­tered in Pak­istan: SC told

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

IS­LAM­ABAD

Ad­vo­cate Gen­eral Balochis­tan Aman­ul­lah Kin­rani on Wed­nes­day ap­prised the Supreme Court that the BHP, the world's lead­ing cop­per min­ing com­pany, which had been given a min­ing lease for dis­cov­ery of gold and cop­per re­serves in Reko Diq dur­ing 1990s was not reg­is­tered un­der Pak­istani laws.

He was ap­pear­ing be­fore a three-mem­ber bench com­pris­ing Chief Jus­tice Iftikhar Muham­mad Chaudhry, Jus­tice Gulzar Ahmed and Jus­tice Sh. Az­mat Saeed, that re­sumed hear­ing of a pe­ti­tion moved by late Mualana Ab­dul Haq. In re­sponse to bench's re­marks, Kin­rani main­tained that the BHP had not been in­cor­po­rated in Pak­istan as for­eign min­er­als min­ing com­pany.

The Chief Jus­tice ob­served that the Gov­ern­ment of Balochis­tan should have known the fact as all for­eign com­pa­nies were re­quired ap­proval from the Board of In­vest­ment.

He told Khalid An­war, coun­sel for Tethyan Cop­per Com­pany (TCCP), that noth­ing like min­ing agree­ment ex­isted prior to 1996 with the BHP, but a re­quest for re­lax­ation of rules was sub­mit­ted. He said the re­lax­ation was sought when there was no agree­ment.

"Show us any ex­plo­ration agree­ment from any part of Pak­istan with sim­i­lar prece­dent. We will ex­am­ine the in­stant mat­ter on touchstone of the Pak­istani laws."

Khalid An­war said when Chagi Hills Ex­plo­ration Joint Ven­ture Agree­ment (CHEJVA) was reached, there was no so re­quire­ment. The CJ re­marked "Do not give such a free hand, we are a sov­er­eign coun­try."

Khalid An­war con­tended that the BHP was not en­ti­tled for such an agree­ment as it did not make any dis­cov­ery in the area. He said the TCCP had made a dis­cov­ery in 2006 so why it was blamed for the acts of BHP.

Read­ing out Com­pa­nies Act, he said un­der its pro­vi­sions, Pak­istani ex­plo­ration com­pa­nies did not re­quire reg­is­tra­tion but it was a re­quire­ment for the for­eign com­pa­nies while his client TCCP was a sub­sidiary of the TCCA and a Pak­istani com­pany.

The coun­sel fur­ther ap­prised the bench that the ne­go­ti­a­tions for reach­ing an agree­ment for Reko Diq min­ing ven­ture started way back in 1993 and af­ter three years of elab­o­rate dis­cus­sions in­volv­ing all the stake­hold­ers, a con­sen­sus draft was agreed upon which had all the trans­parency.

He said the BHP made a gen­er­ous of­fer of 25 per cent to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment which was un­prece­dented in the ex­plo­ration his­tory at that time.

Re­fut­ing claims about cor­rup­tion or any un­der­hand deals, he said re­lax­ation of rules did not amount to amend­ing of Balochis­tan Min­eral Rules of 1997.

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