Tethyan Copper Company in November 2011 filed for international arbitration to protect its legal rights at the Reko Diq copper-gold project in northwest Balochistan province, Pakistan. The filing followed summary refusal by the Government of Balochistan in mid-November of the company’s Mining Lease Application (MLA). Tethyan Copper originally submitted the MLA to the Government of Balochistan in February 2011, following submission of the project feasibility study in August 2010.
Tethyan Copper is a joint venture of Antofagasta plc and Barrick. Antofagasta acquired Tethyan Copper and formed the joint venture with Barrick in April 2006. Tethyan Copper has invested more than $220 million in the project since that time.
The deposit at Reko Diq is a large, low-grade copper porphyry, with total mineral resources of 5.9 billion mt at average grades of 0.41% copper and 0.22 g/mt gold. From this, the economically mineable portion of the deposit has been calculated at 2.2 billion mt, averaging 0.53% copper and 0.30 g/mt gold. Annual production has been estimated at 200,000 mt of copper and 250,000 oz of gold contained in 600,000 mt of concentrate over a 56-year project life.
Mining would be from an open-pit at a rate of 110,000 mt/d of ore (293,000 mt/d combined ore and waste). Capital investment to develop the project is estimated at $3.3 billion, including infrastructure such as power, water and concentrate pipelines, roads and port development.