Pakistan’s top businessmen makes big offer to government over the billion dollars Reko Diq Gold Reserves

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ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's top businessmen have offered to take over a disputed copper and gold deposit that was once explored by Barrick Gold Corp and Antofagasta Plc.

Citing sources, *Bloomberg *reported that officials at the provincial Balochistan government are said to have met with a consortium of four business groups including tycoons Arif Habib and Muhammad Ali Tabba who are willing to invest about $1 billion of their own cash in the project, the people said.

The report stated that the consortium is willing to go through a bidding process to take over the project.

Back in July a World Bank arbitration court ordered the Pakistani government to pay damages of $5.8 billion to Tethyan Copper, a joint venture between Chile's Antofagasta Plc and Canada's Barrick Gold after Pakistan refused to grant them the mining lease needed to keep operating.

Tethyan Copper discovered vast mineral wealth more than a decade ago in Reko Diq, at the foot of an extinct volcano near Pakistan's frontier with Iran and Afghanistan. The deposit was set to rank among the world's biggest untapped copper and gold mines.

The business groups that showed interest in the mining project are Yunus Brothers Group that owns Lucky Cement Ltd, Arif Habib Group, Fatima Group and the owners of Liberty Power Tech Ltd, the people said.

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