QUETTA: One of the sycophant officials has come out with a proposal to invite Chinese investment in exploiting mineral wealth of Balochistan. His statement had drawn strong reaction from the people and mainly the political activists and students of economics as they are well aware about the performance of the Chinese company in exploiting the Copper and Gold reserves at Saindak and the Zinc in Dodar in Lasbela District.
The performance of the Chinese company had been under close watch by the independent economists and the common people of Balochistan for the past 15 years since the Chinese company operated the gold and copper mine without any check and balance.
There was a public announcement from the Chinese company that it will establish a refinery for separation of gold from copper at the Saindak mineral complex. At a news conference, the top executive of the company announced a Chinese loan of 20 million dollar for establishing the Refinery so that Gold and Copper should be separated on the spot. It was an attempt to ensure transparency in operating the gold and copper mine. It was the biggest at that time.
But the Chinese failed to honour their public commitment and they failed to establish the promised refinery in Balochistan. Instead, the Chinese company preferred to export the blister copper in bulk to China where the gold is being separated from copper and other minerals.
Now more than 15 long years, the Chinese are exploiting the copper and gold mines with full speed and taking the blister copper to China. Balochistan and its nationals is the net loser as a result of the massive Chinese exploitation.
The second point is that Chinese company had brought bulk of work force for operating the mines denying job opportunities to the local people—mainly from the mineral rich Chagai district.
It was unprecedented that such a large number of workforce, including ordinary labour, was brought from China at the cost of local labour force.
The company also failed to fulfill its promise for on-job training to the local people so that they should take over the entire production process in due course of time.
It is not out of context to mention that the Saindak Metals under the Resource Development Corporation of Pakistan successfully completed the trial production and its products attracted suitable prices when the blister copper was sold in the international market.
On the contrary, the PML-N Government in late 1990s refused to guarantee loans from a consortium of Pakistani banks and the Prime Minister rushed a visit to Saindak, accompanied by Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, then the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, and there the Prime Minister of Pakistan ordered closure of the Saindak Copper and Gold project without assigning any reason.
The Saindak was closed down amid wild allegation of luxury life by some top officials in this vast desert township of Amal Ap in Chagai District where drinking water was not available to the Pakistani workforce.
Later on, PML Government was toppled down in a military coup. General Pervez Musharraf ordered an investigation to all the past allegations and all were found incorrect and concocted by the vested interests opposed to development of Balochistan.
Instead of handing over the Saindak Metal Mining complex to the Resource Development Corporation of Pakistan for operation, General Pervez Musharraf gifted the Saindak Metal Mining complex to the Chinese to the disadvantage of the entire people of Pakistan. Chinese proved to be brutal exploitation.
Balochistan and its poor people had been the net loser in all respect. Balochistan got merely 2.5 per cent as royalty on Metal production. It was Chinese who provided the details of the metal production of gold and copper. The Federal Government had no means to verify the production.
The Central Government had contributed its bits by blocking the payment of royalty to the Government of Balochistan for long over a tax dispute with Saindak Metals, a Government controlled corporation. This made the time of Balochistan Government relations with the Saindak Metals strained for non-payment of royalty for long.
The Chinese were so tough in dealing with Pakistan that they deducted the price of truckloads of blister copper hijacked by the criminals on way from Saindak to Karachi. They punished the state of Pakistan by deducting the price of stolen blister copper.
The Chinese company did not fulfill its corporate responsibility. There is hardly any sign or symbol of Chinese investment to improve the lot of local residing in the vicinity of the copper and gold mines. However, some scholarships for the students were announced in local schools. Generally, the Chinese company had ignored the needs and requirements of the local community for the past 15 long years.
Now Saindak Metal mining complex is being handed over to the Balochistan Government following the 18th Amendment and the Provincial Government is not giving serious thought to this handing over presumably they had made up their mind to allow the Chinese Company to further exploit the riches of gold, copper and other precious metals.
We had suggested to the Chief Minister to establish a pool of talented and honest officers making preparations for operating all the future economic projects, including Saindak and Reko Dik. Some experts can be hired from the international market and they can take charge of operating the Metal mining complex relieving the Chinese forever. Billions of income should be retained by the Government of Balochistan and not others. The Government should have some employees on all the vital economic projects in all sectors.