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Barrick says big miners show interest in Pakistan copper project

20th September 2023

By: Bloomberg

  

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Barrick Gold’s top executive says it’s not just Saudi Arabia interested in his company’s massive copper project in Pakistan — some major mining companies are, too.

The Canadian miner’s $7-billion Reko Diq project in Balochistan — a region bordering Afghanistan and Iran — boasts one of the world’s largest copper deposits and could become a major source of the wiring metal. Barrick is the only mining company that hasn’t shied away from the project’s risky geography, after Chilean miner Antofagasta Plc sold its stake in the project last year.

Now, Barrick Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said he’s seeing newfound “interest” from multinational mining firms that have been hesitant to venture into tricky regions of the world.

“They have an interest,” Bristow said in a Tuesday interview at the Denver Gold Forum. “Of course, they’re a lot more conservative than I am, but as we open up these areas, whatever way you look at copper, there’s not enough of it.”

Bristow declined to elaborate on what he meant by interest.

Large metals producers are scouring the world for copper assets as demand for battery metals accelerates to underpin the global transition to cleaner energy. BHP Group, Rio Tinto Group and Glencore are actively looking to increase their copper exposure while gold majors like Barrick and Newmont Corp. have made moves to boost output of the industrial metal.

Reko Diq has attracted interest from Saudi Arabia, whose presence could serve to stabilize the project in a contentious part of the world. Bloomberg previously reported that the Saudis held talks about investing in the development.

“We would not have have a problem if Saudi Arabia and Pakistan came to an agreement” on a stake, Bristow said. “The Saudis are very interested in participating.”

Edited by Bloomberg

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