Barrick and Antofagasta won’t be digging Pakistan’s $3 billion Reko Diq

The Globe & Mail reports local authorities in the Pakistani province of Balochistan refused to meet Tethyan Copper, a joint venture between Chile’s Antofagasta and Barrick Gold, for talks before rejecting a bid for one of the world's richest deposits of gold and copper at a remote site in the dry hills near the Afghan-Pakistan border, known as Reko Diq.

Tethyan Copper said a “summary decision” by the restive province to reject a mining lease application for its Reko Diq project breached local rules and Pakistani law and has now filed a “notice of dispute.”

The Globe & Mail reports the exploration license for Reko Diq expired in February, 2011, and the consortium had been waiting anxiously for a mining license since submitting a feasibility study – reportedly prepared by SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., of Montreal, at a cost of $220 million.

Reuters reported back in March, the $3 billion Reko Diq project was estimated to yield 22 billion lb (10 billion kg) of copper and 13 million oz (368 million grams) of gold over a 50-60 year period.

Separatist rebels in Balochistan have been fighting a low-level insurgency for decades for control of the province’s resources, which they say are unfairly exploited by richer and more powerful provinces. reported in July hundreds of tribesmen blocked transportation of coal from Chamalang in in the restive province. The blockade followed weeks of deadly skirmishes for control of the coal fields that hold recoverable reserves more than 500 million tonnes. Read more on the high-quality Chamalang coal mines which were first discoverd in 1885.