ISLAMABAD (Reuters) The Balochistan government has objected to a mining lease being sought by a joint venture between Antofagasta and Barrick Gold , further delaying a major planned copper and gold project in the countrys southwest. London-listed Antofagasta and Canadian group Barrick Gold are partners in the Tethyan Cooper Co (TCC) joint venture which has a 75 per cent interest in the Reko Diq project and submitted an application for a licence in February. Samia Ali Shah, a spokeswoman for TCC, which has been meeting officials in recent months in the hope a decision would be reached in September, said Balochistan had raised observations to its application for a mining licence. We have been asked to reply to the observations raised by the government of Balochistan within 30 days, she said. A Balochistan official who asked not to be named confirmed Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani had raised objections to the granting of a licence. The TCC was served the notice of objections yesterday (Wednesday), he said. Antofagasta and Barrick spent $200 million in 2006 buying the exploration licence from rival BHP. Reko Diq - which will be only the second significant project in the mineral-rich region, along with smaller, Chinese-operated Saindak - holds an estimated 5.9 billion tonnes of mineral resources, with an average copper grade of 0.41 percent and an average gold grade of 0.22 grams per tonne. The $3.3 billion project has faced difficulties since last year when Balochistan said it would cancel the project amid growing anger over outsiders exploiting natural resources in countrys biggest and poorest province. Balochistan was initially barred by the Supreme Court from giving approval until a separate investigation over the awarding of the concession to TCC was over. In May, the court said the provincial government could decide on the lease.