ISLAMABAD The Federation on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that no agreement for mining had been signed yet, as the grant of mining rights, apart from oil and gas and radioactive substance, was under the 1973 Constitution a provincial matter. Deputy Attorney General Chaudhry Mazhar on behalf of the Federal Government, while Advocate General Balochistan Mengal filed para-wise comments on behalf of the Government of Balochistan. Advocate Supreme Court Tariq Asad has filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, saying that awarding contract of gold mines to foreign companies was tantamount to treason. Barrister Zafarullah, Advocate Supreme Court, on Wednesday also filed identical petition and urged the court to issue stay order against the agreement, as Wednesday (November 24, 2010) was the last day to enter into the agreement with the foreign company - Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (TCCP) - for the exploration of copper and gold at Reko Diq. However, the Deputy Attorney said, No agreement has been signed yet. The Federation in its written reply submitted that no sale and purchase transaction of the mineral resources took place on behalf of the Government of Pakistan (GoP) or Government of Balochistan (GoB), saying according to the Balochistan Mineral Rules 2002 (BMC Rules 2002), only the GoB is entitled to royalty and certain other provincial levies, where the GoP is entitled to receive the federal taxes, Workers Welfare Fund contribution, excise duty and custom duty. The Balochistan government in Reko Diq project was also entitled to receive 25 per cent share from the profits of the mining of the copper and gold without making any exploration investment. The Federal Government denied that it had pressurised the provincial government in Reko Diq project for any wrongful action against the interests of the people of Balochistan. The Federal Government entered into the affairs of Reko Diq when a delegation of TCCP called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan in July 2007 and presented Draft Mineral Agreement (DMA) to be signed among GoP, GoB and TCCP. The then PM constituted a steering committee comprising representatives of GoP and GoB to coordinate inputs and finalise recommendations for approval of DMA, expeditious processing and finalisation of the DMA with the company and appointment of quality advisor/consultants for evaluation and negotiation of DMA to safeguard the interests of both the federal and provincial governments. The Steering Committee held its meetings in February 2008 and January 2009 and jointly prepared counter-proposals on fiscal, regulatory, corporate sector, management, amendment in 2002 BMC Rules, mineral title, consents and incentives, infrastructure, termination, dispute resolution mechanism, federal taxes and levies and rate of royalties. The Federation said that the petition was based exclusively on the article, appeared in an English daily, without any supporting evidence and that the petitioner prima facie lacked knowledge of the rules and policy on the subject and had portrayed a false picture, and that the petitioner had not made TCCP a respondent, when it was evident that TCCP was a necessary party. The mineral exploration is a high-risk business requiring massive capital investment and a long gestation period. The foreign investors have proved the resource potential of copper and gold at Reko Diq, which in itself is a significant achievement, after years of work and with an investment of over US $500 million as claimed by TCCP. The investment made by TCCP will generate substantial revenues for GoP and GoB, besides providing mass scale employment of about 6,500 skilled and unskilled workers, transfer of technology promotion of downstream industries, and establishment of new township in the region and will place the country on the world mineral map. The statement mentioned that all the proceedings regarding the Reko Diq copper-gold project both at federal and provincial levels were fairly transparent and no violation of rules/policy had been committed at any stage. During the proceeding, Fakhar-ud-Din, counsel for TCCP, requested the court to club all the cases and hear them together and decide the matter soon. He said that the Balochistan High Court in 2007 dismissed the petitions of Maulana Abdul Haq Baloch, ex-MNA, and two others. Maulana had filed the petition against BHC which had been pending for the last three years. The learned counsel also requested the court to stop English daily from publishing articles and stories on Reko Diq as the matter is sub judice. But the Chief Justice said that they could not pass any order in this regard. Barrister Zafarullah in his petition prayed that the court should order that no deal should be signed until the report of the independent commission was available and Pakistan was assured of its due share. The court has issued fresh notice to the respondents and adjourned the case till December 15, 2010. APP adds: The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to grant stay order on awarding of contract for exploration of Reko Diq mines in Balochistan and put off hearing till December 15. The bench observed since both high government officials had been giving statements over the issue, so it would be premature to grant stay. Asad requested the court for the whole record of the deal/agreement, if any, with respect to the sale of gold and copper mines to the TCC or any other foreign companies, as well as lease, from the respondents. Besides, a direction was sought for respondents to refrain from issuing the licence of mining in an arbitrary and unlawful manner and without the consultation of the parliament and the Balochistan government. He further requested that respondents be asked to explain as to why the mining process could not have ever been carried out by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and mining department. The petitioner questioned the selling of gold mines worth $260 billion (rather due to the rise of the prices of gold and copper, the total yield could be even $500 billion or may be a trillion dollars) to the foreign companies at a very low price.