Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in discussions to secure a share in a substantial $7 billion copper mine being developed by the Canadian firm Barrick Gold in Pakistan’s western region. This endeavor aligns with the broader economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. As part of this collaboration, Pakistan’s Special Investment Facilitation Board has given its initial approval for multiple projects, presenting investment opportunities to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain. The total value of these ventures surpasses $28 billion.
Among the projects on offer is an oil refinery, a significant proposition that may attract Saudi energy giant Aramco. These developments arise as Saudi Arabia aims to diversify its revenue sources and strengthen its economy. Pakistan holds a pivotal position as a strategic market for Saudi Arabia, which exports oil and gas to the nation while actively investing in essential infrastructure projects, including road and rail construction.
Furthermore, Barrick Gold’s CEO, Mark Bristow, recently indicated the company’s willingness to collaborate with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, particularly in the Reko Diq gold and copper project in Pakistan. Although Barrick Gold intends to maintain its current stake in the project, it expressed openness to the possibility of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) acquiring the Pakistani government’s share. Notably, the ownership structure of the Reko Diq mine is divided, with Barrick Gold holding 50% while the Pakistani government and the Balochistan province jointly own the remaining 50%. The mine is recognized as one of the most significant untapped copper-gold reserves, according to Barrick.
Saudi Arabia’s investments in Pakistan extend beyond mining, with previous commitments such as the ambitious $14 billion petroleum refinery announced in 2022. This refinery, scheduled to begin production in 2025, is expected to address Pakistan’s increasing demand for oil, producing approximately 250,000 barrels per day. These investments underscore the deepening economic ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, signifying a proactive approach by Saudi Arabia to enhance its foothold in the region and bolster its economic strength.