Saudi Arabia is preparing to invest nearly $1 billion in the Reko Diq copper-gold mining project in Pakistan, which is majority-owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp., Bloomberg reported.

A preliminary agreement on transaction terms could be disclosed within the coming weeks, with Public Investment Fund (PIF)-backed Manara Minerals Investment Co. taking up a potential minority stake in the project, the news agency reported, citing people aware of the matter.

The investment from the Saudi company may increase over the period, the report added.

The Reko Diq project in Balochistan, a region bordering Afghanistan and Iran, is slated to commence production in 2028.

Barrick currently holds 50% of the project, with Pakistan’s federal government and the Balochistan regional government each owning a 25% stake.

Last November, Barrick CEO Mark Bristow told Bloomberg that Saudi Arabia was  in talks with Pakistan to buy part of the government’s stake in Reko Diq.

This week, Reuters reported Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah as saying that Riyadh will be “moving ahead significantly” to invest in projects in Pakistan after Islamabad announced that the Kingdom had pledged to expedite $5 billion in investments.

“This gave us some very, very significant confidence that we will be able to move forward on those projects which we decide to identify as a worthy of investment,” the minister said.

Earlier this month, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during this two-day visit to the Kingdom.        

(Editing by Brinda Darasha;