Canadian Press reports that Tethyan Copper, a partnership between Canada-based Barrick Gold (TSE:ABX) and Chile-based Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) has filed for international arbitration after the Balochistan government turned down its application without meeting with the companies.

"We have to initiate arbitral proceedings in order to protect our legal rights, but we remain open to meeting with the government of Balochistan and its regulatory body to work towards an amicable, negotiated resolution to the dispute," Tethyan Copper said in a statement.

The company says on its website it has invested over US$200 million in the Reko Diq copper-gold project since 2006. The $US3.3 billion mine is estimated to produce 200,000 tons of copper annually and 250,000 ounces of gold for a life of 56 years.

CP notes that Balochistan is one of the poorest provinces in Pakistan and is rife with tribal fighting and insurgents.