Mining. Papua New Guinea press review
Papua New Guinea (PNG) decided not to renew a 20-year mining contract at the Porgera Gold Mine, located in Enga Province (Northwestern part of Papua New Guinea). By the decision of the National Executive Council (NEC), Barrick Niugini Limited was denied the renewal of a Special Mining License (SML).
Prime Minister James Marape announced that the National Executive Council’s decision to refuse the request from Barrick Niugini Limited was based on recommendations from the Mining Advisory Committee (MAC).
The PNG government has carefully considered the issue and decided it was «in the best interests of the State, especially in lieu of the environmental damages claims and resettlement issues», that the lease not be renewed. The NEC agreed to enter into a transitional agreement with the multi-national Barrick, to develop an exit plan, during which local landowners and the Enga Provincial Government would be consulted widely. James Marape said, despite the threat of COVID-19, work in these sectors of the economy must «proceed full steam ahead».
«I request Barrick Niugini Limited, who has been operating the mine since 2006 to prepare for negotiations with our State Negotiation Team for operations in the transition period until full exit at a time convenient to all parties,» said Hon. James Marape.
Barrick Niugini Limited challenged the decision, saying it was «tantamount to nationalisation without due process» and decided to seek judicial review of the decision of NEC and the Head of State to refuse its request to extend the validity of the special mining licence.
Prime Minister James Marape has also ordered the deployment of 100 PNG Defence Force soldiers at Porgera, Enga Provinvce, to secure the Porgera gold mine to maintain security over the mine due to increasing incursions by illegal miners. They will be in place during the transitional period.
The Porgera landowners expressed concern about the Government’s decision not to extend the lease of the mine: «We want to remind the State that we are the owners of the land on which the Porgera Mine is located. “Nothing will take place here without our express agreement and consent,» – said Porgera Landowner Association chairman Maso Mangape.
Prime Minister Hon. James Marape assured all landowners and the Enga provincial government that their views on environmental destruction and non-resettlement of landowners were given due consideration. «They will sit on the table as greater beneficiaries of the mine,» – said Mr. Marape.
In turn, Opposition Leader Belden Namah says the Government is creating uncertainty and scaring both foreign investors and local businesses with its decision to nationalise the Porgera gold mine.
Mr. Namah urged Prime Minister James Marape to immediately name the next operator to replace Barrick Niugini Ltd at the mine in Enga, and also said that the Government’s refusal to extend Barrick’s application for a 20-year lease on its special mining lease was «nationalisation of the worst sort that will harm PNG in the long term.»