The process of reopening the Porgera gold mine under the terms of the binding framework agreement between the government and operator Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL) took a step forward with a discussion between Barrick president and CEO Mark Bristow, Prime Minister James Marape and the various Porgera landowner groups and others in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Friday.
The framework agreement provides that Porgera will be owned by a new joint venture held 51% by PNG stakeholders and 49% by BNL, with BNL continuing as the operator.
The framework agreement also calls on the Porgera landowners and the Enga province to have a dialogue to determine how the 10% ‘protected equity’ which forms part of PNG’s 51% interest will be allocated.
Speaking at the event, which was attended by Marape, Enga governor Peter Ipatas and local MP Tomait Kapili, Bristow said the agreement made each of the parties — the landowners, the national government, the province and BNL — a committed stakeholder responsible for the long-term success of the mine.
“In aligning our interests, it recognises the importance of the landowners and the communities, and prioritises the benefits they will receive, not only from the mine but from a new Porgera Development Fund that will invest tens of millions of Kina in promising local projects.
He said BNL was committed to giving preference to competitive local contractors and suppliers and to employing Porgerans first. With BNL as operator, Porgera would also redouble its efforts to be a responsible steward of the environment..
“The road to reopening is a long one, and between the state, local communities and BNL, the implementation details of the agreement still need to be finalised. However, if all parties work together, uninterrupted, in the spirit of partnership envisaged by the agreement, our hope is that the mine will be able to restart later this year. It is no small task. But we are committed to playing our part, so that the new Porgera can realise its extraordinary potential and deliver decades of value to the people of the Porgera Valley, Enga, Papua New Guinea and the shareholders of BNL," said Bristow.
Porgera was placed on care and maintenance more than a year ago, when the government declined to renew its special mining lease.
Barrick previously said that BNL would foot the bill to finance the restart of the mine. Full mine recommencement work would get under way once definitive agreements had been signed.