Barrick initiates ICSID conciliation proceedings over Porgera

10th July 2020 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Deputy Editor Online

Barrick initiates ICSID conciliation proceedings over Porgera

Canadian gold major Barrick has initiated proceedings before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) over Papua New Guinea’s decision not to extend a special mining lease (SML) for the Porgera joint venture (JV) mine.

The company argues that the government’s decision to reject the application for the lease extension was in breach of its right to renewal, noting that the rejection was publicly announced without notifying Barrick (Niugini) (BNL) or following appropriate processes.

“This conciliation proceeding is not intended to, nor can it, displace the judicial review proceedings that are properly pending before the National Court of Justice in PNG,” BNL said in a statement on Friday.

BNL stated that it would continue to prosecute the judicial review action pending before the Papua New Guinea National Court of Justice, in which it was seeking an order quashing the decision not to extend the Porgera SML.

BNL operates the mine as a JV between Barrick and China’s Zijin Mining.

Further, Barrick (PD) Australia, an investor in Porgera, has also given notice to Papua New Guinea that a dispute had arisen under the bilateral investment treaty between Papua New Guinea and Australia.

The gold major said in a statement that Barrick PD, as an investor, would seek to recover damages it had suffered and damages  it might suffer in the future by virtue of the country's "wrongful refusal" to grant an extension of the SML.

Relations between Barrick and the government have deteriorated since the rejection of the special lease application in April, with Papua New Guinea recently also accusing the mining company of illegally exporting gold and silver to Australia. Barrick on June 24 announced to 2 650 workers at Porgera that they would be retrenched before the end of July.