BARRICK GOLD CEO BRISTOW BACK IN PNG

by PNG Business News - October 12, 2021

Photo credit: Porgera JV

Barrick Gold CEO and President Mark Bristow will be in Papua New Guinea from 12th to 15th of October along with senior Barrick Gold executives, as a part of their quarterly review visits to Barrick operated mine sites throughout the world.

Dr Bristow is expected to meet with Prime Minister James Marape and senior PNG Government officials during his visit.

While the Porgera Mine is presently under care and maintenance, negotiations for the recommencement of mining at Porgera continue, in line with the terms of the Framework Agreement signed between Barrick and the State in April of this year.

Dr Bristow has stated that he hopes that his visit will assist in progressing negotiations past certain critical milestones and that all key agreements required prior to the re-commencement of mining will be signed soon.

He further noted that Barrick remains entirely committed to restarting the Porgera Mine under the terms of the Framework Agreement.

He reiterated his view that all parties need to be conscious of the passage of time and should work together finalize negotiations at as soon as possible to ensure an expedient mine restart. This would ensure that the Porgera Mine can start contributing to Papua New Guinea’s economic recovery impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic.

“While the current pace of the negotiations is not as rapid as we might have hoped, certain commercial arrangements, as defined under the Framework Agreement, need to be finalized to give our shareholders confidence in the reinvestment,” Dr Bristow said.

“I sincerely hope we can get these agreements signed off by the State as soon as possible, particularly given the ongoing cost of keeping the mine under care and maintenance. “We all need to put in our best efforts towards concluding the remaining agreements if we want to have any chance of restarting the mine this year or early next year,” he said.

Barrick Niugini Limited management have previously noted that should a final agreement be reached between BNL and the Government of Papua New Guinea regarding the recommencement of operations at Porgera, any information regarding recruiting processes to be undertaken by BNL will be published on official BNL websites, social-media sites and via company statements.

 

Article courtesy of Porgera JV



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Last month, five senior national workers from the halted Porgera Mine operations received resident mine manager certificates. All five are part of the Porgera mine's Care and Maintenance (C&M) Leadership team  Ezekiel Nori, Superintendent (Probationary) Open Pit Mining, Teddy Ulopo, Senior Mine Engineer, Deryck Akis, Alternate Manager Sorting, Ian Kaisom, Superintendent Fixed Plant Management, and Underground Mine Engineer Adam Joseph obtained certificates from the mine via the Mineral Resources Authority. Acting executive managing director David Lilley said, “It is really important and critical for us at this stage of where we’re at. It means for us now, we are really well covered for having qualified and certified people on this site at all times to meet the requirements of the MRA. Basically, when we talk about these roles, it’s about keeping the site but more importantly the people safe and protecting the assets. It is not a purely technical exercise. It’s really focused on making sure that all the right safety processes are involved so no harm comes to anybody and we protect the ore body and assets.” The method of acquiring numerous mine manager certifications started in March 2020, shortly after the Porgera Mine was shut down. With the support of the site safety department and the backing of General Manager Operations, Tim Cribb, who is also a registered mine manager ticket holder, and Jackie Kolgkia, Superintendent Project with Mine Technical Site Projects, who earned her registered mine manager certificate in 2017, initiated the process for the company. Only a registered mine manager can nominate and endorse candidates for the respective MRA examinations for Certificates of Competency. “Obviously after the mine suspension and COVID-19 restrictions, it became apparent there was a need for sufficient coverage on-site as this is a part of the operational requirement to have a certified manager’s ticket holder on-site at any time, as required by the Mining Act,” Kolgkia said. “I, therefore, nominated and with the backing of the PJV management, supported the candidates through the process toward attaining their certificates. Having a ticket is one thing but sitting in that role, making those critical safety decisions is the key part.” On behalf of the certificate recipients, Deryck thanked Kolgkia and the PJV management for understanding and encouraging their need to take the exams as a business necessity. Ezekiel has also expressed his appreciation to the company for ensuring that the mine managers' credential was obtained.

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PNG Business News - April 12, 2021

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Prime Minister James Marape said in a statement that the government is willing to sign an agreement with Barrick Gold to reopen the Porgera Gold Mine in Enga, which has been closed for a year. The mine was abandoned after the State declined to extend Barrick Niugini Limited's mining contract (BNL). PM Marape said there was a breakthrough after dealing with BNL, with Papua New Guinea seeing a “far better deal” than in the first 31 years of service, from 1989 to 2020. “I’m announcing to our country that within the principles of my Government, which includes getting more from our natural resources, we are in a better position now to sign an agreement with Barrick for what will be a new Porgera,” the Prime Minister said. He added, “I can assure our country that this is a far superior and better deal, meaning our landowners and Enga Provincial Government will get more, and the balance of equity through Kumul Minerals will mean we hold a majority in equity. Other benefits include securing an increased and upfront tax with no concession as is the case with other resource projects, an increase in royalties as well as a better handle on environment and resettlement issues at Porgera and a Barrick exit option.” He noted, “Kumul Minerals Holdings, since being granted the Special Mining Lease (SML) over Porgera, could have started but many court cases Barrick had filed caused delays to reopen Porgera, hence we entered into these negotiations. We are almost at the point of signing an agreement with Barrick. If the last round of negotiation is good, then I intend to meet Enga Provincial Government and all SML and LMP plus impact area landowners at the earliest to discuss the benefits sharing.” "To those who questioned Government and Kumul Minerals Holdings on why this turn in Porgera, I inform all that we have every capacity to operate Porgera like we are doing in Ok Tedi right now,” he added. "But with Barrack’s court cases, we had to go down this path. Barrick has agreed with us on an exit option in the new Porgera agreement 10 years from now."


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PNG Business News - October 26, 2021

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PNG Business News - October 26, 2021

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PNG Business News - October 26, 2021

Digicel Pacific to be Acquired by Telstra

Telstra has announced that it will buy Digicel Pacific for $US1.6 billion, plus up to an additional US$250 million based on business performance over the next three years, subject to government and regulatory approvals. In its six South Pacific markets – Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu – Telstra, Australia's leading telecommunications and technology company, will continue to invest in and operate the business under the Digicel brand name. Telstra International CEO Oliver Camplin-Warner said the agreement will allow Telstra to expand on Digicel Pacific's regional leadership and increase mobile connectivity in Papua New Guinea. “Denis O’Brien and the Digicel team have built a phenomenal business that’s centred on providing exceptional customer service, the best coverage and leading digital experiences. Telstra will add to these strengths and the team’s local knowledge with our more than one hundred years’ experience connecting the vast expanses of Australia to continue delivering great experiences for Digicel’s customers across the Pacific.”   “We have 19.5 million retail mobile customers in Australia and our 4G network is the largest and most reliable in country. It covers some of the remotest parts of Australia – from the coast, to the outback and the Torres Strait Islands, just off the coast of Papua New Guinea. And we’re in the process of building Australia’s largest 5G network that now stretches to more than 240 towns and 75 per cent of the population,” Camplin-Warner said.     There will be no employment losses in the region as a result of the transaction, and the present Digicel Pacific team will continue to manage the company on a day-to-day basis. Denis O'Brien, the current owner of Digicel, will continue on the Board of Directors. “We will invest our know-how and capital to further expand coverage and over time bring the benefits of 5G to Papua New Guinea. But we’ll retain the same Digicel brand the people of PNG know and love today with the same team and services they have come to rely on,” Mr Camplin-Warner said.    The purchase, according to Camplin-Warner, is in line with Telstra International's expansion plan, which now comprises operations in 20 countries outside of Australia and thousands of clients, including businesses, governments, and some of the world's largest technology firms. “Beyond Australia Telstra also has the most extensive subsea telecommunications cable network in the Asia Pacific. And we’re one of the biggest providers of voice and data services connecting the South Pacific to the rest of the world through our Southern Cross cable.”     “Network traffic is growing faster than at any other period of time and digital technology is changing our world. We are at the centre of this, and so is Digicel Pacific. We are committed to delivering the best technology on the best network for PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said.      The people and businesses of PNG will benefit from Telstra's experience rolling out a world-class 5G network and connecting diverse geographies, according to Colin Stone, CEO of Digicel Papua New Guinea. “Telstra’s network innovation has played a critical part in Australia being ranked first in the global Mobile Connectivity Index which assesses networks based on performance, affordability and availability. We look forward to working with Oliver and the Telstra team,” Mr Stone said.  The two firms' ideals, according to Camplin-Warner, were likewise matched.   “Digicel Pacific and Telstra are both committed to building a connected future so everyone can thrive and this includes supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities.”   “Digicel Pacific has taken community development to the next level through the Digicel Foundation’s investment in health, education and community-based programs. We look forward to continuing this work, just as we do today with the Telstra Foundation and its commitment to using technology to support young people and help to reduce the digital divide.”    “We will also bring a commitment to addressing climate change to help drive better environmental outcomes for the people of PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said.   Despite the fact that the transaction is funded by the Australian government, Telstra will remain the only owner and operator of the company.   Reference: Loop (October 25, 2021). “Australia’s biggest telecommunications company to acquire Digicel Pacific”.

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