MRA Seeks Views Over Simberi Gold Project
by PNG Business News - March 29, 2021
The Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) is gathering feedback from all project stakeholders involved in the Simberi gold mine in New Ireland to determine the best course of action for the amended memorandum of agreement (MoA).
The National Executive Council (NEC) authorised the updated MoA for signing in April 2017, according to managing director Jerry Garry. Since then, he said, several efforts by the MRA to get the parties to sign the 2017 Simberi revised MoA have failed since the New Ireland government (NIPG) has refused to sign.
The New Ireland government's reason for refusing to sign the amended deal, according to Garry, is that its proposal for expanded compensation was not taken into account.
“The benefits include royalties, special support grants and the tax credit scheme,” he said. “The State maintained its position that the current rates stipulated under relevant laws would remain until such time these rates were reviewed.”
NIPG's requests, according to Garry, were for a 10% royalty limit, up from the 2% prescribed rate; a 10% special support grant (SSG), up from the 0.25 per cent prescribed rate; and a 10% tax credit scheme (TCS), up from the 0.75 per cent prescribed rate.
Last year, NIPG sent the suggested amendments to the Office of the State Solicitor (OSS) for legal approval through an NEC request.
“The OSS advised that the Simberi revised MoA was approved by the NEC in 2017 and had gone through the legal and the established MoA vetting process and that all parties should sign,” he said. “The MRA is currently in the process of seeking the views of all project stakeholders on what would be the appropriate action to take in respect to the 2017 Simberi revised MoA. (This is) because it has been five years since the MoA was agreed on by the stakeholders to the Simberi project. The duration of the revised MoA is five years and the term has naturally lapsed,” Garry said.
The Simberi gold mine is run by St. Barbara Ltd.
PNG Business News - September 06, 2021
Delegation Visits Simberi Mine
A delegation from the Environment Department, led by environment minister Wera Mori and managing director of the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority Gunther Joku, recently visited St Barbara's Simberi facilities to discuss plans to transition to sulfide mining. The purpose of the tour was to observe firsthand the programs and projects that St Barbara is doing on the island to safeguard the island's marine and terrestrial environments. St Barbara's attempts to alleviate the effects of mining, including the waste disposal technology utilized in this project and future waste disposal plans for sulfide mining, were also on display. Following a mine mishap in May and a brief halt of operations, Simberi restarted mining last month. Mori urged St Barbara to guarantee that Simberi, as a member of PNG's mining industry, continues to contribute significantly to the country's economy. “It is the industry (mining) that’s responsible for keeping the country going. “This is not because you generate revenue for your company, shareholders, and employees, but also the country derives revenue from this project and it is in our (government’s) interest to see that you get back into production,” said Minister Mori. Minister Mori, a geologist with almost 30 years in the profession, was also equipped with a geo pick and conducted some rock samples in Simberi's pits. The cocoa farm and nursery were also exhibited to Mori and his colleagues. “You’re way ahead with your end of mine life programs here in Simberi. “The mine will come and go, but the landowners must be able to support themselves beyond mine life and this project is a good way to sustain their livelihoods,” said Mori. He also paid a visit to the Maragon sub-health centre, which is operated by the government and funded by St Barbara, as well as the Simberi Primary School. Kevin Woodward, Simberi's interim General Manager, thanked the minister for his visit to the project. Reference: Post-Courier (31 August 2021). “Environment Minister Visits Simberi”.
PNG Business News - February 21, 2022
COVID-19 Outbreak at Simberi – FY22 guidance withdrawn
Photo: Simberi Mine St Barbara Limited notes the COVID-19 pandemic infection rates across the Tabar Island group have increased significantly, impacting the local communities and our workforce. While gold production at Simberi Operations continues, ramp-up of mining operations is not achieving target rates and uncertainty remains as to when full workforce participation can resume. The Company has elected to withdraw FY22 guidance as it focuses on the health and safety of the local community and its workforce, while also progressing recovery options. St Barbara Managing Director and CEO Craig Jetson said, “The health and safety of the local community and our workforce is our primary concern. Of our circa 600 daily workforce, today there are 139 active cases. The majority of those cases are asymptomatic with no-one hospitalised. While we have experienced previous COVID-19 surges, this Omicron outbreak is proving to be far more disruptive. This is a difficult time for the community, the site team and I have met with the community leaders to offer our support. The Community Relations and Medical teams are actively working with the community offering testing and vaccination support.” St Barbara notes the current reduction in commercial flights across PNG due to pilot shortage as the pandemic impacts the aviation industry. This is anticipated to impact our ability to source additional supplies and rotate senior national and expatriate staff. The mine and processing plant continue to operate at a reduced rate. When we have greater certainty on the situation St Barbara will be in a better position to quantify the ongoing impact of the COVID19 outbreak and provide updated FY22 guidance. Article courtesy of St Barbara Limited
PNG Business News - March 28, 2022
Simberi COVID-19 outbreak under control
St Barbara Limited now expects Simberi will produce between 25-30koz at an AISC of $3,200-3,600 per ounce in FY22. Group FY22 production has been updated to 275-290koz and AISC of $1,750-1,870 per ounce. Guidance for Leonora and Atlantic remain unchanged. St Barbara Limited withdrew guidance for its Simberi operations on 18 February 2022 due to significant increases in COVID-19 pandemic infection rates across the Tabar Island group exacerbating the difficulties in ramping up operations after six months in care and maintenance. At its peak the outbreak caused 270 people at the Simberi operation to be in isolation of its circa 600 regular daily workforce. Currently there are 12 employees in isolation and the outbreak is considered to be under control. A combination of limited operators and maintainers during the outbreak resulted in low truck availability reducing the amount of material mined and hauled, with production for the third quarter now expected to be ~11koz. The face position in the pits are significantly behind schedule leading to reduced oxide ore being available in Q4. Notwithstanding the restoration of national workforce numbers, the Company has determined that ramp-up rates will be slower than previously anticipated. The ongoing difficulties with securing expatriate maintenance specialists and operations management is expected to impact Q4 FY22 and the new guidance range reflects that assessment. Article courtesy of St Barbara Limited
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PNG Business News - August 12, 2022
Going Green: FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG Programme provides green-powered facility to local agricultural authorities to effectively service rural farmers
EU Funded UN Joint STREIT Programme in Papua New Guinea establishes a renewable energy-powered facility to support local government authorities in East Sepik Province, in delivering effective services to rural farmers and entrepreneurs. With generous support of the European Union, the FAO-led EU STREIT Programme officially opened a new 3 cluster office building on 10 August 2022, to host the Programme along with the East Sepik provincial divisions of Agriculture and Livestock, Cocoa Board and the National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority. The new-look office building is powered by 189 solar panels, which significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduces the collective dependence on fossil fuel. The solar panels supply the building with 90 KW of energy, relieving the resident agencies and authorities from relying on fossil-generated electricity for their needs, including lighting, ICT, water pumping, and temperature control. This zero-carbon-emission facility has the capacity to accommodate around 90 experts, technicians and extension service officers. Equipped with 120 batteries, the building can support staff’s operation for 36 hours in case of experiencing high cloud cover. The building, currently co-resided by the Programme and provincial agricultural bodies, will be transferred over to the East Sepik Provincial Administration at the end of the Programme and will continue to provide a sustainable base for sustainable support to agriculture-related services in the Province. Officiating the opening ceremony, His Excellency Ambassador Jernej Videtič, Head of the European Union Delegation to PNG, in his address, said: “I am happy to be here and to see that things are moving in the right direction to bring sustainable benefits to the people of East Sepik” Ambassador Videtič further highlighted that “with resources from the citizens of Europe to fund the EU-STREIT Programme in providing training, tools and support, the quantity and quality of cocoa, vanilla and fisheries products will increase. The objective is also to protect these quality products in international markets under the EU-STREIT introduced initiative of Geographical Indication.” The East Sepik Acting Deputy Provincial Administrator, Mr James Baloiloi, in his speech expressed his appreciation to the EU for funding the EU-STREIT Programme and the interventions that the Programme is doing in East Sepik and Sandaun provinces. “The STREIT Programme has gone ahead to introduce a culture of agribusiness that now enables the people of this Province and the people of Sandaun Province to have cash income that can sustain their livelihoods.” Mr Baloiloi added, “this infrastructure and building supports us and facilitates the service delivery to our people in this Province as well as Sandaun Province.” Thanking the EU for its generous funding support, Dr Xuebing Sun, the EU-STREIT Programme Coordinator, said: “the Programme has generated substantial impacts at beneficiary, local institutions and enabling business environment levels. This would not be possible with good partnership, increased ownerships and leaderships of the governments and implementing partners.” “This co-residing and close co-operation among UN agencies and their national partners in this integrated space reflect the partnership approach taken by the Programme to sustainably develop agri-enterprise activities in the region,” added Dr Xuebing Sun, adding “the new climate-friendly facility, which is fully powered by solar energy, also provides a space to welcome, advise and serve the farmers, including interested women and youth, who play very important roles along agri-food value chains”. “This kind of ‘green investment’ enables a shift to a more green economy for local institutions and infrastructure to meet cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains stakeholders” advised Anthony Bennett, the FAO Lead Technical Officer of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme. United Nations’ implementing partners supporting the FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG present in the office include the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The EU-STREIT PNG is being implemented as a UN Joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the Country and the Pacific region. It focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transport and energy infrastructure development.
Paul Oeka - August 12, 2022
CPAPNG annual meet to discuss global changes
Certified Practicing Accountants of Papua New Guinea will be hosting their 23rd annual conference with about 400 participants nationwide expected to attend the two day conference organized by CPA PNG in Lae Morobe Province from August 18 to19, 2022 CPAPNG was established in 1974 and has come a long way with a lot of achievements along the way. Over the years its membership grew from mere numbers to just below 2000 which includes 40% locals and 60% non-citizens. . The CPA PNG conference is one of CPAs three significant annual events on their calendar with this year's conference theme; Is PNG prepared for the recession?" The conference will see certain key leaders in executive management roles from both the public and private sector delivering presentations in line with the conference theme. CPA PNG's Executive Director Mr. Yuwak Tau said the theme of the conference was selected because there was a decline in the global economy and the general so when that eventuates small economies tend to be affected. He added that they have basically selected the theme that was current and appropriate so that members would find relevance during the course of the conference. “The meeting is to create intellectual and interactive discussions with seasoned business leaders to present and share their ideas and experiences to find probable outcomes within their business environment and industries in times of economic uncertainty”. Some of the topics to be presented by consultants are current significant issues such as crypto currency, transport pricing, bit coin block chain technology and stress management. This were some topics that people have heard about but have not really ventured into. Mr. Tau added that it would be quite hard to measure the benefits immediately but the participants will be able to look at insights shared during the conference that would be appropriate in the areas of employment, accounting, finance, auditing and others. The conference will create an environment where participants can also share information so That they can take points to apply in their work place and industries. In relation the Kumul petroleum Holdings had also presented a cheque of K50, 000 to support the coming event at their head office. The cheque was presented by KPHL's executive General Manager Corporate Affairs, Luke Liria and was received by CPA PNG Chairman Richard Kuna. Mr. Liria said KPHL has appreciated the effort put in by CPA PNG to ensure that its members in State owned enterprises and the private sector were given appropriate level of training and as part of KPHL's corporate social responsibility and commitment they hope that their support will continue to help the organization facilitate and make sure the accounting practices is of international standards. CPA PNG's Chairman, Richard Kuna acknowledged KPHL for their support and stated that he was looking forward to seeing KPHL being a big part of the upcoming conference.
Paul Oeka - August 12, 2022
BSP: Small to Medium Enterprises Loans reaches 60% rate.
Bank South Pacific's Financial Group Ltd Chief executive officer Mr. Robin Fleming has recently announced that the bank has granted more than K200 million as loans to small to medium enterprises under its credit scheme facility that the then Marape government had released to the bank to support Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) and local businesses during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Fleming said about 1523 customer loans have been approved, that is about 60% of loan approval rates since 2019. Prior to this announcement BSP and the Department of Commerce and Industry (DCI) had agreed to increase the maximum loan under the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) credit enhancement facility to K5 million. The previous limit was K3 million when the Government first released K100 million as security to the bank under its K200 million SME allocation for BSP to rollout the loan facility last year. Fleming stated that even though they have exhausted and rolled out the bulk of the governments relief funds for SME's they will still be running the SME loan program under its credit facility scheme “At this stage, BSP has not received the funding planned for this year but that is not preventing BSP from giving loans under the facility”. “There remains significant capacity for BSP to continue to assess, approve and funds loans under the facility”. “The agreement with the Government did provide for momentum in the SME facility to be maintained while allowing for the Government budget and funding process to be adhered to”. As part of the government SME relief funding, Commercial Banks were allocated K200 million with BSP Financial Group receiving K100 million, NDB K80 million and another K20 million was allocated to the department of Commerce and Industry BSP could not comment on how the National Development Bank (NDB) is dealing with the K80 million it received, but the intent, when discussions were initiated, was that BSP would be lending to more mature SMEs and NDB to startup ventures. In addition to enabling SMEs to access lower cost of funds through the facility with BSP, the bank has also made it a responsibility to ensure that Government funding is preserved by not approving loans that have a higher risk of default.