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.



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PNG Business News - February 21, 2022

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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

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PNG Business News - March 28, 2022

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PNG Business News - November 27, 2022

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