Ok Tedi Halts Operations in Order to Contain the Spread of Covid-19
by PNG Business News - March 19, 2021
COVID-19 has forced Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) to pause operations in order to protect its employees, communities, and operations.
Due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases at the mine site and in Papua New Guinea, OTML will temporarily pause operations on Friday, March 19th for 14 days to prevent further virus transmission within its operations.
This suspension, according to OTML, coincides with the PNG government's National Isolation Strategy, which will go into effect on Monday, March 22nd. The success of the control steps, as well as when the virus has been contained, will decide when regular operations will resume.
The decision to halt operations reflects OTML's commitment to take all reasonable steps to ensure the protection, health, and well-being of its staff, families, contractors, and host communities, as well as to allow a stable, cost-effective, and timely resumption of operations for the benefit of all stakeholders.
During the suspension, the organization will take steps such as repatriating non-essential workers to their home provinces and introducing a mass testing program for its staff.
Any staff may be forced to work regular hours during the suspension of operations in order to maintain essential services or for treatment and maintenance. The suspension is expected to result in a revenue loss of about PGK210 million, which will have a direct effect on foreign currency inflows into PNG.
Meanwhile, the Company is weighing its options in light of the Australian government's decision to temporarily halt the fly-in and fly-out of mineworkers based in Australia.
It said, “We do not anticipate significant disruption to our operations as a result of the Australian Government’s announcement, however, we are looking at alternative ways to repatriate several of our expatriate employees during the suspension of operations.”
After COVID-19 cases were discovered in Queensland from international travellers in hotel quarantine, the company declared that it was suspending international charter flights into Australia. OTML hires over 1,800 people directly, with less than 4% of them being expatriates.
OTML also confirmed that it would collaborate with the PNG government to help with vaccine procurement and distribution for OTML employees.
PNG Business News - March 31, 2021
Ok Tedi Mining Welcomes 40 New Trainees
Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) has added 40 new interns to its internship programs for 2021. Sixteen of the intakes will be part of the Graduate Development Scheme for two years, while the other 24 will be trade graduates who will complete a four-year apprenticeship program. OTML Managing Director and CEO, Musje Werror said, “Ok Tedi’s training programs are second to none and aimed at developing trainees to reach their full potential in their professional career paths and personal development.” Despite the fact that the recruitment drive was postponed due to the outbreak of the pandemic, he said that all trainees are on site and ready to join the Ok Tedi family. “The Training Centre is fully equipped to deliver high-quality training programs for both apprentices, graduates and employees which we have been doing for the past 32 years,” Werror said. One of the three main elements of OTML's commitment to developing a high-performing cohesive team is developing staff skills. He urged the newcomers to take advantage of the chance to start a new career and personal life. Werror said, “In life, you will be given opportunities, but how you approach these opportunities will determine where you end up.” Werror joined Ok Tedi as a fresh graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea thirty years ago, and today, as the managing director of the business, he is welcoming the new graduate trainees into OTML. Referring to Mr Werror’s story with OTML, Dauba Dauba, a graduate geologist from the University of Papua New Guinea said, “This in itself is an inspirational story for us.” At the programs' inception, 561 graduates and 1,194 tradesmen and women have graduated from their respective programs. Ok Tedi also provides the Preferred Area Development Training which is tailored for the locals in the Mine Preferred Areas. Manager, Organisational Development and Training, James Munro said, “We look forward to training another great batch of graduates and I encourage each and every one of you to work hard to succeed in this program.”
PNG Business News - March 31, 2021
Ok Tedi Pledges PGK20 Million to Support PNG in the Fight Against Covid-19
Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has pledged PGK20 million to assist Papua New Guinea in combating the country's rising COVID-19 cases. Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kedi Ilimbit, OTML General Manager Community and Operations Support, made the statement in March 2021, adding that OTML's dedication reflects the company's sincerity in tackling PNG's worsening COVID-19 situation. Ilimbit said PGK10 million will go to the Port Moresby General Hospital and other government departments as decided by the National Government, while the remaining PGK10 million will go toward vaccine procurement, delivery, and roll-out in the Western Province, with preference provided to OTML employees, contractors, and people. “We will be working closely with the Sustainable Development Program (SDP) and the Western Province Health Authority to implement the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan in the Western Province,” Ilimbit said. “Ok Tedi is fully committed to take the lead and join forces with the Government, and other relevant agencies to address this pandemic that is affecting all of us. Our commitment demonstrates the same duty of care we have for our employees, to be extended to other Papua New Guineans, including our people of Western Province.”
PNG Business News - March 29, 2021
Mass Testing Program Implemented at Ok Tedi Mining
Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has begun introducing a Mass Testing Program within its activities in order to avoid further COVID-19 transmission and ensure a secure return to operations. Following a spike in COVID-19 cases on the mine site and in Papua New Guinea, the company began introducing the program on Friday, March 19th, for a period of 14 days. OTML has successfully implemented the research initiative, collecting over 4,000 test samples from its staff, contractors, corporate associates, and families so far. These samples are being sent to Australia for processing, and the National Control Centre in Port Moresby is receiving daily reports. People who achieve a positive outcome are cared for and supported in the isolation and quarantine process, according to OTML's contact tracing and isolation protocols. The mass testing program, according to OTML Health Manager Dr. Charlie Turharus, has aided his medical staff, which consists of physicians and health care practitioners from the OTML-funded Tabubil Hospital, in quickly testing and isolating COVID-19 cases. “Fortunately, almost all the cases we have recorded are asymptomatic or only showing mild to moderate symptoms,” he said. OTML's Mass Testing scheme has included almost all of the mine's work areas, including Kiunga and Bige, where the company's wharf and dredging operations are located. Personnel in Port Moresby and its geographic discovery sites were also put to the test. “Our priority is the safety, health and wellbeing of all our personnel, and we will ensure that this mass testing program is implemented successfully so that we contain the spread of the virus and resume safe productions,” Dr Turharus said. The testing schedule is on target to prepare for the resumption of operations after the closure time is completed.
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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.