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Businesses Welcome Porgera Reopening

by PNG Business News - April 19, 2021

The reopening of Porgera has been welcomed by the Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), as the mine provides jobs in shipping, processing, distribution, and movement of products from Lae up the Highlands.

President of the LCCI, John Byrne, said that while resource projects were important for the economy, it was also encouraging to see the government and other organizations working to improve agriculture.

“It is a vital step for our country in terms of investor confidence, but of equal and more important to the lives and livelihood of our people and businesses from Porgera down to Lae, not excluding the beneficial impact to all provinces,” he said.

“Agriculture is a key programme in PNG but without the resource projects, local and overseas investment, education and planning they will not bring immediate relief to our communities.

“It will take some months to restore the site to a safe and operational business and we encourage all parties to work together to ensure this happens with due haste.

“We also encourage the opening of progressive talks on Wafi-Golpu, another critical project which will have a broader impact than simply a resource project.

“With the combined pressure of the Covid-19 having a detrimental effect on the economy and health of our people, and the shortening of forex (foreign exchange) and Government funds to pay suppliers, important investments and projects like these provide a platform which will as Prime Minister James Marape says, move to ‘Take back PNG’, for all local and overseas legal and tax-paying businesses and our people,” Byrne said.

Meanwhile, Bank South Pacific group chief executive officer Robin Fleming said, “Notwithstanding that there still needs to be a more detailed agreement on certain aspects of the agreements, Friday’s announcement gives a business much confidence of a process of rehabilitation of the mine commencing with a re-commissioning this year.”

“Barrick’s stated commitment to funding the costs associated with re-commissioning is also positive, and preliminary work required to move the mine towards commencing operations will-in-itself bring much needed foreign exchange into the country.

“Businesses in Porgera and support companies, especially transportation companies will see this as a much-needed boost to their businesses and of course former employees of the Porgera Joint Venture will be looking forward to rejoining the workforce.”

Cameron Mackellar, CEO of Brian Bell Group, said the country needed this now more than ever because it "would most likely help kick-start a very subdued economy," as well as his company's industry, especially in regional locations.

“It will be great to hear when operations will resume and see the positive impacts on all those small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) who absolutely relied on Porgera operations.”

The Stanley Hotel and Suites general manager Geoff Haigh said like everyone in the hospitality industry, they were pleased with the news about the Porgera gold mine reopening. This will provide a much-needed boost to the economy in general,” he said.

It was a relief to the local population and business houses in the Porgera-Laiagam and Enga areas, according to the Porgera chamber of commerce and industry.

President Nickson Pakea said the mine's closure a year ago had a major impact on smaller companies working in the Porgera mine's industry spin-off catchments.

Since last April, the mine has been closed and in care and repair due to the State's refusal to extend the exclusive mining contract.

It is expected to reopen later this year.

According to the terms of the deal, Porgera will be owned 51 per cent by PNG stakeholders (Kumul Mineral Holdings Ltd, Enga government, and landowners) and 49 per cent by Barrick Niugini Ltd in a new joint venture (BNL).



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Government Ready to Sign Porgera Reopening

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 - April 08, 2021

Porgera Workers Receive Certificates

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

PMAWU Embraces Mine Reopening

The reopening of the Porgera Gold Mine at the earliest, according to the Porgera Mining and Allied Workers Union (PMAWU), is good news. This comes after the PNG government announced that Barrick Niugini Limited would ink a new deal for the reopening of the Porgera Gold Mine. The PMAWU Executives said in a statement that those directly affected have suffered since the mine's closure. “The mine workers, who have been directly impacted since last April, have been struggling to make ends meet,” they said. “Those who were not able to secure an alternative job have been depleting their superannuation savings. They have the necessary skills and experiences to operate the mine when it resumes. Any news to reopen the mine, at the earliest is welcome news for the Union and its impacted employees.” They expressed their delight at the news that the state is ready to ink a Porgera Mine Reopening Framework Agreement with Barrick. Following the mine's closing, the PMAWU Executives said that the Prime Minister made many promises to them. Employees who have been affected will get financial assistance. “The PMJM has made several commitments, on media and also during our meeting with him on the 25th July 2020 at the Airways Hotel, that his government will consider a monetary solace for those impacted employees, as such the union, with the help of our mother body being PNGTUC, have been following up with PM & NEC Department by way of an NEC Submission but to this date, our welfares have not been looked into yet. The trucking contractors were fairly compensated for their losses but not us.” Another assurance was to include a clause in the framework arrangement ensuring that all affected workers are immediately reinstated to their previous positions prior to the redundancies. The PMAWU Executives have already presented a briefing paper on improved terms and conditions, and they expect their complaints to be heard and properly addressed in the proposed Framework Agreement.  “The union also submitted a Position Paper concerning same to all relevant stakeholders in the negotiation tables. If the country is heading for better deals for its citizens, then the workers who will spin the wheels to run the production must be fairly remunerated as well.” “The Union has an option to refuse to resume operations if the above considerations are not met in the final Framework Agreement once settled. Consideration of this option may or may not happen subject to sighting of the final Framework Agreement.” Following a settlement in talks between the State and Barrick, Prime Minister Marape announced on April 5 that PNG would get a "far superior offer" than the previous agreement, which lasted from 1989 to 2021. “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. Prime Minister Marape added that “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.” Marape has reported that Barrick and has settled a 10-year withdrawal clause in the current Porgera deal. The Prime Minister's statement made no mention of affected mine employees.

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