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Ok Tedi Mining Commences COVID-19 Vaccination Roll-Out
by PNG Business News - May 31, 2021
OTML Managing Director and CEO Musje Werror receiving his first dose of the vaccine to mark the launch of the OTML Vaccination Roll-out
Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) launched its COVID-19 Vaccination Roll-out on Friday 21st May in Tabubil, Western Province.
The launching marked the first batch of 1,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which OTML received from the National Department of Health on Wednesday 19th May.
OTML Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Musje Werror with the Company’s senior management and employees, including its contractors, business partners, Tabubil Hospital staff, and teachers received their first dose of the vaccine.
A total of 213 people were vaccinated during the launch while a further 150 people have already registered to be vaccinated this week.
“The support we have received from everyone who made the decision to keep themselves, their families, colleagues and our operations safe from COVID-19 by getting their first dose of vaccine during the launch was very encouraging.” Mr Werror said. “However, there is still a long way to go to achieve herd immunity so that we can return to some level of normality.”
Mr Werror said the Company is encouraging all its employees, contractors, public servants, town residents, business partners and teachers to receive the vaccine because it is important for the wellbeing of themselves, their families and the communities as well as the continuity of operations. He re-affirmed however, that the decision to be vaccinated remains voluntary.
Tabubil Hospital Administrator Ms Margareth Samei said the significant number of people who received the vaccine during the launch was a reflection of the level of vaccine awareness her medical team had presented to front line workers such as teachers, bankers, shop attendants, security personnel, and health care workers in the last week.
“The hospital has been working together with OTML to conduct awareness on the vaccine, and its health benefits which has helped people to make informed decisions before they get the jab. We will continue this awareness throughout the Company’s operations so that more people have the correct information on the vaccine,” she said.
OTML Superintendent for Logistics Operations, Walimu Karo, who received the vaccine said he decided to get vaccinated to protect himself and his family from the virus.
Ok Tedi Mining Limited “People overseas have taken the vaccine and they are beginning to lift restrictions such as allowing people into stadiums to watch rugby. That’s basically why I wanted to get the vaccine so that our lives can return to normal," Mr Karo said.
Since the pandemic began in March last year, mining operations at the Ok Tedi mine have been suspended twice due to an escalation of COVID-19 positive cases.
PNG Business News - March 11, 2021
PNG Gives Regulatory Approval for AztraZeneca Vaccine
The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been given regulatory approval for use in Papua New Guinea. The government is planning for the vaccine rollout, aimed to launch by the end of April, as PNG struggles to control the spread of Covid-19. The PNG Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed the various Covid-19 vaccines produced, according to Prime Minister James Marape. PNG can obtain the AstraZeneca vaccine produced through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access, or COVAX facility, he said. The World Health Organization has also given it their blessing. Vaccination would not be compulsory, according to Marape. It will be aimed at a specific audience. “A large number of health workers have been affected by the Covid-19, therefore, they will be given priority,” he said. “We are now in the process of getting the vaccine across, hopefully by April.” PNG will receive a total of 588,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the first allocation by the end of June, according to the Department of Health. The vaccine will be sent to PNG in two shipments: the first, consisting of 288,000 doses, is scheduled to arrive in late March or early April, and the second, consisting of the remaining 300,000 doses, will arrive in late May or early June. Frontline vital health staff will be the first to be vaccinated, with the first batch arriving by the end of June, followed by the most vulnerable, such as those with co-morbidities and the elderly, in the second half of the year. Marape expressed concern in a statement that Covid-19 has infected a significant number of health workers, and that they will be given priority for vaccination. "Health workers will be vaccinated first as we are seeing a growing number of health workers who are getting infected in the line of their work," he said. "There is evidence that there is a large community transmission in the National Capital District, and that is affecting health workers who have come in contact with Covid-19 patients in the course of their duty. This is a serious community transmission and we are now relooking at our own isolation strategies, and how we can best look after our health workers while processes for bringing in the vaccine are completed and the vaccines are brought into the country." The prime minister said that he would not take the vaccine ahead of those who need it most and that he would only do so to demonstrate to Papua New Guineans that the vaccine can help them combat the virus. “It must be emphasised that even with the vaccine, we must maintain and strengthen public health measures such as face masking, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, respiratory and cough hygiene, avoiding crowds and ensuring good ventilation,” said Marape.
PNG Business News - March 24, 2021
PNG Receives 8,000 Covid-19 Vaccines From Australia
Australia has sent 8,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Port Moresby's Jacksons Airport as part of its continuing assistance to PNG to contain and combat the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Prime Minister James Marape expressed gratitude to the Australian Government at the airport where the vaccinations were sent, saying that Australia continues to assist PNG wherever it is required. The launch of the vaccinations was observed by Prime Minister Marape and the Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea His Excellency Jon Philp, Minister of Health and HIV/AIDS Jelta Wong, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock John Simon, Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response and Police Commissioner Mr David Manning, and Secretary for Health Dr Osbourne Liko. According to Marape, Australia has agreed to provide another million vaccines to Papua New Guinea. In the next two to three months, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its allies will secure almost 700,000 vaccines for PNG. “These vaccines are not compulsory for all citizens but would be available for those who feel that they need to protect themselves against COVID-19. Our health workers in the first instance would be given preference before the rest of us,” Prime Minister Marape said. The Prime Minister has claimed that he would be glad to be the first citizen to receive the vaccine in order to illustrate that it is safe for others to receive it too.
PNG Business News - May 03, 2021
Marape Starts Vaccine Roll-Out
On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape will formally start the vaccine roll-out in the country at the APEC House in Port Moresby. Government ministers, regional governors, and dignitaries, including delegates from PNG's foreign partners, are scheduled to attend the presentation, which begins at 10 a.m. David Manning, Police Commissioner and Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response, said most of PNG's 22 provinces will have obtained their AstraZenega vaccine and completed their training in advance of the May 5 national roll-out. He explained that the COVID-19 vaccine's National Roll-out Programme began on March 25-26 with a COVID-19 vaccination training for all Provincial Emergency Operation Centres (PEOCs), followed by a series of training activities/workshops for different target groups covering an outline of the vaccination program and microplanning, vaccine, immunization protection, connectivity, and demand creation. In the first round, 103,725 people have been registered to be vaccinated, according to Manning. They are either health care employees, support personnel in both public and private health hospitals, workers in quarantine and isolation facilities, students in health establishments such as nursing colleges and medical schools, jail guards, border and immigration/customs agents, seaport workers, or airport/aviation workers. officers, airline workers, police, Defence Force personnel and teachers. According to the Controller, the cumulative number of cases in PNG had increased to 11,206 in the last 24 hours, finishing at 12 p.m. on Friday, April 30. “That is from a total of just over 92,000 tests we have conducted to date for COVID-19. We are recording cases every day so the vaccine will be critical to our COVID-19 response going forward. I urge everyone to be responsible and make that important life-saving decision to take the jab. Protect yourself and your family,” Manning said.
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PNG Business News - June 15, 2021
PNG Vanilla Company Partners Expo2020 Team
Dr. Nancy Irwin (left) with the Deputy Commissioner General for Expo2020 and Head of the PNG Expo2020 Secretariat, Mrs. Jacinta Warakai-Manua began the partnership to tell the PNG Vanilla story in Dubai, by exchanging ideas in Port Moresby last week. A vanilla production and export company is partnering with the PNG Expo2020 Team to promote their products in the Dubai World Exposition that starts in October this year. KAMAPIM, a company working with landowners in the Madang and Morobe Provinces produces top quality vanilla beans and is already exporting to the EU market. The Managing Director of the company Dr. Nancy Irwin, met with the PNG Commissioner General to Expo2020 Ambassador Joshua Kalinoe and his Deputy Mrs. Jacinta Warakai-Manua in Port Moresby last week to firm up the arrangements. Dr. Irwin said Kamapim (pidgin for develop and to improve) concentrates its efforts in producing the best quality bean for the international market through quality assurance production methods. “PNG farmers can grow anything, they have instinctive ability to grow well any crops. When I first started the project, the quality of the beans were poor, full of fungus due to lack of processing knowledge. We saw huge potential of the organically grown beans and started working with landowners through a cooperative production and marketing structure to improve quality” “The company provide extension services to farmers and buy the beans directly, ensuring farmers are paid a fair price for their efforts”, she said. Dr Irwin said the beans are tested internationally and are consistently classed as the top-quality A grade level. “While PNG has a good perception of growing environment friendly organic vanilla beans, the challenge is for the relevant Government authorities to work with farmers to improve quality. I believe the cooperative production methods applied by our company, Kamapim, could be used nationally as one of the models to improve quality for the export market as well as to maximize revenue gain for farmers”, Dr. Irwin said. She said the company is looking forward to partnering with the PNG Expo2020 Team to tell the PNG story and to connect with niche importers in Dubai and the Arab world in general. Dr. Irwin said the company would promote its products in specially branded PNG Expo2020 containers to create visibility for the country as well as to preserve quality at the company’s cost.
PNG Business News - June 15, 2021
PNGEITI Praises Open Dialogue to Reopen Porgera Mine
The PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI) has praised the open stakeholder dialogue culminating in reaching consensus to re-open the Pogera Mine in Enga. Parties in April this year sanctioned a “Framework Agreement for the New Pogera Project” which spells out the roadmap to reopen the mine. Mark Bristow, CEO and President of Barrick Gold last week explained key elements of “Framework Agreement for the New Pogera Project” at a public forum at the Piam Oval in Pogera witnessed by PNG Prime Minister James Marape, landowners and other leaders. In the new agreement, PNG stakeholders will together own a 51 % equity stake in the mine while Barrick Niguini Limited (BNL), a joint venture company in which Barrick and Zijin Mining Group each own 50% will hold 49 %. BNL will remain the mine operator. At the end of the first ten year period, the PNG stakeholders will have the option to purchase BNL’s 49 % PNGEITI Head of Secretariat Lucas Alkan remarked that the open discussion throughout the negotiation process on the part of the mine operating lead, Government and landowners has culminated in this agreement signed happily by all parties. “We at the PNGEITI congratulate the Government and the project lead Barrick Gold and other stakeholders for reaching a consensus decision to reopen the mine. “Pogera has been an economic powerhouse for many years and people in the country have been waiting for the outcome. “We commend the Prime Minister, the President and CEO of Barrick Gold Mr. Mark Bristow for the leadership in ensuring that the negotiations were done in the transparent and open manner. “PNG Extractive Industries Transparency highly encourages such openness in the negotiating process for resources benefits and importantly the responsibilities that each stakeholder must take on to ensure smooth flow of proceeds. “We look forward to working with the Government and the project operator in the areas of transparency and accountability to help derive best value for all stakeholders. PNGEITI commitment to reporting on developments in the mining and petroleum space is becoming stronger with new reporting dimensions taking shape as we making progress in promoting transparency and accountability in the PNG mining and petroleum industry” Mr. Alkan said.
PNG Business News - June 14, 2021
BPNG Goes For Review
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey has revealed the terms of reference for a review of the Bank of PNG, as well as the members of the review panel. Former Chief Secretary Robert Igara will lead the study, which was planned in the Supplementary Budget for 2020. Former central bank governor Sir Wilson Kamit and Australian professor Dr Stephen Howes are the two members. “These very eminent people, all of whom have detailed experience of the PNG financial system and reform, will be working to a term of reference approved recently by the NEC,” Ling-Stuckey said. “It is the first review of the central bank and the Central Banking Act 2002 since Sir Mekere Morauta’s financial system reforms when he was prime minister from 1999 to 2002. “Much has changed since then, and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, along with substantial technological advances, have made the need for a review even more urgent. “The aim is to modernise the bank and the legislation in line with international developments, and make it more responsive to prevailing circumstances while preserving its independence.” The study is scheduled to be finished in time for Parliament's November session. “An independent advisory group was also established by the late Sir Mekere when looking at the changes that led to the Central Banking Act 2000,” he said. “Igara, currently the University of Papua New Guinea chancellor, was chief secretary at the time, and Sir Wilson was the governor of the Central Bank. “Prof Howes, head of the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University, has long been involved in PNG research and advice and consultation, particularly in relation to national development.” Reference: The National (8 June 2021). “BPNG going for review”.