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Porgera Mine Continues COVID-19 Vaccination Program
by PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Photo Credit: Porgera JV - Medical and Health, Nursing Officer, Koya Epa giving 2nd jab of COVID-19 vaccine to Governance and Risk, Specialist- Analyst, Tkay Tau, who is one of the two PJV employees who received two (2) jabs of the vaccine.
The Porgera Mine in Enga Province will continue to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program for employees and contractors, who are currently part of the Care and Maintenance (C&M)team.
When the AstraZeneca vaccine was rolled out at the mine site on the 21st May 2021, 23 volunteer employees and contractors received the jab, and to date a total of 162 employees and contractors have been vaccinated. So far two employees have received their second shots after being vaccinated initially at their point of hire, while the first 23 volunteers are expected to receive their second jab in August.
As a part of the company’s commitment and to encourage employees to get vaccinated, an incentive program was launched this week that gives K50 cash to employees after receiving their first jab, and a monthly draw for a K500 voucher.
This has seen the number of employees and contractors receiving the jab increase, with our highest weekly number of 34 vaccinated employees.
The vaccine is being administered weekly by the Mine Medical team and the rest of the C&M workforce are being encouraged to get the jab.
PJV Chief Medical Officer Dr. Isaac Asa said it has been a challenge to encourage employees due to misinformation and conspiracy theories, but he is encouraged to see the number of employees and contractors coming forward each week gradually increasing.
“We usually get on average 14-15 employees on vaccination day, but since the beginning of the incentive program that has doubled. Many employees and contractors are still hesitant to get the vaccine due to misinformation and conspiracy theories.“
PJV will continue to educate and encourage all of its employees and contractors to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their work colleagues, and their families from COVID-19, with the incentive program the latest initiative the Mine Management team has implemented.
The Niupela Pasin protocols are strictly being observed across site.
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.
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.
PNG Business News - April 06, 2021
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."
PNG Business News - July 22, 2021
Oil Search Considering Merging with Santos
Santos, an Australian oil firm, announced its plan to combine with Oil Search Limited. Santos proposed a non-binding indicative merger last month with the goal of making the two companies the regional energy champions. The proposed merged entity has a market capitalization of A$22 billion (K56 billion), putting it among the top 20 ASX-listed companies and the top 20 global oil and gas companies. This means, among other things, that the merger will have a diverse portfolio of high-quality, long-life assets spanning Australia and Papua New Guinea, a solid balance sheet with ample cash to support expansion choices, and an investment-grade credit rating. The merger plan, if approved, would be conducted through a Scheme of Arrangement in which Oil Search shareholders would receive 0.589 new Santos shares for each Oil Search share held, according to Santos in a market disclosure to the Australian Stock Exchange. Following the scheme's acceptance, Oil Search shareholders would control 37% of the combined company, while Santos shareholders would own 63%. Based on Santos' closing price on June 24, 2021, the ownership ratio suggested a transaction price of A$4.25 (10.92) per Oil Search share. This was a 12.3% premium to the Oil Search closing price of A$3.78 (K9.72) on June 24, 2021, and a 9.8% premium to the Mubadala block trade selling price of A$3865. (K9.92). Kevin Gallagher, managing director and chief executive officer of Santos, said the merger will bring more alignment to PNG, allowing for the development of important projects such as Papua LNG, as well as the creation of new employment and support for the local economy. Santos, according to Gallagher, has proposed a true merger in which ownership of the combined firm is based on proportionate contribution and value. “The strategic rationale for a merger is clear and offers superior value to Oil Search shareholders rather than continuing on a standalone basis. “Santos continues to believe that the Merger Proposal represents an extremely attractive opportunity to deliver compelling value accretion to both Santos and Oil Search shareholders.” Oil Search stated in its ASX market update that it is open to receiving and engaging with any proposal that is in the best interests of its shareholders. While the company's board of directors agrees with Santos that combining the two firms makes strategic sense, the conditions must be fair to the company's shareholders, which the terms proposed by Santos are not. Despite Santos shareholders holding 70% more shares than Oil Search shareholders, Oil Search maintains that the proposed conditions provide just a 6.8% premium based on Friday's closing share prices for Oil Search and Santos. According to the firm, no such proposal has been made at this time. Reference: Post-Courier (21 July 2021). "Oil Search Open To Merger with Santos".
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Study Says Sweet Potato Growers Have Received Significant Insights into Customers Buying Habits
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), sweet potato (kaukau) growers have received significant insight into customer buying habits, which is assisting them in identifying new market possibilities. The recent market analysis, which was supported by the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership and conducted by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, revealed that an increasing number of consumers in Port Moresby prefer to buy fresh produce from supermarkets, citing convenience and safety as reasons. While this trend may result in fewer consumers at conventional farmer markets, PNG and Australian experts believe it may open up new marketplaces for rural people. “Farmers are looking for stable markets where they can receive more consistent prices for better-quality produce,” said Professor Philip Brown from Central Queensland University (CQU), who is leading the research project. “The research shows that consumer behaviour is likely to support an expansion in the supermarket sector in large urban centres and this is positive news for the farmers. This could allow commercial focused farmers to secure more stable market access.” The study of 353 customers was conducted as part of ACIAR-funded sweet potato research sponsored by CQU and the PNG National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), which aims to improve sweet potato value chains by increasing the quality of harvested roots. Sweet potato quality and production are improving, resulting in increasing supplies to retailers eager to provide better fresh produce. “The project, with support from the Fresh Produce Development Agency and NARI, is helping farmers to build their business skills and connect with emerging supermarket opportunities,” said Professor Brown. Kirt Hainzer, a CQU researcher who collaborated on the survey alongside NARI researchers, said it was the first study to look at customer behaviour and see what role stores may play in the development of PNG's commercial sweet potato sector. “The research sought to better understand and compare how consumers buy staples from open markets and supermarkets and to explore the preferences for purchasing staple foods as supermarkets increase the availability of convenience staples like rice,” said Hainzer. “Although expanding formal sales represents a huge step forward in developing a commercial sweet potato industry, continued research on consumer preferences and the market for fresh produce will help better understand trends in staple food purchasing and what market opportunities exist for growers.” With over a hundred kinds of sweet potato in the nation, NARI economist Raywin Ovah said the study sought to find out which of these customers preferred. “Not all the varieties are preferred from a consumer point of view. There are only a few that consumers want to be based on the taste or health properties and that is what we want to also find out. Farmers can be provided with that information, so they produce those varieties that the market wants.” One of five initiatives under the Transformative Agriculture and Enterprise Development Program is a project to increase commercial sweet potato production and commercialization in the PNG highlands. The ACIAR program, which is funded by Australia in collaboration with the government of Papua New Guinea, aims to improve the livelihoods of rural men and women through private sector-led development, increased agricultural productivity and quality, and the development of individual and institutional capacity. Reference: Loop (20 July 2021). “Study looks into sweet potato industry”.
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
Garry: MRA Evaluating K50 Billion Worth of Investments
According to managing director Jerry Garry, the Mineral Resources Authority is evaluating more than K50 billion in investments in the country. Wafi-Golpu, Frieda River, and Woodlark are among them. “We are also looking at the Central Lime and Cement,” he said. “If that project comes on-stream, it will be one of the first industrial mines ever built in the country.” Garry was speaking at a Port Moresby consultation session on the Mine and Works (Safety and Health) Bill 2021. PNG, he added, was home to some of the world's largest mines. “We have grown from strength to strength,” he said. “If you compare the Bank of PNG statistics, the mining sector alone, in terms of production, has exported over K17 billion in 2020 and 2019. “So it’s a huge industry that we are trying to regulate and manage.” Garry expressed gratitude to the industry for making safety a primary priority. “They have been taking health and safety at the workplaces very seriously,” he said. “We must not only consider (the workers) and the environment but also people living around the (areas) we operate in. “And if we are using any hazards, we must also take responsibility.” The newest mining methods in Wafi-Golpu, known as block cave mining, are one of the new things to expect, according to Garry. “New mining hazards will come with this new mining method,” he said. Reference: The National (20 July 2021). “Authority assessing investments worth K50bil”.