MRA: It will take six years to process gold, copper for Wafi-Golpu Project in PNG
by PNG Business News - September 19, 2022
Photo credit: Newcrest
According to managing director Jerry Garry of the Papua New Guinea Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), processing and shipping of the gold or copper from the Wafi-Golpu project will take six years.
He commended the province executive council and Morobe Governor Luther Wenge for promoting the project's launch.
Wenge announced that Morobe has approved the start-up of the US$5.4 billion (K18.5 billion) Wafi-Golpu project.
Wenge said that Wafi Golpu was a source of income that Morobe was losing out on as a result of the delay in starting it up.
He declared that the Morobe administration, commanded by the late governor Gibson Saonu, would drop all legal actions.
Wenge stated that the province was ready to formally approve the mine and the deep sea tailing placement (Dstp) technique of mine waste disposal in December.
“Wafi-Golpu will open and DSTP will go on.
“Anyone who disagrees can take it to court with their own research and facts,” he said.
Garry said: “That is very positive support. As a regulator, (the MRA is) pleased.
“In terms of project permitting, we recognise that the project has some more work to do.
“They (operator) must be permitted to go underground, drill more holes, understand the rock formation and improve their confidence in the mineral resource itself.
“Within the five years, they will be doing a lot of drilling and developing platforms for the construction of the mine, etc.”
Reference: Pacific Mining Watch (11 September 2022). “It will take six years to process gold, copper for Wafi-Golpu Project in PNG : MRA”.
PNG Business News - March 11, 2021
PNG Technical Team Will Work on Assessment on the Wafi-Golpu Mining Project
By the end of the month, a technical team from the Papua New Guinea technical (PNG) Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) will soon be tabling an assessment on the details regarding the construction of the Wafi-Golpu Mining project to the mining advisory council (MAC) According to MRA managing director Jerry Garry, “Permitting of a special mining lease for large projects will require a different pathway than permitting a medium scale to small scale mine under the mining lease,” he said. “For a special mining lease, requires three distinct pathways for permitting. One, environmental permitting is a mandatory requirement and is done independently through the environment act under the custody of the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa). That process has been done and Cepa has issued the environmental permit for the Wafi-Golpu project. “The other is technical, from the mining perspective,” he said. “That includes looking at structures to be built on the ground, the roads the buildings, the processing plants. Because it will be an underground operation, we will also look at designs to critically ensure that the integrity of the structures and any development met the expected standards. Once that is done and we are satisfied, we will give the green light for them to go and construct. During construction, we also provide that oversight to ensure that it is done safely. We have looked at all the proposals. Our technical team is about to table the technical assessment to MAC for the council to deliberate on. We anticipate that process to conclude by at least the end of March.” Garry added that if it goes to the MAC and the council was okay with it, then the council would deliberate on the application. The third stream was the mining development contract, he said. “It’s between the State and developer to go by the books in terms of the benefits and any fiscal stability that they want,” he said. “When that is locked in, then we have a lower level called a development forum which will then involve MRA and State team to negotiate with the provincial government, LLGs and landowners in terms of benefits.”
PNG Business News - March 22, 2021
Miner Promises to Follow the Proper Procedures of Acquiring lease
According to an official, the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV) will follow the proper procedures before its application for special mining lease 10 is approved. David Masani, WGJV's principal community engagement advisor, stated this during the company's numerous scheduled meetings with communities that would be impacted by the K18.4 billion gold-copper project. People were using mainstream and social media to speak about the advantages and procedures, according to Masani. “Our province is jumping ahead in the process, talking about benefits, businesses and contracts,” he said. “We are not following due process; the mandated process by the government.” Moses Mambu, a representative of the Mineral Resource Authority, explained that the environmental permit was just one step in a longer phase. “An environment permit does not mean the company can now develop this project,” he said. According to Mambu, the application for SML 10 that was submitted in August 2016 is still with the government and will go through a rigorous process before being granted. A mining development contract will be signed, and a memorandum of agreement (MoA) will be developed through a developmental forum between the national, provincial, and local governments, landowners, and WGJV. “This agreement is yet to eventuate,” he said. “And two key benefits to be discussed under this agreement are royalties and equity. These are only for people living along with the pipeline footprint, SML area or the tailings outfall.” The fiscal stability agreement and the State equity acquisition agreement, according to Mambu, are two other agreements that need to be achieved. “Such things are to be considered before granting the SML,” he said.
PNG Business News - June 20, 2022
Wafi-Golpu Project On Final Stages Of Negotiation
The Wafi-Golpu project's State Negotiating Team is thought to be in the final stages of discussions with shareholding companies. However, due to the National General Election, most of the work on the ground has been put on pause. Any development forum procedure that arises following the successful completion of the mining development contract discussions, according to Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry, will be effective after the elections. “Right now the State Negotiating Team and the shareholding companies including Newcrest and Harmony Gold are very much in the final leg of negotiations. “The details of the negotiations are confidential at this stage and we will have to wait until SNT and the development concludes this phase of work,” he said. In the meanwhile, the Frieda River mine is expected to open in the fourth quarter of this year. Mr Garry stated that nothing has progressed in the assessment process for Frieda River and that they plan to begin construction after Porgera and Wafi-Golpu are completed. “Weare involved in what we called the state negotiation or the state-related negotiations. It does not only require the MRA officers but requires a full complement of state-related departments and agencies,” Mr Garry said. “In this case, we would require the participation of the State Solicitors office, National Planning, Department of Finance, and key officials from the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Commission, Bank of PNG, Department of Labour and Employment, and the Department of Commerce. “It requires all the state departments to be involved when it comes to assessing a mining project, particularly a major project such as the Freda River and Wafi-Golpu.” Reference: Wohi, Lorraine. Post-Courier (15 June 2022). “Wofi-Golpu Project On Final Leg Of Negotiation”.
Paul Oeka - September 29, 2022
AGRICULTURE HAS HUGE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
Photo credit: Oxford Business Group The creation of the new ministries by the current government for both major agricultural commodities, Coffee and Oil Palm is a huge step forward in achieving the agriculture sectors economic potential. For the past years the agricultural sector had not been fully utilized by consecutive governments as the focus had mostly been centered on the extractive industry and Mining & Petroleum sector. This important and vital sector is eventually and currently being recognized as an economic pillar to boost the state coffers. Prime Minister Hon. James Marape said the allocation and restructure of the four newly created ministries concentrating on Horticulture (Fresh produce), Coffee, Oil Palm, and Livestock to the agricultural sector is a complete paradigm shift to get agriculture moving again. The focus of the Marape Government on ‘Taking Back PNG’ is deeply rooted and aligned with the mechanisms and functions of the agricultural sector as most of the country’s population are situated in rural settings and largely depend on subsistence agriculture to sustain themselves. Coffee, Cocoa, Oil palm and Fresh produce have been a mainstay that this rural population rely on for income for so many years. As far as many Papua new Guineans can recall and relate, Agriculture has always been the foundation and backbone of the country and it can surely drive the economy forward. Although the agricultural does not match in monetary turnovers for the country, it is an economic foundation and is here to stay. In comparison over monetary benefits with other sectors, Agriculture had not been performing to expectation due to so many underlying issues concerned and faced with the value chain of agricultural commodities prompting a decline in agricultural activities over the years. The Prime Minister said it was no secret that agriculture had declined since independence in 1975, and the current allocation of the four agricultural ministries was to revive the sector for it to be a major income generator for PNG. PM Marape said this when explaining the concept and rationale for his allocation of four ministries to the agricultural sector. This direction by the Marape/Rosso Government to emphasize more on agriculture will boost agricultural activities in and around the country. Mostly the sector had not been given proper recognition for decades and had been lacking government intervention from past successive governments. Now with the current Government’s backing, the respective agricultural ministries and its industries are expected to flourish dramatically and are likely to bring more benefits. The new ministries will also empower provinces that currently do not have mining and petroleum resources. This will certainly build stronger local economic activities for future generations. “We want to see import replacement and more exports within the agriculture sector, which is why we have allocated four separate ministries to agriculture,” PM Marape said. The recognition of this agricultural industries will also ease and slowdown rural-urban drift. The number of people migrating from rural areas into towns and cities in search for better opportunities have risen in the past couple of years due to inequality in the distribution of wealth and lack of government services. Thus, the governments focus on agriculture will encourage many unemployed Papua New Guineans living in urban areas to go back to their home Provinces or villages and be self-reliant. As economic opportunities arise in rural areas from vibrant and innovative policy interventions within these newly created agricultural ministries, it will attract many to contribute meaningfully and be productive on their own customary land. Prime Minister Marape said over the last three years prior to the creation of the new agricultural ministries, his government has given millions of kina to support agriculture through price and freight subsidies and SME support. “We are now targeting specific commodities through the establishment of the four ministries. Over the next term of government, we will give specific production targets for Coffee, Oil Palm and all other major agricultural Commodities” he said. The government also plans to revive and rehabilitate once thriving agricultural hubs in the country such as Cattle farming in the Central Province and the Coffee plantations of the Highlands region that produced quality organic Coffee and grew the fledgling industry pre-independence in the 1960’s. Now that the agricultural sector has been categorized into four industries, there will be room for much improvement in economic activity within the agricultural sector as people will start contributing meaningfully to the economy.
Paul Oeka - September 28, 2022
TREASURER WANTS REVIEW OF ELECTION FUNDS
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey is dismayed at how the 2022 National Elections were conducted and is now looking forward to a complete review of the allocated funds that were spent on the elections. Ling-Stuckey recently stated in parliament that the government had allocated and funded enough money for the election process to be conducted this year. “We provided a further K50 million to cover the costs for the 2022 election, bringing the total funding for the election to nearly double the level of expenditure in the 2017 national elections. There was enough money to support a much better election this year, so I look forward to the proposed parliamentary committee examinations of what went wrong and what can be done better” he said. The Treasurer also expressed concern that there was a decrease in the public servants’ salaries. He explained that “Once again there is a salary cost overrun. This is K201 million much lower than in previous years, and out of this, over 70 percent is related to teacher wage overruns. We contributed to bring this area under control. After no pay increases during the latest part of the Covid-19 crisis, it is now time to start increasing some salary payments”. “There is also the need to provide additional funding for the seven new districts that have been created and K3 million each has been provided. There are also new members in existing electorates, and it is appropriate that they be given some funds for commencing programs through to the end of the year. For equity reasons all districts and provinces needed to benefit the same so an additional 2 million per district and province have been allocated bringing the funding back to 10 million per districts and provinces” he said. Meanwhile there was an announcement on Thursday last week that the Department of personnel management, Treasury and Finance are working together to ensure that there will be a three percent pay increment in the salary of public servants. This pay increment is to be adjusted and effective by December this year, the welcoming news for public servants was confirmed by the Secretary of the Department of Personnel Management, Taies Sansan.
PNG Business News - September 28, 2022
PNG’s minimum wage
Commentary by Stephen Howes, Kingtau Mambon and Kelly Samof The urban minimum wage has been an important part of Papua New Guinea’s economic history. In the last few years before independence (in 1975), it was greatly increased. In the decade or so after independence, it was widely regarded as too high. In 1992, it was slashed, merged with the rural minimum, and hardly increased again for more than a decade. We can compare the minimum wage in PNG today with other Asia and Pacific developing countries using International Labour Organization (ILO) data. As Figure 1 shows, PNG’s minimum wage is 18% below the average of the 19 countries shown if the market exchange rate is used to compare minimum wages. It is 37% below the average if differences in cost of living are also taken into account (with conversions made on the basis not of market exchange rates but so-called purchasing power parities or PPPs). The greater difference in terms of PPPs reflects PNG’s relatively high cost of living. Of the countries shown, only Samoa and Kiribati have a lower minimum wage than PNG when a PPP comparison is made. This is very different to the past. Raymond Goodman, Charles Lepani and David Morawetz in their 1985 report The economy of Papua New Guinea compared minimum wages in PNG with a subset of the countries above back in 1978. Then, the PNG minimum wage was about twice as big or more than the other comparators. Today (using market exchange rates, and the earlier authors do), PNG comes in the middle of the pack, as Figure 2 shows. So far, we have shown that around the time of independence minimum wages were very high in PNG by international standards, and that they no longer are. Figure 3 shows how this change came about – also, for interest, comparing trends in PNG with those in Australia. Both the PNG and Australian weekly minimum wages are shown in Figure 3 measured in Australian dollars. The PNG minimum wage is converted into Australian dollars using the current exchange rate. Both wages are then adjusted for inflation and expressed in 2021 prices. The two series follow diametrically opposed paths. The Australian minimum wage fell with the high inflation of the 1970s and industrial relations reforms of the 1980s, and by the early 1990s was little more than half its value in the 1970s. It then increased in the late 1990s and 2000s during the resource boom, and has continued to increase. Adjusting for inflation, it is now almost back to where it was in the early 1970s. The PNG minimum wage does the opposite. It increased in the 1970s and was then held stable due to indexation, until the big bang reforms of 1992. Adjusted for inflation, PNG’s minimum wage continued to fall until 2004. There have since been some significant increases, but today PNG’s minimum wage is only about one-third of its value at independence, and below its value even in 1972, which is when the steep minimum wage increases began. The Australian minimum wage has always been significantly higher than the PNG one, but the ratio has changed a lot over time. The lowest that ratio has ever been is 2.2 in 1986, the highest 45 in 2004. The gap between the two wages is much higher now than at independence: the ratio of the Australian to the PNG minimum wage was 14.5 in 2021, compared to only 3.2 at independence (1975). This reflects PNG’s 1992 deregulation, and the faster growth in the Australian economy, which has enabled an increase in the Australian minimum wage. The solution to low wages in PNG is not necessarily to increase the minimum. In some sectors, where there is a lot of international competition, a higher minimum wage might lead to job losses. For example, in tuna processing, one of PNG’s main competitors is the Philippines. From Figure 1, we can see that PNG’s minimum wage is lower than the Philippines' on the basis of PPPs, but actually higher on the basis of market exchange rates. While the former is what matters for the welfare of workers, the latter is what matters for international competitiveness. Whether PNG’s minimum wage should be increased will require a lot more analysis. The point of this blog is simply that PNG’s minimum wage does not look high any more by international comparisons, as it has fallen a lot since independence. PNG is often described as a high-cost economy, and this is a fair description. However, with regards to unskilled labour, it is no longer a high-wage economy. Data note: The PNG Economic Database provides the weekly minimum wage of PNG going back to 1972, and the PGK-AUD exchange rate. Wikipedia provides the Australian weekly minimum wage data (hourly and weekly, on the assumption of a 38-hour week) starting from 1966. The Australian CPI is from the Australian aid tracker. There are some years where Australian minimum wage rates change more than once in a year. For such cases, we took the average as annual minimum wage rate. The data for Asia-Pacific comparisons are from the International Labour Organization and the World Bank. The different frequencies of minimum wages for each country in 2019 in the ILO’s report are adjusted to convert to weekly rates. World Bank data is used to obtain market exchange rates and PPP conversion factors. For the Goodman, et al., data go to Table 3.6 on p.61 in their report.\ Disclosure: This research was undertaken with the support of the ANU-UPNG Partnership, an initiative of the PNG-Australia Partnership, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The views are those of the authors only. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, at The Australian National University. Kingtau Mambon is currently undertaking a Master of International and Development Economics at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, for which he was awarded a scholarship through the ANU-UPNG Partnership. Kelly Samof is a lecturer in economics at the School of Business and Public Policy, University of Papua New Guinea.