Porgera Mine Update: Transfer of Licenses Marks Key Milestone in Reopening Process
by PNG Business News - April 24, 2023
Photo: Porgera Mine
Kumul Mineral Holdings Limited (KMHL), Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL), and the New Porgera Limited (NPL) signing two crucial documents on Friday marks a significant step towards reopening the Porgera mine. The Porgera mine, located in Enga Province of Papua New Guinea, was closed down in April 2020 after the government refused to extend Barrick’s lease for another 20 years. Since then, the parties have been negotiating the terms of reopening the mine.
The documents signed by the parties include the DEED of transfer for the Exploration license (EL) 454 and the DEED of transfer for the Special Mining Lease (SML) 11 and ancillary tenements. The signing ceremony took place in Port Moresby and was attended by KMHL board of directors and BNL Country Manager and Adviser.
Dr Ila Temu, the KMHL Chairman, explained that the SML 11 license that Kumul Mineral holds needed to be surrendered, hence the signing of the transfer to the New Porgera Limited. Dr Temu stated, "The parties have agreed that SML 11 has to be surrendered, and a new SML applied for."
He further explained that the exploration license 454, which had the Porgera license issued on it, belongs to Barrick Niugini Limited, and they have decided to transfer it to New Porgera Limited as part of the consolidation. Once New Porgera Limited receives the exploration license, it will apply for a new SML after surrendering SML 11.
The Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) is now processing the two transfers, and Dr Temu said they have given urgency for the application to be processed within the next two months, hoping that the new SML will be issued within this period.
"The rest of the agreements like the Mining Development contract need to be signed off after the SML is issued and the environment transferred. This is because the environment permit was issued to all SML so it had to be transferred from the old SML to the new SML that will be issued. That should complete the process, and I think it is going to take us a balance of this first part of the year, including quarter 1, 2, and maybe quarter 3," he added.
The reopening of the Porgera mine is significant for Papua New Guinea as it is the second-largest mine in the country, producing around 600,000 ounces of gold and 600,000 ounces of silver per annum. The mine's reopening will generate employment opportunities and contribute to the country's economic growth. It will also bring relief to the local community, which has been severely affected by the mine's closure.
BNL Country Manager and Adviser, Tony Esplin, expressed his satisfaction with the progress made towards reopening the mine. He said, "We are very pleased to have reached this important milestone in the process of reopening the Porgera mine. We look forward to continuing our work with our partners to bring the mine back into operation."
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 - June 05, 2023
PNG PM Marape Participates in PIF Leaders Breakfast Caucas
Photo: PNG PM Marape Participates in PIF Leaders Breakfast Caucas Prior to the Korean-Pacific Islands Leaders (Kor-Pic) Meeting, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Marape joined other PIC Leaders for a breakfast caucus Chaired by Cook Islands Prime Minister and current Pacific Islands Forum Chair Mark Brown, to discuss the agenda and a common position on shared development issues. Prime Minister Marape said climate variation, being the perennial issue including sourcing appropriate development assistance from the Korean Government was high on the agenda. He said the encouragement during the caucus was for all PIC Leaders to discuss their developmental challenges and put forward their ideas on how Korean Development assistance could complement the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy. Following this caucus, Prime Minister Marape, met with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. Their discussions were centered around progress of the proposed Bilateral Security Treaty (BST), the recently concluded Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, Visa issues and the PNG NRL Bid. On the BST, Prime Minister Marape mentioned that it was work in progress and required the PNG side to consult our domestic processes and sovereign laws in relation to certain wordings and provisions. He also conveyed his apologies to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for the delay in formalising this proposed Treaty with Australia. For the DCA with the US, Prime Minister Marape informed that it was centered around improving the PNGDF's capabilities and interoperability including protecting our frontiers and sovereignty. He said it was non-discriminatory and PNG was open to entering into similar arrangements with its bilateral partners. “In fact, the DCA would also complement domestic law enforcement,” Prime Minister Marape said. “The Ship Rider Agreement on the other hand was also vital in combating illegal fishing and transnational crimes.” For Visa issues, Deputy Prime Minister Marles informed that the current Australian Government was fully aware of the situation and following the Ministerial Forum in February this year in Canberra, had established a Joint Ministerial Team to work on bringing the Australian visa processing facility back on shore to PNG. Prime Minister Marape in his response said that all processes from both sides had to be attended to in order for smooth facilitation and for citizens and businesses to continue without much hindrance now and heading into 2050 when PNG celebrates 50 years of nationhood. On Papua New Guinea’s NRL Bid, Prime Minister Marape explained that PNG was still very keen as rugby league was a major unifying factor, bringing our 800 tribes together as one people. In closing Prime Minister Marape assured Deputy Prime Minister Marles that PNG in no way would compromise its excellent existing bilateral relations with Australia and further stressed that PNG was capable of managing its sovereign affairs on its terms, systems and processes.
PNG Business News - June 05, 2023
ADB Helps Launch Vocational Education Project in PNG
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) today launched a cofinanced project to improve the country’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) program. PNG's Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso delivered a keynote address at the launch event at Port Moresby Technical College. PNG’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, and Sports Don Polye, ADB Country Director for Papua New Guinea David Hill, and Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Paul Lehmann all spoke at the event. The Improved Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Employment Project financed by ADB and the governments of Australia and PNG will strengthen the country’s TVET program and help prepare students to be more competitive and responsive to employment and industry demands. “We hope this project will become a model for all vocational education and skills training in TVET colleges in the country,” said Mr. Rosso. “The beneficiaries of this project—young, skilled workers, including women and men—represent PNG’s future, and through this project, the future of vocational education in PNG looks bright.” This project aims to boost the numbers of skilled workers in the construction and agriculture sectors where demand is high. “We will work with our partners to help advance reforms in the vocational education and skills training space in PNG,” said Mr.Hill. “These sought-after skills in priority sectors will help grow PNG’s economy.” The TVET sector of PNG’s education system comprises public, religious, or private institutions, including technical and business colleges offering postsecondary courses and vocational training. “The Australian government is pleased to be supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea to achieve its reform goals in technical and vocational education and training to increase the number and quality of skilled workers,” said Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Paul Lehmann. “My vision for the TVET for Employment Project is that it will perform as an innovation and technology business incubator across PNG,” said Mr. Polye. “The project is the embodiment of a new approach—building a culture of quality education and innovation in a renewed and revitalized TVET sector.” The Improved Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Employment Project is funded through a $50 million concessional loan from ADB and a $10.6 million grant from Australia. The Government of PNG is also contributing $5.7 million. ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.
PNG Business News - June 05, 2023
PNG Forges an Innovation-fueled Partnership with South Korea in Digital Transformation
Papua New Guinea was amongst seven other Pacific Island countries to sign a partnership statement of intent with the Republic of Korea to further cooperation and partnership in digital transformation. Information and Communications Technology Minister Timothy Masiu, who also was appointed co- chair of the just concluded Korea -Pacific Islands Digital Ministerial Conference in Seoul, South Korea, signed the statement together with the meeting chairman Korean Minister for Science and ICT Dr Lee Jong-Ho. The others who signed the partnership intent are Tonga, Nauru, Samoa, Palau, Cook Islands and Kiribati. Australia and the World Bank also attended the meeting as supporting partners. The Statement of Intent states; The partnership recognize digitalization has transformed not only daily lives but also shapes innovation in all sectors including politics, economy, society, culture and environment. Recognize and note that digital technology offers great potential to address various social economic challenges that come with rapid transformation of society. Agree on continued partnership in digital transformation inclusive of sustainable development will be the key to future prosperity of the people of Korea and the pacific. Agree on sharing digital vision of policies will pave way for strong partnership to digital co-prosperity. Mr Masiu expressed deep satisfaction that Korea , the global leading innovation country, has agreed to partner with Pacific countries including Papua New Guinea in digital transformation that will greatly enhance communication in a vast area like the Pacific and more so, strengthen supporting technology to better access to health, education and business. He told the conference that Papua New Guinea has begun the digital transformation with Parliament passing the Digital Government Act 2022 and relevant policies, and welcomed the partnership with the Republic of Korea, which he says, will go a long way in progressing the digital transformation agenda for PNG and the region. Mr Masiu had bilateral meeting with his South Korean counterpart, further seeking a stronger country to country relations in digital transformation and support to the National Broadcasting Corporation proposing a partnership between the NBC and the Korean Broadcasting Services. The Minister has formally invited the Korean Minister for Science and ICT to visit Papua New Guinea for the Pacific ICT meeting in August 2023 or to accompany the South Korean President who has been invited by Prime Minister James Marape to visit PNG. Mr Marape was in Seoul also this week for the Korea- Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting. Minister Dr Lee Jong-Ho acknowledges the leadership of Papua New Guinea in digital transformation and reaffirmed its support to PNG and the other Pacific Island countries.