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."

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