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Deeper collaboration key to future of PNG's resources sector

CALLS for collaboration and greater partnerships to address concerns in the resource industry were the order of the 27th PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference and Trade Expo.

The renewed calls were made by both Government and resource sector representatives over the three day conference from December 3-5 at the Stanley Hotel & Suites. Rightfully so, with the event themed ‘PNG Resources: Developing Shared Value’ by the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum.

A local landowner from Hides in the Southern Highlands also shared these sentiments when he questioned why landowners were the last to receive benefits and challenged the industry to work together to address pertinent issues.

Speakers and participants acknowledged the difficult global economic conditions that are also impacting this resource rich developing South Pacific nation, which is also going through tough economic challenges, having recently delivered a supplementary budget and in December passed its largest ever deficit budget – that saw it having to amend its laws to revise the deficit limit upward from 35% to 45%, thus ensuring Parliament was within legal thresholds.

Giving the Opening remarks, President of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Gerea Aopi, after welcoming Prime Minister James Marape to his first conference as PM said over the years, the conference had been and continues to portray PNG’s vibrant and strong resource sector.

“The conference has provided a platform for industry-to-government dialogue on key aspects of the sector while more importantly, marketing PNG as a sound investment destination,” Aopi said.

The event attracted well over 900 delegates, not just from PNG but also from the region including Australia, United States, Japan, China and first time participant Timor Leste.

PM Marape during his keynote opening remarks assured key stakeholders of the Government’s commitment to consult with the industry on review of major resource laws including the Oil & Gas Act and the Mining Act of 1992.

The PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum welcomed the announcement and in a statement said: “The industry is well aware of the financial challenges PNG is going through and we are happy that the Prime Minister has indicated his Government’s willingness to work with the resource sector to re-ignite PNG’s economic growth.”

It said it is ready to engage and support the Government grow PNG’s economy whilst ensuring the country, its people, and industry investors receive a fair share from its mineral and petroleum resources.

Critical to this partnership will be the need for the country to maintain a stable fiscal and regulatory environment that will attract genuine investors who can bring in the much-needed capital.

Mr Marape’s commitment to collaborate was further reaffirmed by the Mining Minister Johnson Tuke who invited all mining companies to work with the Government to ensure all stakeholders receive their fair share of the resource wealth.

Minister Tuke outlined six key areas he wanted to work with the industry on including mineral ownership, repository of production data at the Mineral Resources Authority, social levy on operating cost of mining companies, downstream processing, gold bullion bank, and local content.

The PM had ended his speech with a challenge to investors and resource developers and explorers to not leave behind the landowners and the nine million plus people of Papua New Guinea, which he represents.

The conference ended with Senior Vice President Anthony Smare giving thought provoking closing remarks on the theme of ‘developing shared value’ after a passionate statement by the Hela landowner who questioned why resource developers and government benefit first and the resource owners last.

The Chamber said the resources industry plays an invaluable role in supporting the PNG economy while helping in improving lives of Papua New Guineans through job creation and community investments.

According to the ADB’s Asian Development Bank Outlook 2019 Report, figures revealed PNG government revenue increased by over 16 per cent last year due to improved tax compliance and higher collections of mining and petroleum taxes and dividends.

Collaboration is vital now more than ever to attract new exploration and ensure new resource projects currently undergoing sensitive discussions, including Papua LNG and the Wafi-Golpu project get off the ground to help underpin PNG’s ambitious development targets by 2030.

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