K20 million stacked away for LOs: Barrick
A total of K20 million in royalties for landowners of Porgera gold mine in Enga Province are withheld as a result of ongoing legacy issues.
Barrick president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow said this money was supposed to be paid to landowners, however, with the ongoing legacy issues among the people; the State through the Mineral Resources Authority has held back this money until such time when it sees fit to release it.
Mr Bristow said as the company operating one of PNG’s largest gold mines, they recognise some of the legacy issues that are needed to be dealt with, however, will need partnerships from both the national and the provincial governments.
He said the most important one now is the relocation of impacted communities, however, acknowledged that it remains a difficult task in PNG to find land and access to land for relocation purposes. As a result, it is in the hands of the State and the provincial government to work with Barrick to find solutions to the issue of relocation, he said.
Mr Bristow said the environment is always an emotional thing as miners are always going to impact the environment.
He said they are currently researching for ways to reduce environmental damage for the people of Porgera.
“Those are the two key legacy issues… we should be doing that together with the government because if we want to actively exploit PNG natural resources we got to do it in a proper and responsible way so we believe that we will be able to pioneer that going forward,” he said.
Mr Bristow said other issues include outstanding royalty monies which are locked away because of landowner disputes.
“We have paid all compensations that we should pay under the contract and there is nothing outstanding.”
The landowner dispute in Porgera has created a crisis.
As a result a substantial amount of money has been locked up and not getting to the people so many of them are disturbed by the fact they haven’t received their benefits so that’s another legacy not necessarily Porgera’s making but it’s something that we have agreed with various government officials we consulted that we need to work better at,” Mr Bristow said.