Barrick to challenge Porgera transfer to Kumul

Barrick Niugini says last week’s grant of the Porgera special mining lease to state company Kumul Minerals Holdings is unlawful and invalid – and will take steps to challenge it.

Staff reporter
 PNG PM James Marape

PNG PM James Marape

However Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape hit back yesterday, saying the country was not "a banana republic", they wanted to open the mine "at the earliest" and it was up to Barrick to get on a plane and discuss how they could remain in PNG under KMHL's lease.

Barrick Niugini said the Register of Mining Tenements recorded that the Head of State purportedly granted SML 11 - which covers 2135ha of land at Porgera - to Kumul on August 25 for a period of 20 years.

"Barrick Niugini [BNL] considers that any such grant of SML 11 to Kumul is unlawful and invalid," the company said in a statement posted to Facebook on Thursday evening.

"BNL will take steps to challenge the purported grant of SML 11."

One of the more polite comments in a common theme posted underneath was "Barrick, please pack up and leave".

BNL noted the government had not conducted discussions with landowners prior to granting the SML, nor was a warden's hearing conducted, and said the move set a precedent of the state "disenfranchising landowners" and making decisions without listening to their views.

Marape said yesterday if Barrick wanted to "be still at Pogera [sic], then it is now up to them to meet KMHL to discuss how they could remain in Pogera under KMHL's SML."

"Our country is not a banana republic or dictatorship but run by dictates of public policy and regulations and laws," he said.

"Hence MRA in their independence and free will progressed new SML applications and on record both KMHL and BNL applied and decision was made in favor of KMHL."

He said KMHL would call the 24 clans and Enga provincial government on the structure of the joint venture for Porgera going forward.

He also said the option of "equity plus operatorship" was on the table, subject to negotiations.

BNL had shuttered Porgera earlier this year after PNG rejected its 2017 application to extend the SML by 20 years.

The mine operator is seeking a resolution through the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes after declaring a dispute in July

Barrick and Zijin Mining each own 47.5% of Porgera, with the remaining 5% interest held by Mineral Resources Enga, a vehicle owned equally by the Porgera SML landowners and the Enga provincial government.

Barrick had expected its share of Porgera's output to be 240,000-270,000 ounces of gold this year but has since withdrawn guidance.

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