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Barrick Nuigini rejects tax allegations

Porgera mine operator Barrick Nuigini (BNL) has hit back at tax allegations made by Papua New Guinea treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey on the weekend.
Barrick Nuigini rejects tax allegations Barrick Nuigini rejects tax allegations Barrick Nuigini rejects tax allegations Barrick Nuigini rejects tax allegations Barrick Nuigini rejects tax allegations

The Barrick Nuigini-operated Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea remains closed

Staff reporter

The company said it "rejects any insinuation that 2019 tax payments by Barrick Niugini Limited have been manipulated to coincide with the timing of processes relating to BNL's application to extend the Porgera Special Mining Lease".

BNL referred to a statement Ling-Stuckey had issued in March, when he welcomed the company's initiative to pay tax in advance to help the government's fiscal situation as it was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and had urged others to follow its example.

"I commend Barrick Niugini Limited for contributing K59.3 million (US$16.9 million) to the national government as a forward payment of its taxes…" he had said at the time.

The company noted it had applied to extend Porgera's SML in June 2017, more than two years prior to the end of the 2019 tax year.

"BNL notes that it has always administered its financial affairs - including the calculation of its tax obligations - in accordance with the laws of Papua New Guinea," it said.

"Any assertion to the contrary is incorrect."

It said Porgera had made significant financial contributions to PNG's economy since mining began in 1991, in the form of tax and royalty payments, national contracts, employments and infrastructure developments.

"Over the life of the mine to date, these contributions have totalled approximately K13.2 billion (US$3.8 billion) in unadjusted terms - representing a value of approximately K26.6 billion at 2019 prices, and equal to approximately 40.9% of total export values arising from the mine," BNL said.

Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow has recently been in talks with PNG prime minister James Marape about restarting Porgera, which was shuttered in April when the mine's SML renewal was refused.

Marape has also been under political pressure but had a win last week when PNG's Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge over his election 18 months ago.

"For now my government is secured, we will deal with these round of politics through the court and parliament," Marape said on Facebook yesterday.

Porgera is owned 47.5% by both Barrick and Zijin Mining, with the remaining 5% held by the Enga provincial government and landowners.

The mine produced 284,000 ounces of gold for Barrick last year and shares in the Canada-based company closed up 3.5% yesterday to C$30.86 to capitalise it about $55 billion (US$42 billion).