THE current issues of the Porgera gold mine stem from a number of factors, the main ones being the mine’s operation, benefits and environmental damages.
The mine’s operations, since its beginning in 1989 has gone through a series of acquisitions, resulting in the Government losing its 30 per cent equity interest in the mine required by the Mining Act 1992.
It means the Government lost interest and control of the mine.
That allowed Barrick Niugini Ltd and its partners freedom to operate the mine on their own terms.
The mine’s operation is subject to the expiry of its special mining lease, which is a requirement under the Mining Act.
The takeover of the mine by the Kumul Mineral Holdings Ltd is in accordance with the amendments to the Act.
The ammendment aims to help the Government and landowners secure more benefits from the mine.
The monetary and non-monetary benefits from the mine is another major ongoing issue.
As for non-monetary benefits, the mine is in its operating phase and it is not likely to contribute much in terms of direct business spin-offs and employment.
As for monetary benefits, it is a issue in terms of taxes to the Government and foreign exchange for the economy.
The operations has resulted in a significant loss of tax revenues and foreign exchange to PNG.
The beneficiary of this loss is Barrick Niugini Ltd and its owners overseas.
The loss of taxes and foreign exchange to PNG has been compounded by the environmental damages caused by the mine’s operation.
Barrick cannot claim immunity from the environmental damages because it is one thing to be in compliance with the law while environmental damage is a different thing.
Environmental damage happens irrespective of whether one is complying with the law or not.
This is the dilemma the mining company is now faced with.
The court proceedings instituted by the landowners on the takeover of the mine by the State is a surprise and a misguided move.
The persons behind this move are either Barrick or some MPs for their own interests. The move is intended to cloud and confuse the State of its legitimate takeover of the mine.