Chan: Aust mining investment secure

Business, Normal

The National – Tuesday 11th October, 2011

MINING minister Byron Chan has reassured his Australian counterpart Martin Ferguson that Australia’s investment in the mining sector in PNG will not be deterred by the proposed amendments to the mining act.
Chan, who was accompanied by MRA acting managing director Kepas Wali and first secretary Gaius Toali­gur, met with Ferguson, Australia’s minister for Resources and Energy in Melbourne last Friday after returning from a mining conference in Accra, Ghana where he (Chan) briefed him of the current mining review and other policy issues the government will undertake.
“I assured the Federal Minister on Australia’s huge investment in PNG’s mining sector that there is no immediate changes to the act to give ownership back to landowners. Currently, the State owns the resources,” Chan said.
He told Ferguson that the decision to make the amendment to the 1992 Mining Act was only political but he made an undertaking to immediately set up a special committee to look into the changes.
“I cannot change the policy overnight with PNG already having multi-billion kina companies operating in the extractive industry.
“Anything to change will be drastic and a big blow to the economy.
“However, my immediate agenda now is to look into the Mining Act and amend certain provisions after consultation with all stakeholders so that landowners, government and investors equally benefit,” he said.
Chan noted that he would be pushing for a policy to be in place within the proposed mining act for the creation of an environment protection and rehabilitation fund.
“The fund will assist mining areas and increase benefit for landowners and provincial governments where mining operations are currently in progress,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ferguson thanked Chan and said the meeting was a step forward for the two countries and paved the way for the upcoming Australia – PNG bilateral ministerial forum in Canberra this week.