By KARO JESSE
DEPUTY Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi on Tuesday withheld his decision on an application for discovery of documents filed by operator of Porgera gold mine Barrick Niugini Ltd (BNL), thus directing the parties to file further submissions in relation to the application for discovery of documents.
The court is trying to assess whether citizenship status of BNL is necessary in determining the application for discovery before it can make a final ruling on the application.
BNL had filed the application in the National Court seeking discovery of documents which the State used in its decision to refuse the miner’s Special Mining Lease (SML).
BNL’s lawyer Derek Wood told the court that the documents were needed by the miner for its judicial review of the State’s decision.
“It does not matter whether citizen or non-citizen, the point is my client (miner) is affected by the decision so we are requesting the release of the documents which the State claim as confidential” he said.
Wood further informed the court that the grasp of the documents which the miner was seeking to be assisted with were mentioned in three filed affidavits in support in NEC’s submission.
He asked the court if the State, with its authorities, could assist with the release of the actual documents for the judicial review sought.
“The defendants have served the miner information through the filed affidavits, so BNL have served notice to defendants of what information it sought for review,” he said.
“BNL is registered under the Company Act and has the power to sue of be sued.”
However, the lawyer for NEC maintained his stance, claiming that the documents requested by BNL were confidential in nature.
He explained that the case was not like any other pure political decision made by NEC, that’s why it had to take into account the capacity of the miner which was also questionable.
NEC lawyer and Solicitor-General Tauvasa Tanuvasa argued that BNL was seeking two broad documents privileged and confidential which were NEC-related documents and non- NEC-related documents like documents produce or held by Mineral Resources Authority or the Mining Advisory Council.
Tanuvasa informed the court that the documents which BNL sought were beyond the jurisdiction of the court by law.
Justice Kandakasi will make a ruling on application tomorrow after parties submit their final submission regarding the application for discovery.
By KARO JESSE