Progess on Ramu project ‘satisfying’

Business, Main Stories

THE Mineral Resources Development Co Ltd (MRDC) is satisfied with the progress at Ramu nickel and cobalt project in Madang province.
This comes after Imbi Tagune, MRDC’s manager for external affairs, and Joe Taymen, manager technical, expressed satisfaction after visiting Kurumbukari mine site.
The project is being developed by Ramu NiCo (MCC), a Chinese company.
“I am proud as a Papua New Guinean to see a project of this magnitude in our country.
“MCC has made significant commitments to develop a resource that was left untouched for many years since exploration … to have MCC develop these resources is an opportunity to PNG,” Mr Tagune said.
“Our perception relating to resource project development has always been with the western companies from Australia, USA, Canada, and Europe.”
Mr Tagune said this engagement with Chinese was a complete shift from the norm.
“Ramu NiCo MCC is clearly an organisation prepared to take on and overcome the toughest of challenges,” he said.
When the cost of taking the product to market is high, then it must be a significant commitment to spend such huge money and make it work, Mr Tagune said. 
“Compared with gold and copper, nickel is known to be much more difficult to develop … the terrain and geography also presents logistic, construction and operational issues.”
Mr Tagune and Mr Taymen said they were surprised by a large scale infrastructure construction within a short period of time.
Meanwhile, Mr Taymen revealed that MRDC, on behalf of the landowners and PNG Government, manages their interests in Ramu project.
“At present MRDC has equity of 6.44% in the project as the nominees of both the PNG State and project landowners,” he said.
Mr Taymen said after the repayment of the bank loan, the current interest would  increase to 8.7%.
“We also have an option to further increase the equity to 14.45% … we all landowners and Governments need to support the project.”
The other stakeholder in the project is Highlands Pacific, with an 8.56 % at present which will increase to 11.3% after loan repayment.
The company has an option to increase to 20.55% at fair market value.
Also, it conducted initial exploration work and undertook the feasibility study to get the project started.