By SHEILA LASIBORI
LIHIR Gold Ltd’s (LGL) series of mine acquisitions overseas did not sit well with the people of New Ireland province, home to one of the world’s leading gold producers.
And the province’s governor, Sir Julius Chan, did not mince word in expressing his dismay over the miner’s failure to bring noteworthy investment to his province.
Sir Julius has claimed his people have been denied tax credit-associated projects.
He called on the company to refrain from using its earnings from Lihir mines to fund overseas investments, particularly acquisitions of new gold mines overseas.
Among LGL’s overseas acquisitions are the Ballarat mine in Australia and the Cote d’Ivoire mine in West Africa.
“I am sad to say that Lihir has not made a profit for 15 years, and therefore, has not contributed any company tax at all to the nation … because of this, New Ireland has missed out on projects based on tax credits.
“What is important to us is that we have to make sure they do not invest in projects that are likely to deplete its profits from Lihir gold mines,” Sir Julius said.
On the other hand, Sir Julius also acknowledged LGL’s chief executive officer Arthur Hood for his management of the mine during his term.
“The newspapers painted the successful stories of the last four years during his watch … yes, certainly, we are very lucky to have Lihir continuing to contribute substantial money to the national purse … so in a way, we should thank Arthur Hood for managing us through that period,” he said.
Sir Julius was particularly concerned that although gold price per ounce has been steadily rising over the years, LGL is yet to make a profit and thus, pay income tax to the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC).
Sir Julius also called for LGL to start thinking about establishing its head office in New Ireland province since Lihir mine is one of the biggest gold producers in the world.
“Whether they like it or not, I am looking at Kavieng as the headquarters … the board under Professor Ross Garnaut also needs to change its thinking.
“They need to pump in a lot of projects based on long-term sustainability so that we can readjust our people when the mine is gone,” Sir Julius said.