By PETER ESILA
ENGA Governor Sir Peter Ipatas says the Porgera mine special mining lease (SML) held by operator Barrick must be not be renewed when it expires in August.
Sir Peter said yesterday that everything must be renegotiated.
“We have to learn from the lessons of Ok Tedi,” he said.
“The Ok Tedi mine is 100 per cent owned by the country, the State and the people of this country.”
Sir Peter said Porgera must be looked at in a similar manner.
“What will stop us from doing that? The people of this country cannot continue to be spectators.
“That is the bottom line.
“We have a five per cent equity in the project: 2.5 per cent held by the provincial government and 2.5 per cent by the SML landowners.
“We have 30 years of experience in the mine. Going forward, this will not be like 1989 when we were not experienced with the mine in our province. At the same time (1989), we didn’t have the experience to negotiate certain terms of the mine agreement. Today, we are better placed.
“I want to make a call on the operator, Barrick, and the State to understand that when the SML expires, we are not going to negotiate a renewal.
“This is going to be a new negotiation. We have been patient for 30 years. The operators and the State must understand that we (Engans), as a people, must be given that opportunity (to renegotiate).”
Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), in June 2017, received an application from Barrick seeking an extension of the SML for another 20 years.
The current SML was granted on Aug 17, 1989, and will expire on
Sir Peter said there was no point in a warden hearing in Porgera today, when the SML was coming to an end. The hearing was announced by MRA. “As far as I am concerned, and my government is concerned, the SML is coming to an end,” Sir Peter said.
“There is no common sense in taking about exploration licences.
“The main thing is to discuss the end of the SML and the way forward. I want to call on State agencies to respect the people of this country.
“For too long, we have been trying to entertain interests of outsiders.”
By PETER ESILA