By KARO JESSE
PORGERA gold mine operator Barrick Niugini Ltd (BNL) and the State have not come up with any resolutions regarding resolving issues arising from the transition period following the Government’s refusal to extend the miner’s special mining lease.
These were directives given by the National Court on April 30, after the miner took the matter to court seeking a judicial review of the Government’s decision.
Barrick and the State were given directives by the court to cooperate to collectively address the situation under the clause 19.1 (d) and (e) of the Mining Development Contract which was signed in May 12, 1989.
Section 19 allows the Porgera Joint Venture to remain in mine for a one-year period following expiry date to remove and recover assets and equipment including explosives, and to ensure that the mine area is safe and in a stable condition, having regards to natural conditions as well.
Deputy Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi on Friday told both parties that environment conditions of the mine was a priority.
Barrick lawyer Dereck Wood of Ashurst Lawyers, informed the court that no resolutions were made prior to court directives during meetings convened last Monday and Tuesday between the parties.
Wood asked the court to allow both parties to have further discussion on the matter.
State lawyer Tauvasa Tanuvasa told the court that this was due to BNL insisting on reopening of the mine during the meetings and not adhering to discussion on matters of transition period.
Tanuvasa informed the court that the mine was not in good condition following a report obtained from PNG Chief Inspector of Mines Lave Michael.
Michael reported that there was an overflow of water in the mine’s centre pit due to the stop of operations and this was hazardous to the environment which could cause the underground mine to collapse. The report prompted Michael to write to the miner to address the situation.
Justice Kandakasi told both parties not to issue directives to each other but cooperate to address the situation to avoid prejudice.
The court was also informed that there were no regular inspections on mine and the environment.
Tanuvasa explained that the State was ready to comply with its obligation under Clause 19.1 (c) and the decision by the National Executive Council (NEC) for the refusal of the Special Mining Lease was gazetted.
The court will be forced to use its powers under the section 57 of Constitution if no resolutions were made.
Parties will return today to present their resolutions to the court.
By KARO JESSE