While Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the ‘marriage’ between the two owners of the Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province is over, the method of divorce remains a mystery for the time being.
Speaking at the weekend, the Prime Minister clarified comments previously reported in the local press that had suggested that the mine’s requested extension would not go ahead.
‘There is no divorce with OK Tedi. OK Tedi is in PNG and we will continue our engagement with them,’ he told reporters in Port Moresby on Sunday. ‘I said the partnership between the owners of OK Tedi—that is the PNG Government and the PNGSDP [Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program Ltd]—that partnership will not continue.’
PNGSDP owns 63.4% of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd, with the remainder owned by the State of Papua New Guinea.
O’Neill is reported as saying ‘by 1st January 2014, if the mine life is extended, the OK Tedi mine will be managed under a new structure.’
The Prime Minister did not state what that structure might be, nor how it would be achieved.
The PM’s continued campaign against PNGSDP (Chairman Ross Garnaut was barred from the country before Christmas and subsequently resigned) has been widely reported in neighbouring Australia. The pending mine licence renewal, essential for the mine’s ongoing production, appears to be being used as leverage to negotiate a new relationship with PNGSDP.
While PNGSDP has yet to issue any comment on the Prime Minister’s words, Ok Tedi Mining issued this brief statement last week:
‘The Ok Tedi Mining Limited Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Nigel Parker, is aware of the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament today regarding the Ok Tedi Mine Life Extension but is unable to make further comment at this point in time as it is a matter concerning the State of Papua New Guinea and PNG Sustainable Development Program Limited, as the shareholders of Ok Tedi Mining Limited.’