Barrick initiates international proceedings over Porgera

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In its latest step to maintain its position as operator of the Porgera gold mine, Barrick (Niugini) is taking its dispute with Papua New Guinea to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Local landowners occupying the Porgera mine site last week. Credit: supplied

The miner, whose application to extend its special mining lease (SML) over the Porgera mine in Enga Province was rejected by the government back in April, has announced it has initiated conciliation proceedings before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to settle its dispute.

Barrick’s joint venture partner, China’s Zijin Mining Group, will also be party to the proceedings.

‘By this conciliation BNL seeks to reach an agreement for extension of the Porgera SML on terms that will be mutually beneficial to the company and to all PNG stakeholders,’ said a Barrick (Niugini) statement issued last week.

The company is currently seeking a ruling from Papua New Guinea’s National Court to reverse the government’s decision. It has stated that the ICSID proceeding ‘is not intended to, nor can it, displace the judicial review,’ which is ongoing.

Landowner claim

The National Court case is not the only legal dispute surrounding the contentious mine.

The Tuanda Incorporated Land Group (ILG), which represents one of seven landowner groups that cover the Porgera mine area, has lodged an K8 billion claim against the mine operator for environmental damage, loss of livelihood and rights, and loss of alluvial mining business.

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Tuanda ILG Chairman, So-le Taro, last week called on the government not to issue a new license for the mine until existing issues are settled.

Barrick (Niugini) has said it will contest the claim.

Waiting in the wings

Meanwhile, Peter Graham, Chairman of Kumul Minerals Holdings, has confirmed the state-owned mining company will hold ‘any interest that the State may acquire in the Porgera mine and the proposed Wafi-Golpu project.’

He told The National newspaper that recent amendments to Papua New Guinea’s Mining Act opened opportunities for a broader role for the company.

Following a restructure, ‘the company is now positioned to acquire and manage investments in mining assets on behalf of the State,’ he said.

Comments

  1. The “lease agreement has expired” .
    During the 30 year lease period, the mine developer and the PNG government have both benefited from that commercial agreement.

    As is the case with any lease agreements the world over, now that lease agreement had expired. C est la vie.

    The Papua New Guinea national government solely has the discretion and the right to either extend the lease agreement or cancel it. The decision has been made to cancel or deny any possibilities for any lease extension.

    This is not a complicated legal argument for the developer to insist that, what the PNG national government did is wrong.

    Any novice observer who has any inkling or iota of the tenets of lease contractual agreements knows that the landlord is not interested in taking rental payments anymore.

    So, it’s plain and simple. The tenant has no grounds for making unnecessary noises but peacefully vacate the premises.

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