Court challenge: Marape forced to rethink Porgera decision by courts


The decision by the Marape-Steven government not to extend the Special Mining Lease on the Porgera gold mine is headed for the courts after the National Court of Justice at Waigani ordered both parties to have discussions to resolve the matter.

Porgera gold mine. Credit: Zijin Mining

Further to the Marape government’s decision not to renew the special mining lease for the Porgera gold mine, legal proceeding are now under way, following an application to Papua New Guinea’s National Court by the mine’s operator, Barrick (Niugini) Limited.

A statement by the Waigani court ordered both the National Government and Barrick (Niugini) Limited (BNL) to work together to ‘ensure that the environment, the integrity of the mine and its land and the rights and interests of the landowners’ are not compromised.’

The statement adds that if the parties cannot reach an agreement by this Friday 8 May, the court will appoint an Accredited Mediator ‘to act as an independent facilitator for their further discussions and negotiations.’ It also called for media and social media outlets to ‘refrain from commenting on this matter’.

In response, BNL released a statement welcoming the court decision.

‘The Court has also ordered that the current status of the mine remain in place, with the developer continuing to maintain the mine infrastructure and assets,’ the statement says.

‘It will undoubtedly impact future investment decisions in PNG – not just within the petroleum and mining industry.’

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Zijin Mining, the Chinese company that has a 47.5 per cent stake in the Porgera mine, had already written to Prime Minister James Marape expressing its concerns.

‘If Zijin’s investment in Porgera mine is not properly protected by the PNG government, I am afraid there will be significant negative impact on the bilateral relations between China and PNG,’ Chen Jinghe, Chairman of Zijin’s board, said in the letter.


Zijin Mining’s Jianhua Wang, with Barrick Niugini’s Ila Temu in 2015.

Meanwhile, the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum has expressed concern at the potential impacts of the decision on the PNG economy and international investor confidence in PNG.

‘The Chamber of Mines and Petroleum is firmly of the belief that optimal outcomes for PNG’s national development will come about when the National Government and investors work together to attract capital and bring expertise, training and employment into the resources sector, whilst ensuring a fair return for all parties and helping build a resilient and diverse PNG economic base,’ a Chamber of Mines statement says.

The Chamber of Mines statement says the decision not to renew the Porgera license will have ‘long-term ramifications in terms of global investor confidence’ and threatens the future of the mining industry, which, it says, ‘still has huge potential to continue providing benefits to PNG government and citizens and the country’ in the future.

‘It will undoubtedly impact future investment decisions in PNG – not just within the petroleum and mining industry.

‘In these difficult economic times, PNG needs to remain an attractive investment destination to ensure the PNG economy continues to grow, and prosper and provide opportunities for landowners and citizens, while maintaining the ability to service the nation’s greatly increased public debt burden.’


  1. Our Laws are all out of date. Cut and paste with no wide consultation. Still have the remnants of neo-colonialism, suppression and oppression. Hidden traits of modern slavery. Geared towards the benefit of foreign interests and not customized to the Papua New Guinean way of doing things and does not have 80% benefit for all Papua New Guineans in a game that is played on an uneven level in the field

  2. Jason Voss says

    Let’s protect investor confidence in PNG. Good call by the courts. That’s take back PNG in a win-win scenario

  3. Paul Macquel says

    At this point in time, BNL is correct by going to court. Because the mine lease has not expired yet. Under the current mining Act, BNL is identified operator. Until the current mining Act is repealed, and benefit sharing is clearly defined, meaning mining ammended Act 2020, if any, must be passed in parliament, to achieve equal participation in mining sector, BNL has the right to go to court. The PM has made his intentions known, if we are serious about taking back PNG, then the constitutional amendment stake holders must act quickly to ensure we abide by law under the new Act.

  4. PNG government don’t let yourself being bullied by China, protect your resources.
    Don’t renew lease, the world is an ever changing place.
    And will never be the same again.
    Same counts for Australia.
    The time of sweet cookies backing and shoulder rubbing is over.
    Everything has consequences.
    And there is a risk in everything we do, the one who does nothing is risking more.
    God bless.

  5. Diapen says

    PM it is very sad to see a stranger in our garden who thinks he knows everything. Maintain your Stand. Judiciary must not take sides with Your wantoks LO of Porgera.

  6. Jordan wak says

    Our best interest for this country is in motion. We are not afraid of you international giants this is our land recourse this is our Nation. Come to good terms or pack up and leave!

  7. Norman Uve says

    I want the government to renegotiate with BNL and increase PNG eqiutty to 60% and management remain with BNL.Becoz
    1. BNL intention to give 50% equity. earlier.
    2. PNG lack proper management on state entities due to political interference
    3. BNL has made more than enough profit over time..

  8. Rabunaf Levi says

    The Prime Minister has decided in the best interest of the State and in compliance with the Acts of Parliament to not renew the SML with Barrick which is a multinational company operating in Papua New Guinea… what Court of Law will deem injustice to Barrick when the SML has expired and the State has the prerogative to either renew or extend SML as per the relevant Acts protecting and upholding the Constitution and Sovereignty of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea?
    May the Courts of Justice be realistic and prudent about this decision by the State; a Contract is a Contract, as so is Life…A Birth and Death…we do not live forever.
    In so, Barrick and it’s Chinese partner must know it does not own Porgera Mine nor play legal games upon what that does not belong to them.
    The Prime Minister has spoken in the righting of past decisions in the best interest of country and so be it.
    Papua New Guinea cannot be allowed to live by constant legal threats by foreigners interest on our land…enough is enough.
    Stand-up Against Corruptive and Manipulative Investments in Papua New Guinea.

  9. BNL is employing over 3600 jobs to the Porgera mine as well as billions of dollars to the PNG economy , they are world class leader in operating mines , my suggestion is the government needs to step back and work with them create a win win for both parties.

  10. Teargun says

    Prime minister. JP. It’s in your hand, kisim Bek PNG, economic. If Government & Enga Provincial Government Plus the Land Ownee will benefit good .so the campanys operating in the country must comply with PNG laws in any sector.

  11. Howard says

    Zijin’s statement that PNG stands to loose alot from China shows that the agreement between PNG and Zinjin Mining was never a good one. PNG stands to loose alot more compared to Zinkin Mining needs to be questioned, why and how did we get to this stage.

  12. Alex Manas says

    Mr Prime Minister, It is your Government’s Strategy and best practice for the mine to abide by. Papua New Guinea Government decisions are for the good of Greater PNG. companies, oil and Gas are here to develop PNG but at the same time, for the Laws of the State. To Prime Minister, the economic management is on your hands. Progress in a winwin situation. Any company must comply with PNG laws in any sector.

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