Enga Province: Papua New Guinea Business Guide


Enga is the highest and second-most rugged province in Papua New Guinea. Most of the province is over 2000 metres above sea level, but there are also many valleys which feed into the two major river systems that drain the province: the Lagaip, a tributary of the Fly River, and the Lai, a tributary of the Sepik River.

A pair of sickle birds near Kumul Lodge. Credit: Daniel Kumban

Enga was carved off from the neighbouring Western Highlands Province at the time of independence in 1975, and is located in the northernmost part of the highlands. Enga is unique among the provinces in PNG in that it has only one major linguistic and ethnic group.

The people of Enga, the Engans, speak a single language in all the province’s five districts. Enga is full of clans made up of 300-600 members. These clans are part of larger tribes. Other minor ethnic groups are the Ipili and Nete speakers.

Economic overview

The province has one of PNG’s most important mines: the Porgera gold and silver mine, an open pit and underground gold mine situated at an altitude of 2200-2600 metres. Porgera used to produce over 230,000 ounces of gold annually, and has reserves of 1.85 million ounces. Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining Group used to hold 47.5 per cent of the operation, with the remaining five per cent interest held by Mineral Resources Enga (MRE).

On 24 April 2020, the PNG Government announced that it refused to extend the mine lease to Barrick and Zijin. Operations at Porgera have stopped since and over 2650 workers have lost their jobs.

In April 2021, the PNG government and Barrick reached a ‘binding framework agreement’ to share future benefits from the mine and boost local ownership to 51 per cent. A reopening is now expected at the end of 2021 or early 2022.

The other significant mine prospect, which may be revived, is the Mt Kare mine, which is estimated to have 2.5 million ounces of gold.

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Enga is possibly the least modernised of any province and many traditions are unchanged from centuries ago. Accordingly, the economy is mostly informal. There is little use of money and pigs are the main indicator of wealth. Enga’s economy is mainly subsistence farming, with coffee as the main source of cash. Potatoes, cabbages, sweet potato, taro, bananas, yams and other tropical vegetables are grown.

There have also been attempts to grow pyrethrum, an extract from a daisy-like plant of the chrysanthemum group that is used as an additive in pharmaceuticals (body and household sprays), insecticides and mosquito coils.

In April 2019, the PNG Government announced a US$43 million upgrade to Wapenamanda Airport, to include an expansion of the runway area, a new terminal and a new vegetable market. The project, funded by the Asian Development Bank, was ‘substantially complete’ by the end of May 2021, with the airport expected to reopen thereafter.


The explorer and patrol officer James Taylor saw Enga in 1938 and described it as a ‘garden land’. He considered the valley he was in as ‘one of the most beautiful in New Guinea, if not in the world.’ Tourists can watch birds of paradise feed from the balcony at the eco-lodge Kumul Lodge, or go on orchid tours. The annual Enga Cultural Show in August (engaculturalshow.org.pg) offers an insight into the local way of life. Sirunki is the highest habitable village in the province at 1220 metres, with views of Lake Sirunki in the valley below.

Where to stay

  • Ribito Hotel, Wabag Lodge (wabaglodge855@gmail.com) and Daewon Hotel (dwltdhagen@gmail.com) offer good value in Wabag.
  • Kumul Lodge and Yaskom Resort Hotel (+675 7066 4580) are out of town, along the Highlands Highway.
  • Yaskom is 45 minutes from Wabag and is the place to stay if visiting Sirunki.

Enga Province in brief

Province name: Enga

Capital: Wabag

Population: 432,045

Area: 11,704 square kilometres

Distance from Port Moresby: 609 kilometres

Getting there: Air Niugini flies from Port Moresby to Wapenamanda Airport regularly. The flight time is 1 hour 30 minutes.

Sectors: Gold, silver.

Copyright 2020, Business Advantage International Pty Ltd

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