In brief: Foreign exchange reserves to be about US$2 billion by year’s end, and other business stories

Rise in foreign exchange reserves expected, K1.3 billion required annually for road maintenance work, and Ramu nickel project to have 35 year life. Your weekly digest of the latest business news.

Foreign exchange reserves are expected to be at about US$2.2 billion (K7.1 billion) by the end of 2018, according to the Bank of Papua New Guinea March Monetary Policy Statement. This compares to US$1.735 billion (K5.607 billion) at the end of 2017. The increase comes from more mining and petroleum tax, dividends, and royalty and development levy from the PNG LNG Project,’ it said. Governor, Loi Bakani, said the balance of payments recorded an overall surplus of K350 million in 2017 and in 2018, the balance of payments is expected to record a higher surplus of K1.533billion.

***

Works Minister, Michael Nali. Credit: Post-Courier

Works Minister Michael Nali has told Parliament he needs about K1.3 billion annually to repair and restore national roads to acceptable conditions. He also said he needs K700 million to pay outstanding invoices to roading contractors.

***

The Vice-President of Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Limited, Wang Baowen, says the RAMU Nickel Project has an expected lifespan of more than 35 years. The Post-Courier reports Wang was addressing aggrieved landowners who petitioned the Government and the developer over what they claimed were missed business opportunities, compensation payments, royalties and environmental issues.

***

Story continues after advertisment...

Highlands Pacific recorded a net profit of K115 million (US$37.4 million) in 2017, due to an increase in the valuation of its interest in the Ramu nickel cobalt mine. The company recorded a loss of US$15.4 million (K48 million) the previous year. CEO Craig Lennon said: “The outlook for Ramu remains very favourable over the medium term, with ongoing advances in battery technologies and electric vehicle production likely to underpin continued strength in nickel and cobalt prices.”

***

In the first stage of a complex hearing process, an international arbitrator has ruled against Highland Pacific’s claim it should not have to contribute US$12.4 million to the costs of Freida River copper mine feasibility study under its joint venture agreement with PanAust because it had not been completed before its free carry ended in June 2016. The second stage of the process will see Highlands Pacific arguing that PanAust should still pay for all costs undertaken for feasibility studies since the special mining lease application, and it should be able to defer costs until the project proceeds.

***

A new K4 million national food testing and monitoring centre has been opened at Unitech in Port Moresby. The centre was established by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and Unitech. The NFA’s Managing Director, John Kasu, said the centre will provide verification of fish and products, as well as while creating an avenue for academic learning, training and research for students in PNG and the Pacific region.

***

The Minister for State Investment and Public Enterprises, William Duma, has told Parliament that power plants, the service lines and the turbines are unable to supply the required amount of power for PNG because hydropower stations which were built in the 1970s have deteriorated and no government since has been inclined to rehabilitate them.

***

The Government owes K230 million to the Defence Force retirement fund, according to the fund’s trustee. CEO of Comrade Trustee Services, John Auna, told The National the new accumulation scheme, introduced in 2016, is modelled on existing superannuation funds, where the Government is required to pay an employer contribution.

***

The PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum has launched a relief appeal to help victims of the February 26 earthquake, contributing K10,000 itself and inviting members of the business community and other interested individuals to donate in cash or in kind.

 ***

A group of customary landowners in Papua New Guinea has regained access to their land after a legal fight against supporters of a logging company. Radio NZ Pacific reports the land in question is the site of a controversial Special Agriculture Business Lease, where large tracts of rainforest have been logged by a Malaysian company and replaced by oil palm plantations.

 

***

Photograph of the week

Steven Kari has won the Pacific’s first gold medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with a record-breaking lift of 216kg in the clean and jerk, shattering the Commonwealth record by six kilograms and setting a new Games record. Credit: RNZ Pacific