Bristow and Marape meet at Porgera

BARRICK Gold Corporation CEO Mark Bristow and Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape held a meeting at the suspended Porgera gold mine on Friday.
Bristow and Marape meet at Porgera Bristow and Marape meet at Porgera Bristow and Marape meet at Porgera Bristow and Marape meet at Porgera Bristow and Marape meet at Porgera

PNG prime minister James Marape waves to supporters at Porgera

Staff reporter

Barrick said the reopening of the mine under the terms of a binding framework agreement between the government and operator Barrick Niugini (BNL) took a "major step forward" with a discussion between Bristow, Marape and the various Porgera landowner groups.

The framework agreement, signed in April, will see Porgera transferred to a new joint venture to be 51% owned by PNG stakeholders and 49% held by BNL.

Barrick and China's Zijin Mining each own 47.5% of BNL, with PNG stakeholders holding the balance.

"In aligning our interests, it recognises the importance of the landowners and the communities, and prioritises the benefits they will receive, not only from the mine but from a new Porgera Development Fund that will invest tens of millions of Kina in promising local projects," Bristow said.

"In addition, BNL is committed to giving preference to competitive local contractors and suppliers and to employing Porgerans first. With BNL as operator, Porgera will also redouble its efforts to be a responsible steward of the environment."

However, Bristow said the road to reopening was a long one, with implementation details of the agreement still to be finalised.

"However, if all parties work together uninterrupted in the spirit of partnership envisaged by the agreement, our hope is that the mine will be able to restart later this year," he said.

"It is no small task. But we are committed to playing our part, so that the new Porgera can realise its extraordinary potential and deliver decades of value to the people of the Porgera Valley, Enga, Papua New Guinea and the shareholders of BNL."

The event was also attended by Enga governor Peter Ipatas and local member of parliament Tomait Kapili.

"Pogera (sic) valley people , thankyou for your warm reception and hospitality over the last 30 hours I was there with you all. You all inspired me to do better for our country. God bless!" Marape said via Facebook yesterday.

Porgera has been suspended since April 2020 after the PNG government refused to renew its special mining lease.

The operation was a circa 500,000 ounce per annum gold producer prior to its suspension.

Barrick has not included any production from Porgera in its 2021 guidance.