Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas is disappointed that Barrick Niugini Limited, has instigated legal action as they continue to pursue their removal as Special Mining Lease operator of the Porgera Gold Mine.
In a media release today, the Governor says, he encourages Barrick to come to the table recognizing the fact they no longer hold ownership of the mine.
Ipatas comments come after Barrick Niugini Limited filed a court proceeding, currently underway before the PNG Courts that challenge the legal validity of the Government’s grant of a Special Mining lease to Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited.
Barrick in its own media release, stating that the company believes this was done illegally and in contravention of its rights over the Porgera Mine.
At present, Barrick has filed for a judicial review which they say has the aim of examining whether due process was followed, in the government’s decision not to extend the duration of the original Porgera Special Mining Lease.
On Thursday the 8th of October, acting Chief Secretary and Chairman of the Porgera State Negotiating Team, Isaac Lupari, had stated that he intended to advise the national Government to initial legal proceedings against Barrick Gold, claiming years of environmental neglect and sustained human rights abuses.
Lupari further adding a list of failures by the mining company, which included a failure to fulfill their obligations with regards to the resettlement of landowners and the reluctance of Barrick to hold a round table with government representatives.
The response by Barrick today, however, was critical of the government’s top official.
Barrick stating, there are no historical legacy issues, and that their legal action is a legitimate step intended to protect their investor’s rights under both PNG and international law.
That fact had at one stage been acknowledged by Prime Minister James Marape, that was quoted by BNL in their release. For the people of Porgera, through the Enga Provincial governor, Sir Peter Ipatas, it has been nothing short of a disappointment. He says, that the back and forth between the national government and the mining company has seen his people suffer. Saying, efforts to divide the landowners and promote further litigation are unhelpful at this time. The governor said they are keen to have the mine reopened soon, but understandably are requesting better commercial terms that recognize the contributions of the land-owners and the provincial and national Government.
All parties, however, do agree on one thing, that the mine’s closure and loss of revenue generation will have a massive impact on the economy.
And current lessee’s Kumul Mineral Holdings Limited have been advised to exercise their rights to reopen the mine with the interests of people and the environment a priority.