The PNG Government is not backing from its decision to cease the Special Mining Lease for Pogera Gold Mine.
Prime Minister James Marape said the decision not to renew the lease was done lawfully.
A statement released by the Prime Minister said it was a decision that was made in full accordance with the laws of the nation and any assertions made by Barrick Gold to suggest otherwise are without merit and have no basis in law.
The decision not to renew the SML was made by the government taking into account the recommendations and advice from regulators and experts.
Prime Minister James Marape said he did not make the decision alone. It was a decision made by the Constitutionally mandated National Executive Council of PNG.
As Prime Minister, he said he will not allow Barrick or any person to undermine PNG’s sovereignty or national interest.
He stressed that the laws are clear, citing section 145 of the Mining Act 1992 which prescribes that on the expiry of a tenement all rights conferred or enjoyed under the tenement shall cease from the date of expiry.
Simply put, in making the decision not to renew the SML, the tenement expired and by virtue of that decision, the rights conferred upon Barrick cease, and the tenement reverts to the State free of encumbrances or inconvenience.
This is consistent with the Porgera Mining Development Contract (MDC) that contains clear direction with respect to termination and the rights of the state.
The PM said, the Court has already made a clear ruling with regard to third party assets and any action taken by Barrick contrary to that order is quite frankly, a breach of our laws.
He said rather than seeking to enter into discussions on commercial terms as proposed by the State, Barrick has instead chosen to stop operations, stand-down workers and cease essential services to local communities.
He said this is not in anyone’s interest, least of all, the people of Porgera whom Barrick claims to speak for.
He goes on to explain that, the fact is, the National Court of Papua New Guinea, a Court of competent jurisdiction is already hearing legal proceedings instituted against the State by Barrick.
As it stands, the State remains willing to discuss in good faith Commercial terms on a “without prejudice” basis with Barrick. But the state will not discuss the decision made, to not renew the Special Mining Lease.
Meantime, Enga Governor Peter Ipatas says there is a range of unresolved issues from the environment to benefits that need to be addressed.
While this tug of war continues, employees and the landowners who have been badly affected as well, are calling for the mine to reopen immediately.