The PNGSDP issue has surfaced once again, this time with a new twist on the international front.
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes has accepted and registered PNG Sustainable Development Program Limited's request for international arbitration, over the expropriation without compensation of the company's 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi Mine in the Western Province.
The arbitration hearing is separate to all other litigation relating to the expropriation of the mine, including the latest National Court action.
The chairman of PNGSDP, Sir Mekere Morauta, today said PNGSDP is seeking restitution of the 63.4% of OTML expropriated by the State, or failing that, compensation for the shares.
ICSID is an international institution set up under the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States.
It facilitates arbitration proceedings allowing independent tribunals to decide cases under its rules, and all contracting member states to enforce and uphold arbitral awards in accordance with the Convention.
PNG became a signatory to the Convention with the passing of the Investment Disputes Convention Act in 1978.
150 countries are signatories.
International arbitration by ICSID is available to PNGSDP under Section 39 of the Investment Promotion Act.
Chairman of PNGSDP, Sir Mekere Morauta, in a statement today said PNGSDP is seeking compensation of the 63.4% of OTML.
Sir Mekere said this was illegally expropriated by the State.
Last year, the State expropriated the shares through the 10th Supplemental Agreement Act without compensation.
Over 50 employees of PNGSDP were also laid off without being properly compensated.
Sir Mekere said this, amongst other issues, was in breach of international law and also breached normal standards of behavior of a State towards a foreign company.
The next step that will be taken is for an arbitration tribunal of three eminent international jurists to be set up.
The members will be appointed by agreement between PNGSDP, the State and ICSID.
It is likely that this will happen towards the middle of the year, with hearings possible soon afterwards.
Sir Mekere is adamant that when the mine is returned to PNGSDP, the company will begin talks with the Western Province community so that agreements can be reached on the most appropriate arrangements for the future of the province.
Among priorities is resuming its social and economic development programs in Western Province.
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