by Delly Waigeno – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) has officially launched the country’s first and single biggest project on behalf of its subsidiary companies.
The Star Mountain Plaza project is an iconic development for the country, as it prepares for the APEC Leaders’ summit in 2018.
The world class project is a joint venture between three PNG Landowner groups; Petroleum Resource Kutubu, Mineral Resources Star Mountains, and Mineral Resources Ok Tedi No.2, in partnership with the State.
The Star Mountain Plaza Ground Breaking ceremony took place yesterday at the construction site on Wards Road, Hohola in the nation’s capital.
Present for the occasion was Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, cabinet ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, and landowners, among other dignitaries.
The Star Mountain Plaza Project will be constructed over two stages, the first to consist of a 212 room five star hotel, a 4,000 square feet multilevel convention and performing arts centre, and a 160 apartment residential tower.
The total cost of the first stage of Star Mountain Plaza is K1.1 billion. MRDC Managing Director, Augustine Mano, said the project involves a funding partnership between ANZ Bank and the State through the spirit of Private Public Partnership to host APEC 2018.
Mano said the Star Mountain Plaza is a visionary project and he commended the owners; the respective boards of Petroleum Resource Kutubu, Mineral Resources Star Mountains, and Mineral Resources Ok Tedi.
“After 40 years of independence, the Star Mountain Project will conform the mindset of landowners as rent collectors, to developers. The Star Mountain Project is a legacy project and claims back the landowner’s heritage and dignity, and contributes towards nation building,” Mano said.
The second construction stage will follow APEC when more commercial, retail and office space will be developed, and potentially a second hotel. The landowner groups from the resource rich Southern Highlands and Western Provinces have pledged commitment to the project.
“We the people of Western Province are proud to be the majority shareholders of the Star Mountain Project. The project for us secures long-term benefits. ” said Ati Wobiro, Governor for Western Province.
“It’s the dawn of a new era in landowner investment diversification. My people are beneficiaries of the Kutubu Project and we are proud to be part of this investment,” added William Powi, Governor for Southern Highlands.
Part of the Star Mountain Plaza Project is the Hilton Port Moresby. Last month a management agreement was signed between MRDC and Hilton Worldwide. This will see the construction of a five star, 212 room premium hotel. The Hilton complex will include four restaurants and two bars, a business centre, health club, spa and outdoor pool and event spaces. Under the agreement, Hilton will manage the hotel and a convention centre within the Star Mountain Plaza.
“We see the enormous potential to work with the local authorities to build a long term sustainable tourism industry that showcases the natural beauty of these islands, whilst providing employment and economic growth. And together with the Star Mountain Plaza, we look forward to making all this beautiful country has to offer, more accessible to our global leisure travellers. Guests can look forward to all the hallmarks of the Hilton Hotel, offering travellers a wealth of authentic experiences with product and services that meet the needs of global travellers. We shape the experiences in which every guest feels cared for, feels valued and feels respected,” said Paul Hutton, Vice President Operations Hilton Worldwide.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said PNG is seeing record numbers of infrastructure investments in the country, and this will support the growth of the economy in the long term.
“MRDC has taken a right approach in the development of assets on behalf of the landowners throughout the country. As we all know today, Papua New Guinea is experiencing economic growth. Although it is not as large as what we expected earlier this year, it is still an enviable growth in any terms. Let there be no doubt, that Papua New Guinea is capable of delivering a first class APEC meeting in 2018,” said O’Neill.
Marking the launch of the project, the Prime Minister unveiled a plaque, the Star Mountain sign was lit up on the hillside, and there were fireworks.
Construction is already underway and expected to be completed by late 2017 in order to host the APEC Leaders’ summit in 2018.