Miner hopes to make PNG's Porgera one of its top assets - report

10:56 am on 20 January 2020

Barrick Gold in Papua New Guinea says it hopes to make its troubled Porgera mine one of its top-tier assets this year, despite ongoing issues with various stakeholders.

Porgera mine.

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

Barrick has a 20-year lease renewal application in the balance, but is facing a backlash from landowners and residents, Reuters reports.

Critics say the Porgera mine has polluted the water supply and created other environmental and social problems, with minimal economic returns for locals.

Seven people have died at the Porgera mine since September, including three so-called illegal miners last month in clashes that prompted Barrick to call for government intervention.

The Canadian multi-national wants to up production at Porgera by 18 percent or more.

It comes as the PNG government seeks improved terms from miners and oil and gas producers.

PNG's next steps with Barrick could influence billions of dollars of planned investment by global miners, Reuters reports.

It says miners, facing a dearth of new deposits and rising resource nationalism, may now have to cede greater rewards to other stakeholders.

Barrick, which is in an equal joint venture with China's Zijin, has broadened the role of its top China executive Woo Lee to handle day-to-day talks with the PNG government.

It has pledged to relocate villagers whose land the mine has swallowed and to study ways to improve management of mine waste currently dumped in rivers.

The moves, aimed at mollifying concerns over access to arable land and pollution of local waterways, may not be enough to satisfy landowners and the PNG government who want a larger equity stake.

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