The Mining Minister, Sir Ano Pala has come out to brush aside a recent media report stating that the most talked about opening of the New Porgera Mine in the Enga province, was an empty promise made by the government.
Sir Pala in a statement said that the National Government is committed to ensuring that the Porgera Mining Project commences operations before the end of this year and the slight delay was due to technical issues.
He explained that the government was ready to grant the Special Mining Lease (SML) on 16th September, signaling the re-start of the mine. However, in the weeks leading up to that date, the Mining Advisory Council (MAC) identified a few technical issues that the applicant New Porgera Limited (NPL), needed to address in their application. He said the issues were flagged with NPL, adding that the MAC had received a response from NPL on this matter.
He also assured that the MAC will deliberate on the response from NPL immediately.
We want the project to re-open as soon as possible. This is because of the expected boost to the country’s economy. However, as a responsible government, we must make sure that all regulatory requirements are met, and all laws of the land are abided by, said the Minister.
The minister would be making a submission to cabinet at the end of this month to have the SML granted.
Meanwhile, the Acting Managing Director of the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), Mr. Jerry Garry said the MRA and its line agencies, had been conducting two separate but related processes in parallel. These are the regulatory aspect of the project and the Community Development Agreement (CDA) initial consultations. He said on the regulatory front, which is basically the assessment of the SML application by NPL, the MAC met two weeks ago to deliberate on the application. It was then that they discovered the issues with the application.
Mr. Garry said on the CDA front, landowners and stakeholders had submitted their position papers to the State. A State team is currently going through the position papers to incorporate them into a matrix in preparation for the actual negotiations. The negotiations will begin in about two weeks from now.
He further explained that because the two processes were separate and running parallel to each other, the SML could be granted ahead of the completion of CDA process. Now this means that the mine could re- start operating once the SML is granted, and the CDA process would continue as the mine operates.