Prime Minister James Marape acknowledge that much progress has been made to reopen the giant Porgera Mine. He said that since the signing of the Framework Agreement on 09 April 2021, there has been a lot of activities in preparation for the reopening of the mine.
He said that while opening the Porgera Mine is an important outcome we are all looking for, getting to that point required important regulatory and commercial arrangements to be in place.
He recognised the commitments that the regulators, Barrick and Kumul Mineral Holding Limited have demonstrated to progress important milestones.
He said that the engagement with landowners on the details of the benefits and the presentation of the framework agreement in Porgera on the 4th of June 2021 was an important milestone.
So was the Land Owner Consultative Meeting’ which was held in Wabag on the 8th July where SML, LMP, Riverine footprint landowners came in large numbers to be informed of the benefits of the New Porgera.
On the basis of that strong support, the Mining Department and the Mineral Resources Authority were able to successfully conduct clan validation exercise on the SML and LMPS.
The validation exercise to appoint the SML Landowners was completed on the 5th August. This was followed by the validation of LMP and Riverine Foot print which saw the nomination of LMPs agents on the 27 August 2021.
The Prime Minister said that it was important that all milestones are concluded properly and according to set processes and law to ensure that the pathway is cleared for the reopening of the mine.
There are key legal agreements & commercial discussion and exchanges with the state, Kumul and the Barrick Team which need to be concluded correctly.
“I am obviously disappointed that our set deadline has now surpassed us. But I am absolutely committed to ensure that the important commercial arrangements under the key agreements are concluded correctly so that all our collective interests as reflected in the framework agreement are fully captured in the commencement agreement and other important agreements. We cannot afford to miss anything by rushing through these agreements and unfortunately, there are no short cuts to this.”
He acknowledged that apart from the Commencement Agreement which is currently being discussed for finalisation, the teams have been working concurrently on the Operatorship Agreement and the Mining Development Contract, which would secure the commercial arrangements for the new Porgera and its ownership structure going forward. It took a lot of effort to get this far.
“Kumul & Barrick and the State Team are progressing this body of work well and it is about 80% complete. There are obviously key issues which both parties will be discussing in the next two weeks with a view of finalising the Agreement for signing.”
He said that the conclusion of the commencement agreement will trigger off all other agreements. These includes the Operatorship Agreement, the Shareholders Agreement, the Fiscal Stability Agreement and the Mine Development Contract (MDC).
Following that, it is also expected that key service contracts including employment, supply and procurement contracts will be concluded and the mine will then be able to recommence operations.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged very strong support from the Enga Provincial Government and the people of Porgera to help finalise the clan agents.
These important support from our key stakeholders will ensure that there is project security.
“In recognising that, he foreshadowed that in principle his government would consider supporting further equity adjustments possibly up to 40%-60% for the landowners/provincial governments and the State. This is the same principle my government believes in by empowering provinces and land owners just like we have passed on 40% of Eda Ranu to landowners and provincial governments.”
He also accepted that any eventual equity ratio for Porgera will be subjected to important technical and policy discussions, given that important commercial arrangements and economic benefits are based on the current agreed split and upon which the framework agreement was concluded.
He also proposed that those consideration must preferably also include any other stakeholders within the foot print of the project as a minimum consideration.
He expressed hope that at the time of the development forum those key discussions will be held. Those discussions could be built around the revised policy led by the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards to guard future equity discussions.
These are important discussions which have implications on not just Porgera but other mining projects. We have to understand the technical details that would guide questions on equity for now and into the future.
“The Government has decided that we are in partnership with Barrick and therefore we remain committed to full terms of the framework agreement, and would like to ensure that all the subsequent agreements and arrangements are concluded within this month.”
He called on the State Team and the Barrick to stay focussed on the important milestones at hand to ensure that the intentions of the Framework Agreement are realised to their fullest extent.