Mining Watch | 6 April 2021
Barrick forces hand of Papua New Guinea government in reopening Porgera mine
(Ottawa) Referring repeatedly to legal threats by Barrick Gold Corp., Prime Minister James Marape of Papua New Guinea (PNG) released a statement on April 5, announcing that his government will be making a deal with the company in regard to the Porgera Joint Venture gold mine.
Barrick started negotiating for a 20-year renewal of its mine permit as early as June of 2017. But even after the mine’s existing 30 year permit expired in August of 2019, the PNG government stuck with its decision not to grant Barrick a permit renewal, citing environmental impacts and other legacy issues. Barrick has been a leading partner in the Porgera Joint Venture mine for 14 years, during which severe environmental impacts, including riverine tailings disposal, have continued to characterize the operations, and the social “legacy issues,” including brutal human rights abuses committed by the mine’s private and public security forces, have deeply angered the local indigenous landowners.
Even after Barrick initiated legal action in PNG, as well as starting international arbitration in July of 2020, the PNG government maintained its fundamental right to determine whether or not Barrick should be granted extended access to the lucrative ore body.
“It seems that the legal pressure Barrick has maintained on the COVID-19-ravished state has finally worn down the resolve of the PNG government to chart a course for the mine without Barrick,” said Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. “It will be important to see what kind of deal Barrick has offered local landowners, as most have been adamant that they want to see the back of this controversial company. Our partners in particular want to know that human rights claims for victims of violence by mine security will finally be dealt with equitably.”
For more information contact:
Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org
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