PNG: Porgera Gold Mine Landowners claim $US4b from Barrick

Date of publication: 
11 March 2015

Barrick Niugini Limited’s intention to sell its 95% shares in the Porgera mine was a commercial decision and there was no need for landowners to know.

If Barrick only sold its shares in Porgera mine, the landowners would have been informed. However, Barrick decided to sell all its businesses in the country (PNG) including the Kainantu mine in Eastern Highlands and other exploration licenses in the country, and there was no need for the landowners in Porgera to know this commercial deal.

Barrick PJV Community Relations manager, Timothy Andembo said this during a public forum at the Porgera station last Friday, when asked by landowners why Barrick did not inform them of its intention to sell its 95% shares in the mine.

Mr Andembo said Barrick’s decision to sell off all its businesses in PNG was part of a decision to sell off all Barrick mines and assets in Asia Pacific after making losses.

He urged landowners not to make an issue of why Barrick never told them of its intention to sell its shares because Barrick was a commercial entity of its own, and the landowners had no say in the management and affairs of the company.

Landowner and Member for Lagaip-Porgera Nixon Koeka Mangape said Barrick should have informed the landowners of its intention to sell its shares in the Porgera mine.

“Barrick never told us but we found out ourselves. We are not happy so before it goes it must pay our claim of more than $US4 billion or more than K10.4 billion that we have in place at the moment,” Mr Mangape said.

He said the $US4 billion plus claim was for breach of contract agreements including Special Mining Lease landowners’ resettlement packages, Fly in Fly Out agreement projects, infrastructure including roads and bridges, social and environmental damages.

Mr Mangape on behalf of landowners from both Special Mining Lease (SML) and Lease for Mining Purposes (LMP) said the claim was genuine and if Barrick doesn’t pay, they will take it to the international arbitration.

“Enough is enough. How much it costs will not stop me. Now I have wings and the legs to fight and I will fight to the end, not through gun battle like Bougainville did but through the courts,” Mr Mangape said.

The MP said he had expert lawyers and scientists already working on the ground perusing the $US4 billion claim, and all affected landowners must work with them and give the support they need.

“This is a fight not only for Porgera but Enga and PNG as a whole because everyone will benefit,” Mr Mangape said.

He said Barrick must pay the liabilities first before it sells its shares to other investors.

Barrick did not respond to queries from the Post-Courier yesterday.