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Miner plans to sell Porgera stake

Post Courier (PNG)
February 17th, 2015

Mining Minister Byron Chan said Barrick Gold’s intention to sell 95 percent of shares is a commercial decision and the State has no control or privy over it.

However, he said he was aware from sources of the decision to sell its shares and the visit of an Asian company with interest in the mine. He said he did not meet with them as it was a commercial decision.

However Mr Chan said any environmental issues and relocation exercise of landowners will have to be taken on by the new buyer.

Mr Chan added that Barrick has given money for relocation but land issues need to be addressed.

He was responding to questions without notice from Lagaip-Porgera MP Nixon Mangape in relation to the 95 percent proposed sale in Parliament yesterday.

Meanwhile, Porgera Landowners Association chairman Tony Mark Ekepa said in a statement that before selling its 95 percent share off, the company must take into account the unresolved issues caused by the mine to the local communities for the past 25 years.

He said there are many unresolved issues like the resettlement program, mine agreement review that is underway but Barrick PNG has already positioned itself in selling its shares without consultation with stakeholders like the Porgera landowners Association, the only mouth piece of the seven major landowning clans in the special mine lease area.

Mr Ekepa said the landowners association strongly oppose Barrick’s intention to sell its shares without taking ownership of the liabilities like the damages to the people and the environment by the mine’s operation.

"We have learnt our lesson and have also experienced grief and distress when Placer Dome sold its shares to Barrick in 2006. "Our concerns were not addressed and yet the operator wants to sell its shares to a Chinese company without addressing the landowner’s outstanding issues. "Thus we strongly demand Barrick to carefully analyse all mine related liabilities and other landowners’ outstanding issues including the environmental damage and the MOU commitments.

Therefore we demand the National Government and Barrick calculate these into monetary value and attach it as a separate price tag for the liabilities with its 95 percent share market price.

"This means there should be two separate sale prices for the 95 percent value and the mine created liabilities value included as compensation package separately on its share selling package.

"If any investor wants to buy Barrick’s shares then they must purchase it with the liabilities upfront and come to mine here, otherwise there is no sale of Barrick’s shares until all outstanding issues are resolved," Mr Ekepa said.

He said the people have also learnt from the Ok Tedi mine issue and just like the people of Porgera when Placer Dome sold its shares to Barrick, and therefore the government should stop any further sale of the mine.

The landowners said if the government has concern for its people then they should allow outstanding issues to be resolved first before such transactions take place.


 

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