This follows concerns raised by landowners that the Government must consult with them fully before making a decision on the Porgera mine lease extension after the mine licence expired in August last year.
Garry addressed the landowners in Porgera on Friday 10 January when the PLOA presented a petition intended for the Prime Minister, to the Minister for Mining, Johnson Tuke, supporting SML extension and the existing operator of the Porgera mine and calling on Government to renew the mine licence without delay.
Garry explained there are two processes involved, one which comes under the MRA. He said unlike for normal exploration licence applications or mining leases, the process can be long for Special Mining Leases (SML) in large mining operations like Porgera.
“This will come through the normal MRA process with recommendations made but the Mining Minister will not make a determination as this will come from the National Executive Council (NEC) and the Governor General will sign off.
“There is also a parallel process which is the Mine Development Contract (MDC) which captures all of the larger agreements with the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. This process is called the MDC negotiation,” Garry explained.
Garry said Porgera’s case is a re-negotiation process because the MDC and the mine licence have expired, but the mine has been allowed to continue to operate under section 112 of the Mining Act which covers and protects the operation to continue until such time the State makes a decision.
“There is some delay. The process of MRA is concluding and we will sit in a special Mining Advisory Council meeting, deliberate on our assessments and put our recommendations.
“On the other side of the process, the MDC is taking some time because to go back and sit with the operator and say we want to negotiate, the State must present its options to the State team to go and negotiate with the operator. The Government has not advised yet of this and so that is the delay.
“Both processes will go in as one submission by the Mining Minister to Parliament. Sorry if the Government is slow on its part but the Prime Minister has tasked us to make it a number one business for the year. I hope this clarifies the delay in the process,” Garry said.
He added the other aspect was the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), stating that when he took up office he realised that a lot of the MOA’s failed simply because the Government does not have money.
“This has made it very difficult for my officers to go back into the project sites and confront landowners over the years. We need to be smarter in how we do business.
“Resource developers must shoulder the responsibility of social licence to operate and not have to put that back on Government. These will all be considered in the negotiation process. It is time to change how we do business so we see benefits to the landowners and custodians of the resources,” Garry stated.
(Jerry Garry greeting members of the Porgera Landowners Association in Porgera last week)