PM Responds To Criticism

Prime Minister James Marape has responded to criticisms from the Leader of the Opposition, Belden Namah regarding the delay in reopening of the Porgera Mine.

In June, the Prime Minister had stated that the mine would be reopened by PNG’s 46th Anniversary as a gift to PNG.

 In a statement released this week, Mr Namah said the PM is making a laughing stock of the country.

“When National Day dawned last Thursday, September 16th, the Prime Minister had the audacity to express his disappointment to the nation that he had come up empty handed, and set yet another deadline at “two weeks’ time”.

Prime Minister James Marape said the significance of getting national projects correct right at the start far outweighs anything else and it was important all details were sorted for Porgera before the mine could be reopened.

"The key details of the partnership is already set under the Framework Agreement. The commercial arrangement has to be carefully designed to take account of financing arrangement, and the benefit split and meet important stakeholder’s requirements.”

"Every other commercial agreements will be built on the Commencement Agreement so we have to ensure that we address important commercial issues correctly.”

The PM said this is the responsible thing to do to avoid compromising the interest of different stakeholders in the future.

"It is very important that we get this correct from day one, instead of starting off on a platform that we will regret later.”

"Dates and deadlines are set for us to work towards. There are many factors and forces at play in such mega negotiations including stakeholder partners who are contending with their own issues outside that might have some effect on project talks.

PM Marape added that a statement he had released earlier on 16th September contained sufficient explanation on project status.

"We are almost there with Barrick except for a few important issues that need to be sorted out," he said.

Mr Namah, however, has expressed doubts about this in his statement.

“Clause 4 of the Framework Agreement is explicit in that regard. It states very clearly that tax liability issues from the Old Porgera must NOT enter discussions on the new Porgera. If they were then the FA would be automatically voided.

“Since outstanding tax stands at about K1.2 billion and reopening costs stand at about the same amount, it is clear the company intends to use the State’s own money (outstanding tax from old Porgera) to reopen the mine.

“If the State refuses and presses ahead with legacy issues, the FA is voided and negotiations collapses. If it agrees then, reopening the mine would be at State expense (through Barricks tax liability) and not by Barrick as stipulated in the FA.

“And all this would never have happened, had the Prime Minister NOT forced the closure of the mine in the first place.

“His deadline for Pasca gas project never eventuated and the Government had a falling-out with developer Twinza. The deadline for Porgera has passed and next week’s new deadline will pass too.

“All these projects and time lines are well within his control as head of Government. The fact that he cannot deliver them on time or at all calls into question his abilities and capability as Prime Minister.

Press Release