Ok Tedi mine landowners in Papua New Guinea are expected to make a decision on the mine’s future by the end of the week.
OK Tedi Mining CEO Nigel Parker announced yesterday at the PNG Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference in Sydney that the agreement to extend the life of the Papua New Guinea mine will be finalised shortly, Australian Network News reported.
Parker said seven of the nine community groups who represent 100,000 people downstream of the mine in the Fly River Catchment in PNG’s Western Province have already signed the agreement to continue gold and copper production for another eleven years.
Parker added that he expects the remaining two groups affected by the mine to sign this week.
"It has been an absolutely exhilarating process in the last three weeks," he said.
"I have personally signed on the company's behalf those agreements and the people are extraordinarily happy with Ok Tedi Mining Limited, with the continuation of the mine.”
Recently three MPs have called for the closure of the mine, citing the site poses both health and environmental risks, Parker said this seems to be at odds with what the communities want.
"The communities definitely wants the mine to continue, and are unequivocal about that," he said.
"I am sure the elected politicians have the communities at heart, and if they do get reports coming through of unidentified medical issues I am sure they would react, and possibly that is why they are reacting so much.”
Plans to extend the OK Tedi mine life were announced as PNG mining Minister, Byron Chan told the conference the O’Neil government plans to reform the country’s mining industry.
Chan said the PNG Government will ensure benefits from the mining industry will be delivered to the local people through a wide-ranging reform program.
"We want to make sure people are committed, companies are committed, everyone is committed to the project and not just holding licence and playing on the stock market," he said.
"There are some companies that have been playing that game for far too long."
The proposed strategy will halve the maximum size of exploration leases and reduce the limit the number of licences an individual can hold to 10.
Just yesterday Australian Mining reported the PNG government was attempting to dampen miners’ fears ahead of its mining tax review as concerns about increased nationalisation in the country surfaced.
PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill used the conference to speak to miners before implementing any changes to the regulations, stating that they will not be left out of negotiations during the review.
"It is not going to be out there to deprive the investors who are investing in these projects.
"We understand very well that they are there for a return for their shareholders," he said.
"But equally I am responsible for the return to my own people and my own country."
Earlier this year Ernst & Young listed resource nationalism as the number one fear for miners.
Resource nationalism is a growing issue in Africa, Asia, and South America.