Barrick has pledged to prioritise local employment as part of its plan to restart the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Talks between Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow, PNG prime minister James Marape and Porgera landowner groups last week revealed a Porgera Development Fund is in the works.
According to Bristow, the fund will inject millions of kina to enable local projects, while pledging to choose local employment first.
“In aligning our interests, it recognises the importance of the landowners and the communities, and prioritises the benefits they will receive, not only from the mine but from a new Porgera Development Fund that will invest tens of millions of kina in promising local projects.
“In addition, Barrick Niugini (BNL) is committed to giving preference to competitive local contractors and suppliers and to employing Porgerans first. With Barrick Niugini as operator, Porgera will also redouble its efforts to be a responsible steward of the environment.”
Bristow said that the mine may be able to resume operations later this year.
“The road to re-opening is a long one, and between the state, local communities and BNL, the implementation details of the agreement still need to be finalised,” he said.
“However, if all parties work together uninterrupted in the spirit of partnership envisaged by the agreement, our hope is that the mine will be able to restart later this year.
“It is no small task. But we are committed to playing our part, so that the new Porgera can realise its extraordinary potential and deliver decades of value to the people of the Porgera Valley, Enga, Papua New Guinea and the shareholders of Barrick Niugini.”
In April 2021, a new joint venture agreement for the Porgera gold mine was announced, with 51 per cent of the site to be owned by PNG stakeholders and 49 per cent by Barrick Niugini, who will continue as the operator.
The decision was made after the PNG Government refused to extend its special mining lease with Barrick in April 2020.