Barrick Gold chief executive officer Mark Bristow has shown urgency to restart the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) ahead of a meeting with the country’s Prime Minister.
The meeting will take place while the Barrick executive team is in PNG between October 12 and 15.
The mine has been under care and maintenance since April 2020 after the PNG Government denied an extension to the mining lease.
Bristow said discussions between the now joint venture of Barrick and the PNG Government have been slow.
“While the current pace of the negotiations is not as rapid as we might have hoped, certain commercial arrangements, as defined under the framework agreement, need to be finalised to give our shareholders confidence in the reinvestment,” Bristow said.
“I sincerely hope we can get these agreements signed off by the state as soon as possible, particularly given the ongoing cost of keeping the mine under care and maintenance.”
The mine, located 600 kilometres northwest of PNG capital Port Moresby, has produced more than 20 million ounces of gold while employing 3300 locals over the site’s life.
The mine was previously a joint venture (JV) between Barrick Niugini (its own equal JV between Barrick Gold and China’s Zijin Mining) at 95 per cent, and PNG stake holders, landowners and government at 5 per cent.
But a new agreement in April saw the ownership transition to a 51/49 joint venture between those PNG stakeholders and Barrick Niugini, respectively.
Those discussions in April and then June saw the parties plan to reopen the mine in late-2021, but Bristow has now indicated the schedule remains up in the air.
“We all need to put in our best efforts towards concluding the remaining agreements if we want to have any chance of restarting the mine this year or early next year,” Bristow said.