New PNG PM strives for economic independence through mining reform

Newcrest's Lihir project

Newly-elected Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape has declared he is “striving to economically free” the country through mining law reform.

Addressing the media after his swearing-in ceremony, Marape announced the country would no longer be taken advantage of for its resource-rich land, with a proposed overhaul of mining laws.

“Driven by the common need that this country deserves better, as far as getting from the resources that is abound and blessed by God in the country,” he said.

Mining is an imperative part to the PNG economy with vast mineral deposits being spread across the country that are often capitalised on by foreign companies, including Australia.

Newcrest Mining has its wholly owned Lihir open cut gold mine, which is one of the largest known gold deposits in the world. In the financial year ending June last year, Lihir delivered 955,156 ounces of gold production.

PNG also has significant gold mines that are operated individually by Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining Group.

PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum welcomed Marape’s victory, with its chamber president Gerea Aopi saying the organisation looked forward to working alongside the Prime Minister.

“We look forward to working with Honourable Marape on many of the resource industry policies, particularly the long overdue revised Mining Act, the establishment of a Petroleum Resource Authority, and re-visiting some of the sector’s taxation reforms,” he said

“Stability on many of the fiscal and regulatory regimes is important to ensure ongoing investment in the sector, hence we welcome discussions on some of the country’s major projects in the pipeline such as the Wafi Golpu, Frieda River, and the Papua LNG projects.”

Marape has been a strong critic of mining laws in the country, including an agreement with French oil company Total in April, which allowed it to start work with Oil Search and ExxonMobil on a $13 billion plan to double gas exports.

The new Prime Minister is expected to renew PNG’s focus on ensuring agreements and resources laws are fair for the country.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.