Barrick Gold has flagged massive job losses at the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea after the country’s government refused to extend a mining lease at the site in April.
An expected 2650 PNG nationals will have their jobs cut at Porgera, with Barrick confirming that the majority of the mine’s 116 expatriate employees will also be facing retrenchment.
Barrick is expected to lose $US52 million ($75.7 million) as a direct cost of the job cuts — with the future of the mine still up in the air.
The announcement marks what’s possibly a closing chapter in Barrick’s recent dispute with the PNG Government, which has forced Barrick to place Porgera on care and maintenance.
Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow said the ongoing dispute with the government and their decision to shut down the mine had created a “financially untenable” situation.
“In these circumstances BNL has regretfully been forced to end the employment of the majority of its workers,” he said.
“Only essential services personnel required for the care and maintenance programme will be retained to ensure the safety of the community, the environment and the mine infrastructure.
“We understand that the loss of employment will have a significant impact on workers, their families and the Porgera community, as well as on the economy of Enga Province and the nation. We sympathise with them and we share their frustration at the situation the government has created. We will continue diligently to seek a resolution to this issue.”
Following the government’s decision in April, Barrick employed the Porgera workforce on a temporary basis.
Barrick has long been a majority owner and operator of the Porgera mine under a joint venture with the PNG Government.
The PNG Government’s decisions is under an ongoing judicial review in the national court.