The huge risks and rewards of [Barrick’s] Papua New Guinea’s Porgera gold mine – by David James (Business Advantage PNG – March 13, 2019)

The Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province is a world class gold mine but, as Executive Director for Barrick (Niugini) Ila Temu explains, it is also one of the world’s most difficult mines to operate.

Drainage, breakdowns in the infrastructure and illegal mining are the three challenges Porgera miners and executives face.

But the rewards are also great. Despite the severe obstacles, Porgera’s production in 2017 was about 500,000 ounces of gold and 204,000 in 2018 (with production affected by the Highlands earthquake).

Barrick Gold Corporation’s new President and CEO, Mark Bristow, explained during his recent trip to Papua New Guinea that the future of the Porgera mine is considered promising. ‘When you look at the current plans of Porgera, it has the potential to be able to deliver 500,000 ounces [per annum] for the next 10 years,’ he reportedly said.

‘The geologists are indicating that there’s potential for another 10 years after that.’ Barrick (Niugini) Executive Director Ila Temu says the company moves 65,000 tonnes of earth per day, 55,000 tonnes of which is waste.

Grading in the open pit is about 2.6 grams per tonne and about 1.8 grams per tonne in the long term stock piles. ‘The underground gold grade is slightly higher: 6.8 grams per tonne.’

Porgera is located at the end of the Highlands Highway, which means it is vulnerable to landslips and tribal conflict taking out power lines.‘So we become a mud moving operation rather than a mining company.

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