MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Barrick Gold Corp is set to elevate its troubled Papua New Guinea mine to its top-tier assets, despite landowner and government demands to cede a larger stake and deteriorating security at the joint venture with China’s Zijin Mining.
With a 20-year lease renewal application in the balance, Barrick has faced backlash from Papua New Guinea (PNG) landowners and residents. Critics say the Porgera mine has polluted the water supply and created other environmental and social problems, with minimal economic returns for locals.
Seven people have died at the Porgera mine since September, including three so-called illegal miners last month in clashes that prompted Barrick’s local entity to appeal for government intervention.
Barrick hopes to boost the mine’s production by 18% or more. This previously unreported outlook raises the stakes for Prime Minister James Marape’s government, which has been seeking richer terms from miners and oil and gas producers.
The head of the country’s mining regulator said Barrick, the world’s No. 2 gold miner, is waiting to begin serious negotiations for permit renewal terms with the country’s executive council, led by Marape.