SINGAPORE/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea’s government will take control of the Porgera gold mine after refusing to extend Barrick Gold Corp’s lease over the facility, citing environmental concerns, Prime Minister James Marape said on Friday.
The decision ends months of uncertainty since the lease over the troubled project expired last August, and may end Barrick’s hopes of boosting output from a mine it said held potential as a long-life and high-margin asset.
Marape took power a year ago on a platform of economic nationalism that would review more closely its mineral resource assets, and comes as pressure rises on miners globally to improve their social and environmental responsibilities.
Marape said his government accepted a recommendation from the country’s Mining Advisory Committee to refuse Barrick’s 20-year lease extension application owing to environmental and social problems connected to the mine.
“We are now going through transitional arrangements … and once the transition phase has been completed, then the state will enter into owning and operating the mine,” Marape told reporters in the capital of Port Moresby.