Papua New Guinea seeks $191-million in back taxes from Barrick, Chinese partner as mining row escalates – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – May 7, 2020)

Papua New Guinea wants Barrick Gold Corp. and its Chinese joint-venture partner to fork over US$191-million in back taxes, as the world’s second biggest gold producer dukes it out in court over whether it has the right to continue mining in the country.

Late last month, Papua New Guinea (PNG) refused Barrick’s request to renew its mining lease on the Porgera gold mine, citing environmental and other legacy issues.

Barrick subsequently took legal action against the government, filing a judicial review with the National Court of Justice. The court ordered both sides to negotiate and report on their progress on Friday. If the two can’t reach an agreement, a mediator will be appointed to hash out a settlement.

On April 9, Papua New Guinea informed Barrick that it was demanding the payment of the back taxes, based on an audit of the mine. In a regulatory filing alongside its first-quarter results, Barrick said the request has no merit and that it “intends to defend its position vigorously.”

Porgera is a joint venture between Barrick, China’s Zijin Mining Group Co., Ltd. and the PNG government. It has been in production since 1990, and produced 131,000 ounces of gold in the first quarter.

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