Late in April, in the middle of a global pandemic and slow-boiling domestic economic crisis, the government of Papua New Guinea made the surprising announcement not to extend the mining lease on a goldmine that contributes roughly 10% of the country’s total exports.
The announcement not to renew the special mining lease for the Porgera mine was a shock, not least to the mine’s operator, Barrick Gold, and their joint venture partner Zijin Mining.
Porgera is one of Papua New Guinea’s longest running goldmines. Operating for 30 years in the highlands province of Enga, this large mine was expected to produce around 250,000 ounces of gold in 2019.
It employs more than 5,000 people and the 5% landowner and provincial equity stakehas helped to fast-track the efforts to bring services and education to one of the country’s most remote provinces.
While a significant economic contributor, the mine has also brought with it significant controversy, including concerns over human rights, environmental issues and conflicts over compensation.