Business Weekend Edition Fri - Sun 13th April - 15th April , 2007
Ipatas wants more stake at Porgera mine
ENGA Governor Peter Ipatas wants the Government to buy 20 per cent stake in the Porgera gold mine in the event Emperor Mines wants to offload its interest.
He said there were strong rumours Emperor would offload its 20 per cent shareholding in Porgera as it did with its interest in the Vatukoula mine in Fiji.
Mr Ipatas said the Government should make a move now and increase local shareholding in the project to 25 per cent.
The Enga provincial government and the landowners already own five per cent in Porgera through Mineral Resources Enga.
MRE is managed by the Mineral Resources Development Company on behalf of the people of Enga.
Canadian miner Barrick Gold is the majority shareholder with 75 per cent and according to rumours, the company might make a bid to have 95 per cent control of the mine.
The Government must now make a move to take back the 20 per cent it lost when it decided to sell Orogen to Oil Search, Mr Ipatas said.
Oil Search sold the 20 per cent interest in Porgera when it decided to concentrate on its oil and gas assets in the country.
He said Barrick would not be allowed to have total control of Porgera Joint Venture.
With good commodity prices and a potential extension of the mine life of Porgera, the Government, through the Mineral Resources Development Company, should buy out the 20 per cent in Porgera, he said.
Then the people of Enga should be given a further five per cent (on commercial terms) to increase their shareholding to 10 per cent.
Mr Ipatas said the surplus gains the Government was boasting about should be parked aside and used to increase Government interest in major mining and petroleum companies.
He said the days when the Government and the landowners received only royalties should be over and the Government and landowners should now become effective players in these two industries.
He said one of things his Peoples Party would ensure was majority shareholding of all resource projects would remain in Papua New Guinea.
He said his party would also ensure Papua New Guineans reaped the maximum benefits from their resources.
Mr Ipatas said such investments should be promoted so that Papua New Guineans became active players in any investments such as mining and petroleum, fisheries and forestry.
He said the mistakes of the past should not be repeated.