Canada’s Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD) said it would challenge the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government alleged move to grant a 20-year lease for the Porgera gold mine to a state-backed firm.
The world’s second-largest gold producer is embroiled in a dispute with Prime Minister James Marape, who rejected in April an application by its subsidiary, Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL), for a lease extension.
The Toronto-based miner served Marape with a dispute notice arguing the refusal of Porgera licence extension violated a bilateral investment treaty between PNG and Australia. The move, it said, also infringed international law governing foreign investment.
Barrick said at the time that if the parties were unable to settle the row through negotiations, it would take PNG to international arbitration.
BNL, Porgera’s operator, said in a release it was aware of alleged actions taken by the Marape government to grant the mining for Porgera lease by Marape to state-owned Kumul Minerals Holdings.
The company noted it considered such move “unlawful and “invalid”, adding that it was unaware of any consultation with local owners about the change.
“In purportedly granting a special mining licence in this non-transparent and rushed manner, the Marape government sets a precedent of the State disenfranchising landowners and making decisions with fundamental consequences for their futures and those of their children without doing them the justice of listening to their views,” BNL said in the statement.
More to come…