GOLD bars are being smuggled across the border with Indonesia and sold at Jayapura for up to K60,000, an alluvial mining conference has been told.
Concerns were raised at the conference in Lae this week about border security and regulations.
The gold smuggling operation was brought up during a panel discussion between East Sepik businessman Allan Bird, Wau small scale mining branch manager Al Comparativo, Mineral Resource Authority executive manager (regulatory operations division) Roger Gunson and Unitech’s Dr Gabriel Arpa.
Bird revealed the illegal sale of gold at the border, while some crossed to sell their precious cargo in Jayapura. “People walk over to Jayapura with the minerals estimated at between K50,000 and K60,000,” he said.
“They sell them, enjoy all their money and return empty-handed home. They never realised the value of their effort under the scorching sun at river banks.
“Smuggling gold out of PNG may be another critical reason in the drop of the country’s revenue and should be regulated.”
Gunson confirmed that it was an issue the MRA and the Bank of PNG had been monitoring.
But he said the MRA needed information on the number of tenement holders in PNG, where or to whom they sold their minerals, who were the buyers and license exporters.
“Importantly, tenement and lease holders need to be mindful and responsible,” he said.
Arpa said whatever belonged to Papua New Guinea must be regulated and kept in the country to meet future needs when the economy was struggling.
“PNG gold bars going out of the country paint a negative image undermining government’s ability to protect what belongs to the country.”