Barrick Niugini Ltd to challenge PNG Government's Decision

 BARRICK Niugini Ltd (BNL) has filed an application in court asking for a stay of the Papua New Guinea Government’s decision that granted Kumul Mineral Holdings Ltd (KMHL) a new mining lease to operate the Porgera gold mine in Enga.

BNL has already been allowed a judicial review of the decision, thus, it is now seeking certain interim stay orders pending final determination of the review.

Justice Nicholas Miviri in the Waigani National Court, on Friday, heard submissions from lawyers representing the miner and the State regarding the stay.

He will be making a decision on March 5 as to whether the Government’s decision should be stayed.

The miner holds the former lease (special mining lease 1) over the mine that expired last year, it is challenging the new lease, SML 11 which the Government granted to KMHL to operate the mine.

BNL claimed that KMHL was not entitled to be granted the new lease because the land, the subject of SML 11, was not available as it was subject to either SML 1 or exploration licence 454.

It claimed that KMHL’s application for SML should not have been dealt with under (Part V) of the Mining Act 1992 as the land, the subject of SML 11, was not “reserved land” within the meaning of sections 95B and 95C of the Act.

It further claimed that as such, the tenement application by KMHL was invalid as it did not comply with the usual requirements of an SML under the Mining Act.

However, the State, with its authorities in the case opposed the application on the grounds that there were no serious issues to be tried.

Solicitor-general Tauvasa Tanuvasa told the court that the primary issue was whether or not the land subject of SML 11 was validly reserved by the State at the time of grant.

“If it was so reserved then the requirements of part 5 of the Mining Act were validly enliven the KMHL was entitled to apply for, and be granted, SML 11 notwithstanding any other requirement under the Mining Act” he said.

Tanuvasa clarified to the court that (Part V) of the Mining Act only applied to a “State applicant”, defined under the Mining Act to mean “KMHL”.

“Therefore, only KMHL was eligible to apply for and be granted tenure over the land which has been placed under reservation.

“In this respect, there is no dispute between the parties that the land was placed under reservation.

“The reservation was made shortly after the expiry of the former lease SML 1.”

Tanuvasa claimed that BNL was seeking a stay to take control of the mine to prevent the State from accessing its own resources. BNL however contends that the land was not available for reservation as it was subject to the expired lease.


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