The process of reopening the Porgera gold mine under the terms of the binding framework agreement between the government and operator Barrick Niugini Ltd. (BNL) took a major step forward with a discussion between Barrick President and CEO Mark Bristow, Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape and the various Porgera Landowners groups and others.

The framework agreement provides that Porgera will be owned by a new joint venture held 51% by PNG stakeholders and 49% by BNL, with BNL continuing as the operator. The framework agreement also calls on the Porgera Landowners and the Enga Province to have a dialogue to determine how the 10% “protected equity,” which forms part of PNG’s 51% interest will be allocated.

Speaking at the event, which was attended by Marape, Enga Governor Peter Ipatas and local Member of Parliament Tomait Kapili, Bristow said the agreement made each of the parties — the landowners, the national government, the province and BNL — a committed stakeholder responsible for the long-term success of the mine.

“In aligning our interests, it recognizes the importance of the landowners and the communities, and prioritizes the benefits they will receive, not only from the mine but from a new Porgera Development Fund that will invest tens of millions of Kina in promising local projects,” Bristow said. “In addition, BNL is committed to giving preference to competitive local contractors and suppliers and to employing Porgerans first.  With BNL as operator, Porgera will also redouble its efforts to be a responsible steward of the environment.”