The Register of Mining Tenements records that the head of state granted SML 11 to Kumul on August 25, a lease which covers 2135ha of land at Porgera.
Barrick Niugini says the lease covers areas of land which are valid tenements of the company and as such, the area was not available for grant at the time the government took the action.
Kumul lodged an application on July 27, and the the lease granted on August 25, and "these short timeframes raise serious questions as to how regulatory authorities, notably the Mineral Resources Authority, were able to responsibly and properly assess the Kumul application on technical, environmental, financial and social grounds in scarcely a month, and to assess the capacity of Kumul to maintain and manage an operation as complex and capital intensive as Porgera safely and efficiently".
This is an edited version of the rest of Barrick Niuguini's statement:
In particular, Barrick Niugini contends that necessary documents revealing Kumul's plans for the Porgera project, such as a proper Feasibility Study, were not submitted with the SML application and that the required procedural steps, such as advertising the SML application, inviting objections from affected persons, and conducting mine warden hearings involving the affected communities, were not undertaken as required by law.
Barrick Niugini also contends that Kumul is not a party to a mining development contract (MDC), and that no proper environmental impact assessment has been submitted, nor has an environmental permit been approved.
The absence of all of these normal procedural steps and safeguards reinforces Barrick Niugini's concerns with the process adopted in processing the Kumul application and purportedly granting a special mining lease to Kumul.
Barrick Niugini reiterates that it considers any such grant of SML 11 to Kumul to be unlawful and invalid under the laws of PNG. Barrick Niugini will continue to defend its rights in accordance with the laws of Papua New Guinea and pursuant to the terms and conditions of long-standing prior agreements that are binding on the government of PNG.
BNL remains willing to engage in good faith negotiations to chart a way forward that can result in a win-win for all stakeholders and lead to the re-opening of the Porgera mine, however this cannot be based on an abrogation of BNL's legal rights and interests.