Part of this was because the government of Prime Minister James Marape refusing to renew the special mining licence of Barrick Niugini's Porgera gold mine in Enga Province.
The Barrick mine has been closed since April 2020, causing the loss of millions which would have been paid to the government through taxes and royalties.
There is still no clarity on when the mine will reopen, despite the operation being essentially nationalised by the government. Barrick is expected to be retained as the operator of the mine.
Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry told The National that exploration remained a challenge and with the 2022 general election about to go ahead: "Investors are going to hold back and wait for certainty," Garry said.
"Going into the elections, just like anywhere in the globe and any country, that's a time of uncertainty and investors will be applying the brakes on new projects until the election period is over because they always want to deal with certainty.
"Some disruptions, some delay in decision making is likely to happen in terms of new project investments. But immediately after the elections, investor confidence level always returns and that we expect."