Former Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill said there will be certain challenges before the Porgera mine can restart. My fear is that Porgera might have some huge challenges before it opens, O’Neill said.

Peter O’Neill – Wrong to close mine

PNG Breaking News | June 10, 2021 – The National Main Stories.

IALIBU-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill says there will be certain challenges before the Porgera mine can restart. He noted that Prime Minister James Marape made commitment to address legacy issues, including environmental damage, before the mine could be reopened.

However, he said that had not been the case as all issues were pushed aside. O’Neill said that it had been a mistake to close the mine in the first place.

“It was wrong to close down an operating mine when the gold prices were at its highest, US$2,000 per ounce. “To close a profitable mine at that time is unbelievable.

“My fear is that Porgera might have some huge challenges before it opens. “At the same time, the Government’s inability to pay for the equity, which will mean that Barrick will control the mine and recoup its investment, its loans and its losses, it will be recouped first before Government sees any flow of revenue or dividend to the State.”

Finance Minister Sir John Pundari told the media last Saturday that under the new framework agreement, Barrick had clearly stated that it would start paying its corporate tax to the State.

“Other investors in the extractive industry will now have to think and come on board and do the right thing as good corporate citizens of the global community,” he said.

“Given the Covid-19 and the challenges of our developmental needs, you can come forward and offer free dividends as done by Barrick.

“The want for cash in this nation is so much so that I find it very difficult in meeting those demands. “Demands of arrears, outstanding payments and some are from many years ago,” Sir John said.

“As a nation, we have every confidence when it comes to a new mine like Wafi-Golpu or Frieda River one day.

“We are in great difficulty for the want and demand for money and for Barrick to come on board and do the right thing as a global citizen in the mining industry, they have made a big statement and I want to thank them.

“I also challenge other industry players to come and do the right thing.”

O’Neill said lack of confidence in the economy would mean companies cannot make money, thus pay corporate tax towards the State.

He was reacting to Sir John’s earlier call for some corporate giants who continued to declare losses year in year out to leave the country.

“If they (corporate companies) are not making money, how will they pay corporate tax, how will they pay wages and salary tax, if they are not purchasing anything how will they pay GST.

“If they are not operating a mine how will they pay royalty or development levy, they must be confident enough to invest in businesses, making a revenue and pay tax to government.

“You cannot call on businesses which are not making money to pay tax. “The minister has an obligation to say who is not paying tax.

“You just don’t throw everybody in the same basket and say everybody isn’t paying tax. “There are some good long-term investors in the country.”

Peter O'Neill

Word and picture by PNG Breaking News.

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