Barrick Gold agrees new partnership for Porgera with PNG
The Porgera gold mine is on track to resume operations later this year after the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government and Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL) agreed on a partnership for its future ownership and operation following successful negotiations. Porgera has been on care and maintenance since April 2020 when the government declined to renew its special mining lease.
Under the terms of a binding framework signed by Governor General Sir Bob Dadae and Barrick Gold Corporation President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow, ownership of Porgera will be held in a new joint venture owned 51% by PNG stakeholders and 49% by BNL. BNL remains the operator of the mine.
The framework agreement also provides, among other things, for
- PNG stakeholders and BNL to share the economic benefits generated over the life of mine on a 53/47% basis;
- BNL to finance the capital required to restart the mine;
- an increase in the equity allocated to a broad group of landowners who are the customary owners of the land where Porgera is located; and
- the state to retain the right to acquire the remaining 49% of the mine from BNL at fair market value after 10 years.
The parties will now work towards the signing of definitive agreements at which time full mine recommencement work will begin.
Prime Minister James Marape said the framework agreement, reached after months of negotiation, was a historic development, which would benefit PNG for many years to come, and sets the precedent for future projects.
“I thank Mr Bristow and his team for recognizing our nation’s aspirations and their willingness to partner with us in realizing this vision at Porgera,” he said.
Bristow said Barrick, on behalf of BNL’s joint venture partners Barrick and Zijin Mining, was delivering on its promise of reaching a fair agreement on the future of Porgera for the benefit of all its stakeholders, notably the local community, Enga province and the PNG government.
“We intend to partner with all key stakeholders to make Porgera a world-class, long-life gold mine,” he said.
Barrick profit beats expectations as copper, gold prices up
Barrick Gold has reported a 78% jump in first-quarter profit, beating analyst expectations thanks to rising gold and copper prices, and said it was on track to meet annual forecasts.
Production in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, the gold miner said, thanks in part to the ramp-up of underground mining at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and higher expected grades at Lumwana in Zambia, reports Reuters
Barrick’s first-quarter gold production fell to 1.10 million from 1.25 million ounces due partly to lower grades at its Pueblo Viejo mine in Dominican Republic.
Adjusted profit surged 78% to $507mn in the quarter ended March 31, from $285mn a year earlier, and Barrick announced a 9 cent per share quarterly dividend.
Stronger prices helped boost Barrick’s revenue from its copper mines in Chile, Saudi Arabia and Zambia by 31% from the fourth quarter. Overall earnings per share were $0.29, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $0.27.
“We expect a positive stock reaction to the earnings beat and strong cash flow,” said Credit Suisse analysts.
Potential for South Africa merger
Barrick CEO Mark Bristow, who has championed mergers across the gold industry, said he backed the idea of South Africa-listed miners Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti combining.
Speculation has been swirling around the two companies and Sibanye-Stillwater, whose CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a three-way merger.
“I’m a South African, and this country has such a great mining history and it would be great to see a real gold business come out of the many failed discussions that we’ve seen,” said Bristow.
Goldfields declined to comment. In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it was focused on delivering on its growth plan to unlock value from its portfolio of gold assets.
Bristow also said he had met with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new mines minister and other officials and was continuing to work on getting $900mn belonging to its Kibali mine joint venture out of the country.
“We have a solution, it just needs to be sanctioned by the appropriate authorities which haven’t been around for a while,” he said, referring to a recent government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi.