GOLD REFINERY DEAL NOT FINAL:PM
The debate on the agreement signed for the proposed Gold Refinery and Mint factory continues.
In a media statement on Friday, Prime Minister James Marape assured citizens that ‘the agreement is not final.”
He said his government would relook the agreement if it was not in the country’s best interest.
VISION OF RULING PANGU PATI
“Our Pangu Pati-led Government’s vision to build a gold refinery and mint factory in the country is a bold move in the right direction to take back more from our gold resources and reserves.
It also includes having a gold bullion bank into the future.”
PM Marape was not only responding to questions from Opposition Leader, Belden Namah, on the full details of the signing of a proposed factory.
Also, he was clarifying his position on accusations Mr Namah levelled against his government selling PNG gold rights.
GOLD, A HIGHEST-VALUED ASSET IN PNG
He said of all the natural resources PNG hosts, gold was the highest-valued asset in the country.
Gold, he said, is also a secure form of bankable commodity that PNG could use to secure its economy from economic shocks.
“Since the 1800s, our miners harvested gold in the country. We have been exporting gold since but never saw and or knew how much miners produce it in PNG.
“Our Government is stepping into a new frontier where past governments, leaders, and prime ministers had never trod. That is to take back more for our gold through downstream processing which would add value to our economy.”
He told Parliament the deal was a work in progress, not final. “It is open to scrutiny to any suggestions for improvements so as not to harm the national interest.
“We do not owe a bar of soap to the proponents.
GOLD REFINERY AND MINT FACTORY PROPOSAL NOT NEW: FORMER GOV’T APPROVED IT
“They have been pushing this proposal in the last eight to nine years through past governments and ministers.
“The former Prime Minister’ Cabinet approved the project in 2014. That was through NEC Decision 297/2014, and my Government has reviewed this to get better benefits.
“The former Prime Minister knows about it.
” They have been going and coming back and forth with their proposal. They wanted an 80-90-year exclusivity right to mint and refine all gold in PNG and export overseas.
” Under the review that our Government put through the State Negotiation Process, we have arrived at a much improved version that includes an equal 50-50 ownership. Additionally, under the agreement, Refinery Holdings Ltd is putting up the entire capital to construct the refinery and associated business.
WHO OWNS THE 50 PERCENT EQUITY? HOW LONG WILL THE AGREEMENT LAST?
“Mineral Resources Development Company for landowners, as well as an option for alluvial miners and Kumul Minerals will jointly own the 50 percent equity.”
“Contrary to what many speculate, the agreement is for a 30-year period. Another option of extending for another 30 years. In all material time State has option of paying the investor partner out.
“We followed all our normal State processes, including State Solicitor clearances; hence, NEC processed the submissions.
“We are now allowing industry and stakeholder consultation, and a review on what we are doing so we get it right in this direction we are moving.”
PM Marape also instructed the proponents to ensure that they were fully-linked and compliant to world gold industry bench-markers. They include the London Gold Bullion Association and their market rules.
“Government intention is correct. This will link to international benchmark for gold bullion and refinery trade. It is the right and first step in that direction that we are taking,”he said.
“The agreement we have signed is not the final document, but continual due process will take its course, including consultations with gold industry stakeholders.
” This includes big operators and our small alluvial operators, so that our intention to downstream our gold adds value to both their business and our economy.
“I give my country my assurance that we will not sell and sign off our country’s birthright.
“We do not owe a bar of soap to the proponents, and if there is room for improvements in the agreement in our national interest, then those improvements will be made.
“We can review the agreement and or any agreements we have signed if it is not consistent in law, it is only the 10 Commandments that you don’t change.
“But as far as the advice that Cabinet and my Office received, all due process were complied with thus far. We are now consulting for the legislation to be promulgated to embrace this venture.”
NEW PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ESTABLISHED ON GOLD DEAL
PM Marape appointed a committee of leaders to headed by Governors Gary Juffa and Dr William Tongamp, Don Polye and Manasseh Makiba to go through what was agreed to ensure national interest was secured.
Marape also met representatives from PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum today on this matter.
“We gave them assurance that we will not rush this proposal through without stakeholder consultation.
“This is because the industry must appreciate the shift in my Government’s focus towards downstream processing of raw resources and for export of finished products,” PM Marape said.
“My stand is very clear. As the Prime Minister, we want to add value to the benefits from our resources like gold, oil, gas and others.
” Our industries must now realise that downstream processing of resources will be the way of business for us in PNG. Gold is no exception.
“Our Government will consult all stakeholders. We will take on board their views. We will review the agreement to add value to our gold resources.”