Home  >  Sustainability  >  Human Rights  >  A New Start for Porgera

A New Start for Porgera

A New Start for Porgera

Since the Porgera Joint Venture in Papua New Guinea began operations in the late 1980s, there have been allegations of human rights violations linked to local police and private security forces.

In 2020 it was placed in care and maintenance by the Papuan Government due to concerns regarding environmental management, as well as legacy human rights aspects. When it was placed in care and maintenance, Barrick’s then new management team had not had a chance to fully implement and embed ‘New Barrick’s’ sustainability strategy. Since then, we have continued to negotiate in good faith with the Papuan Government and other key local stakeholders to resolve concerns and rebuild our social license to operate. During 2023, these negotiations proved successful and an agreement to restart Porgera was reached.

Implementing Our Strategy and Sharing Benefits

In line with our sustainability vision and strategy, the foundation of the Porgera restart is an agreement to ensure benefits of the mine are shared with and felt by the local community, across the Enga province and wider Papua New Guinea throughout Porgera’s 20-year mine life. This agreement includes a new shareholding structure and benefit sharing terms. Under the new terms, in-country shareholders comprised of landowners, the Enga Province and the State are to receive 53% of the economic benefits which flow from the operations. While Barrick Niugini Limited, a 50:50 joint venture with Zijin Mining, will hold the remaining 47%.

Compensation and Continuing Negotiations

A critical component of the benefit sharing, and restart agreement is a long-term compensation agreement with tenement landholders. This includes, but is not limited to, the Porgera Landowners Association (PLOA). Further to this agreement, we are continuing to engage and negotiate with local stakeholders regarding compensation. These negotiations are conducted through the Papuan Government’s agency system, a mechanism which is long accepted by landholders and has been used for compensation payments since 1989.

A key focus of our approach to negotiation is to ensure that economic benefits reach the affected households and local people. For that reason, we do not and will not negotiate with self-appointed or self-claimed representatives, representative organizations or ‘middlemen’.

Law and Order

Law and order is a persistent challenge in the Porgera Valley, and the wider Enga Province of Papua New Guinea. Tribal conflict regularly occurs in Enga and can often turn violent. In addition, the Porgera mine regularly manages large influxes of illegal miners attempting to access the mine.

There is significant intra and intertribal fighting and human rights abuses, which has been most evident in the Porgera Valley during the past three years when we had limited or no presence in the region. The escalation in violence during this time culminated in the withdrawal of most of the state security forces as well as a number of documented murders, sexual assaults and other human rights violations.

We believe the restart of Porgera, and the implementation of our sustainability strategy, can and will be a stabilising force and driver of change in a part of the world that has seen little progress in respect of human rights, and which the international community seems to have forgotten about during our absence. The neglect of the Porgera Valley and Enga by International NGOs reinforces our concerns about the most vulnerable being left behind. That International NGOs would withdraw from an area when there isn’t a large or private company as a focal point is worrisome. Fortunately, local NGOs have remained in the region and have continued to work with and for local people on the ground. These are the NGOs we partner with.