What’s being discussed in the PNG resources sectors?

The 2024 PNG Industrial and Mining Resources Exhibition and Conference (PNG Expo) will be the premier event for industry professionals to discuss the latest developments in the Pacific nation.

We take a look at the top talking points.

Community development

Giving back to the community doesn’t just involve education and training opportunities, and Kumul Petroleum’s annual golf charity event is testament to this idea.

Each year, Kumul dedicates the funds made at the event to a worthy cause in PNG.

For 2024, it was the National Cancer Unit at the ANGAU Memorial Hospital for the acquisition of much-needed chemotherapy drugs and consumables.

“Kumul Petroleum has been active in organising a Cobalt 60 radiation source and brachytherapy equipment for use by the cancer unit,” Kumul Petroleum managing director Wapu Sonk said.

“We have been assisted by SYOL International, the radioactive source manufacturer in the US, who have also donated more than K1 million ($403,000) worth of equipment, including two X-ray machines, 10 cancer patient beds and associated hardware.”

When companies give back to the community, the community is more likely to back companies.

This was especially true for PanAust, with the Frieda River landowners reaffirmed commitments to working collaboratively with the company on the Frieda River copper-gold project.

The project aims to help build stronger and more viable communities by establishing public infrastructure, generating skilled employment, and creating business opportunities for local people.

Since 2014, the project has invested more than $US200 million into Papua New Guinea across a range of areas. 

Critical minerals

With its vast reserves of copper, cobalt, nickel and mineral sands, PNG is well-placed to help provide the critical minerals necessary for the world’s transition to net-zero.

Mayur Resources has been working to get its lime and mineral sands project up and running to help strengthen supply. The company’s Central Lime Project is located along Papua New Guinea the coast near Port Moresby and was recently bolstered by a $9.4 million funding commitment.

“This capital injection is a vote of confidence in our ability to deliver high-value, sustainable projects,” Mayur managing director Paul Mulder said.

“It enables us to continue progressing the early development works at our Central Lime Project, setting a solid foundation for the commencement of construction.”

Mayur is aiming for the Central Lime Project to become Asia-Pacific’s first carbon-neutral cement and lime producer.

It’s this sort of innovative planning that will be on show at the PNG Expo in Port Moresby from July 3–4.

“PNG Expo will be the platform to engage and drive transformative changes towards a sustainable future,” show director Lauren Chartres said.

“Our mission is to equip the industry with the right tools.”

Education and training

The name Ok Tedi Mining (OTML) often goes hand-in-hand with education, training and apprenticeship opportunities in Papua New Guinea.

The first three months of 2024 have seen OTML deliver over $121,000 in scholarships to university students, welcome 22 new apprentices, and pledge to donate vehicles and an analytical chemistry laboratory facility at PNG University of Technology.

The scholarships, OTML’s most recent initiative, have seen 10 third-year university students supported with full tuition and boarding for the year, as well as a book allowance and stipend, travel assistance, industrial training and an automatic offer into the two-year graduate development program upon completion of studies.

“The program aims to assist university undergraduate students with school fees and other associated costs while ensuring OTML maintains an industry-institution relationship with respective universities that provide graduates into its training programs and workforce,” OTML said.

Elsewhere in the resources sector, Kumul Petroleum’s training entity Kumul Petroleum Academy is building a new facility to expand its coaching and employment capabilities.

“We are passionate about investing in programs and projects that will upskill and develop our young Papua New Guineans so that they are ready for the projects that are coming online now,” Kumul Petroleum managing director Wapu Sonk said.

The Kumul Petroleum Academy is expected to open within two years and will have the capacity to train 350–400 trainees.

Current projects

The restart of the Porgera gold mine has been in the news a lot recently, and for good reason.

The Porgera mine, owned by Barrick Gold, is located in the Enga Province of Papua New Guinea, about 600km north-west of the capital of Port Moresby.

The Papua New Guinea Government backed the restart throughout 2023 and the mine was able to pour first gold in February 2024, with Prime Minister James Marape on hand to witness the milestone.

“Today marks a significant moment where we are witnessing New Porgera Limited’s first gold pour and stamping of the first gold bar,” Marape said at the time.

“This first gold pour is the outcome of the [Papua New Guinea] Government, New Porgera Limited, Enga Provincial Government, and mine-affected communities working together. This is teamwork.”

Enga landowners, the Enga Provincial Government and the state will receive a combined equity share of 51 per cent from Porgera. A three per cent royalty has also been included for landowners, a step up from the previous five per cent.

In the energy sector, the PNG LNG project is ramping up, with Santos selling its five per cent stake to Kumul Petroleum.

The $US19 billion liquified natural gas project is an integrated development that includes gas production and processing facilities that extend from the Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Gulf provinces to Port Moresby in Central Province.

As Papua New Guinea’s national oil and gas company, Kumul is already an existing partner in the PNG LNG project.

These key projects, and much more, will be among the top discussion points at the 2024 PNG Expo, the safest and strongest place to network, share ideas and learn more about what companies are doing in these spaces.

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