STANLEY ARURU PUNDIYE
| CEO, Kuimas Minerals Company Ltd
PORT MORESBY - While the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum pleads with the Papua New Guinea government to postpone reforms to the mining act, issues affecting resource owners are being ignored.
The changes to the mining act are being addressed by parliament to fix possible issues that may affect foreign investors.
It has been a step forward for the PNG government to move to take full ownership of mineral exploration in order to fully precipitate in equity contributions when the deposit is economic viable for mining;
However, a clear policy and a workable plan must be in place to fully implement the idea, including indications of where the money will come from to fully fund exploration activities and how this will assist the participation of grassroots village resource owners, on whose behalf I write.
PNG does not much need investors to do all the exploration work nor does PNG much need skills, equipment and a workforce of overseas labourers to begin and complete mining activities.
However, we know that experts are required and we know that this expertise can be hired to fill specialist positions.
Where we do not have the required equipment, it can be brought from overseas to do the work.
The transfer of mining wealth to the village level is very important in PNG so our country can generate wealth from the bottom up, thus strengthening the economy.
Yet nothing much has been indicated in the new act to address these needs and issues.
The government needs to provide a funding scheme for local and overseas exploration companies to boost exploration activities and encourage new resource finds.
This will particularly help local companies take part in exploration.
The government should invest in companies so, on behalf of the people, it will participate fully in equity and benefit when the inferred resources from exploration finally transform into mining.
This issue needs to be clarified in government policy so we begin to take real control of our own resources.
The Chamber of Mines and Petroleum must not only talk about issues that affect overseas investors but also bring forth ideas that will benefit the PNG government and local companies.
We need a two-side view.
When we allow foreign investors to do all the work that Papua New Guineans can do, we lose around 60-70% of the profits from mines that operate in PNG.
The ideas that the Chamber needs to bring forward is how to make PNG and its companies benefit from these profits so they will not be lost in future years.
My argument is that such ideas can only be realised if the government can identify funds for exploration work from the initial stage to the final identification of resources.
The Chamber thinks that the new act is a threat, but I think it is a win if only the government can develop appropriate policy and a strategic plan and then execute it.
If the government really wants to go ahead with a new act and implement the idea, then PNG will take ownership of many works, including any ideas that the Chamber brings forward.
The Kuimas Minerals Company is 100% owned by local resource owners of Kuimas in the Maramuni area of Enga Province.
The company was formed in 2016 to develop over nine minerals including platinum, carnelian, palladium, gold, silver and copper in nugget and ore form.
We believe PNG companies must participate in the resources sector to the fullest extent possible and that the government and the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum should be doing their utmost to encourage this.