In its bi-monthly issue, the PNG Chamber of Mining and Petroleum highlighted the drop in exploration investment, which has the potential to severely impact the country’s mining sector.
In a survey conducted by the Chamber, covering the period between 2012 and 2015, mineral exploration expenditure dropped from a peak of K944.3 million in 2011 to K325.5 million in 2015.
This followed a near decade of high activity from 2003 to 2011.
The Chamber adds despite feasibility studies for the Frieda River and increased exploration expenditure in 2015 for the Wafi-Golpu Project, the overall expenditure was still well below 2013 levels.
The downturn has already affected many rural Papua New Guineans through the loss of direct employment and potential new business opportunities, while businesses and suppliers have also lost much-needed income as a result of many junior exploration companies ceasing their operations.
During the Chamber’s annual general meeting, president Gerea Aopi said this concern is exacerbated by the proposed changes to the mining act.
“We have to make every endeavour to ensure that this downward trend does not continue, although we have little or no control over the global commodity price market,” Aopi said.
“What PNG can control is the fiscal and legal frameworks that directly impact this sector. Our aim must be to ensure PNG can continue to grow existing projects and also foster an environment conducive to attract new investments.”
Aopi further added that the lodgment of Special Mining Lease applications for Frieda River and Wafi Golpu projects last year is an indication of why PNG must maintain its investment attractiveness.
“These projects are very important to the PNG economy as existing mines like Ok Tedi, Porgera and Lihir are in mature stages.
“Both projects, when developed, will have positive economic impact for PNG and together with the operating mines, could place PNG as one of the top copper and gold producers in the world,” he said.