Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum president, Geria Aopi, had plenty to discuss at the Sydney Investment Conference.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum president, Geria Aopi, had plenty to discuss at the Sydney Investment Conference.

PAPUA New Guinea’s mining industry has welcomed comments from the country’s Prime Minister that he will not be making any changes to the Mining Act prior to the upcoming election.

Speaking at the recent PNG Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, confirmed that the current government will not be introducing a new Mining Act.

The Prime Minister said any changes to the legislation in support of the resources sector must be introduced carefully and with full consultation with all stakeholders.

“Our aim is to achieve a fair deal for our people, both landowners directly impacted, and also the country as a whole, and this has been the driving force behind the proposed changes,” the Prime Minister told Conference delegates.

“I know that many have worked tirelessly to develop the draft Act, both from Government and from industry.

“I thank you for engaging with each other so honestly and openly.

“I want to state categorically that there will be no changes to the Mining Act prior to the 2017 National Election.

“It is only right that the new Parliament be granted the mandate to carry forward any changes to the existing Mining legislation.

“Again, I stress that industry will be fully consulted.

“Any change to the Act will ensure there are equal benefits for landowners and Provincial Governments.”

The Prime Minister said the Government’s recent decision to give 33% of direct shares in the Ok Tedi mine to landowners and the provincial government, and the 17.4% of BCL shares to landowners, is a clear indicator of its desire to share benefits through this policy.

The PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum has welcomed the PM’s comments.

The Chamber’s president, Gerea Aopi, said the industry is committed to working with the Government to ensure PNG has a modern, internationally competitive mining legislation that will underpin a world class industry and attract continued investment to PNG for the benefit of all stakeholders, importantly the communities and the Government.

Prime Minister O’Neill addresses the PNG Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference in Sydney.

Prime Minister O’Neill addresses the PNG Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference in Sydney.

“As the PNG economy is going through weak economic conditions, the importance of maintaining a viable resource industry and attracting new investment becomes paramount,” Mr Gerea said.

The Chamber is committed to working with government in a bipartisan approach to address issues affecting the resource industry, including the Mining Act and changes to the taxation regime introduced in the 2017 Budget. Mr Aopi indicated the industry’s commitment to this process to see a win-win outcome. “What we need is investor friendly policies and laws to support economic growth,” he added.

The Chamber says a stable government policies and a favourable investment climate are critical for future growth within PNG’s resource sectors. Stability in the fiscal, legislative and regulatory regime underwrote the robust period of growth enjoyed by PNG’s resource sectors during the period of high commodity prices from 2003 to 2012.