PAPUA New Guinea and Indonesia signed off on a record 11 memoranda of understanding (MoU) for closer cooperation between the two countries in 2015, the Mineral and Resources Authority of PNG (MRA) said.

The MoUs covered air transport arrangement, workers exchange, education and training, and petroleum and energy.

A follow up MoU was signed by the MRA and the Geological Agency of Indonesia (GAI), Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia on 15 April 2015.

This MoU is for technical cooperation in geosciences and associated fields, the MRA said.

Aiming to provide a framework for the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge and to improve both countries’ capability in geoscientific research, the MoU partnership became effective as of the date of signing and will remain in force for five years.

MRA managing director Philip Samar and geotechnical mapping and hydrogeology
branch manager Gabriel Kuna travelled to Bandung in Indonesia to sign the MoU with their Indonesian counter parts.

Under the MoU, the following geoscience projects along the PNG/Indonesian border area will be conducted: an exchange of scientific and technical information, an exchange of research and technical staff, carrying out joint research, provision of training for research fellows participating in joint research activities and the holding of joint workshops, conferences and lectures and other forms of collaborative activities that will be of mutual benefit.

The MRA said the initial areas of cooperation identified are: methods and technology of geological mapping, basic geoscientific research including geophysics, energy, groundwater and mineral resources assessment, geohazards and environmental studies, application of geographic information in geology and capacity building.

“Our countries are hosts to some of the largest untapped mineral resources in the world. By cooperating with each other and sharing knowledge, skills and geodata, we can transform these resources into tangible benefits for our respective countries,” Mr Samar said at the signing ceremony.

Mr Samar paid tribute to the foresight and leadership by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in 2013 and clarified that the MRA was giving technical effect to implementing the MoUs signed off by Prime Minister O’Neill and his then counterpart from Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the MRA said.

Mr Samar pledged the MRA’s support and commitment to the partnership.

GAI head Surono said the MoU would enhance and broaden relationships and knowledge in geoscience exploration for the benefit of both countries.

Cooperation between PNG and Indonesia in geoscience aspects would encourage both countries in exploring the geological resources wealth that both countries possess, Dr Surono added.