THE PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum is encouraging more landowner and local companies to diversify their operations, and expand outside of project areas to be more competitive and sustainable.

Speaking at the APEC MSME & Innovation Summit in Port Moresby, the president of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Gerea Aopi, said the resource industry had helped to establish many of PNG’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which now employ more than 20,000 people across the country, with significantly more jobs created by other PNG local companies that rely on the resource industry.

Porgera Landowner Company

“Landowner companies are important because they economically empower communities and locals, provide employment and training, and directly benefit families as well, helping to reduce dependency on royalties,” Mr Aopi said.

“Resource companies invest heavily in establishing, and providing necessary governance and administrative support to landowner companies.

“With this ongoing support, many landowner companies have been able to diversify their business portfolios and expand to other parts of the country, including outside of PNG.

“As a Chamber, this is what we would like to see happen with other landowner companies so that they can be sustainable when a mine, or oil and gas project winds down or ceases to operate.

“The diversification of their businesses has also helped their communities and their local shareholders gain additional return,” Mr Aopi said.

Landowner and local companies are important to mining and oil and gas companies, as they provide a wide range of services including labour hire, janitorial services, catering, security, earth moving, freight and logistics, and transportation.

“The resource industry in PNG is a significant economic driver – contributing a sizeable chunk of its Gross Domestic Product, and providing many other socio-economic benefits,” he said.

“Gender inclusiveness has also been advanced by resource projects, by making sure women in communities participate equally. This is to ensure women and children also benefit from the project and any business spin-offs.”

Other speakers at the forum included Stephanie Copus-Campbell, Executive Director of Oil Search Foundation, who explained the ‘shared value’ proposition whereby resource companies invest in long-term development outcomes that benefit both the business and the local communities.

“Oil Search Foundation focuses on health; education and leadership, and empowering and protecting women” said Ms Copus-Campbell.

“If our people are healthy, if we can educate and develop PNG’s future leaders, and if we help PNG’s best and brightest – men and women –  contribute fully to society, that is good for our workforce, it’s good for business and of course it helps to grow stronger, safer and happier communities.”

David Wissink, general manager Community Relations for the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV) also highlighted the extensive work the project is doing to unlock the agribusiness potential of Morobe Province.

“Even though the Wafi-Golpu project is still at permitting stage, we have been working with over 1000 families in Morobe to turn cocoa into a profitable enterprise.  Within four years of starting the project, those growers travelled to Paris to be awarded a prize in a world chocolate competition. If the Wafi-Golpu project proceeds, the new roads and bridges that we will build will connect 100,000 hectares of arable land into new markets,” Mr Wissink said.