|Country||Papua New Guinea|
|Production||572,600 ounces gold,|
94,764 ounces silver
|Company||Porgera Joint Venture (PJV):|
95% Barrick Gold,
5% Mineral Resources Enga (MRE)
|Website||Barrick Gold Corp Website|
The Porgera Gold Mine is a large gold and silver mining operation in near Porgera, Enga province, Papua New Guinea (PNG), located at the head of the Porgera Valley. The mine is situated in the rain forest covered highlands at an altitude of 2,200 to 2,700 m, in a region of high rainfall, landslides, and frequent earthquakes.
The Porgera Gold Mine is currently closed (from April 2020), following loss of its mining license. Negotiations on re-opening continue.
The Porgera Gold Mine is operated by the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV).
Porgera Gold Mine is the second largest mine in Papua New Guinea and is regarded as one of the world's top ten producing gold mines. In 2009, it produced 572,595 ounces of gold and 94,764 ounces of silver and had 2,500 employees and 500 contractors. Since it began operating, the mine has produced more than 16 million ounces of gold and almost 3 million ounces of silver, accounting for about 12 percent of Papua New Guinea's total exports. The mine's proven and probable mineral reserves as of 2009 amount to 8.1 million ounces of gold.
Porgera Gold Mine has consistently been criticized for environmental and human rights issues. Its internal investigations have revealed that killings, brutal gang rapes, and beatings have been carried out by mine security personnel.
It began production in 1990 and was developed and operated by Placer Dome, which was acquired in 2006 by Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold mining company at that time. Emperor Gold Mine, holding a minority stake of 20%, was sold to Barrick in April 2007. This gave Barrick (Niugini) a 95% ownership of the operation. The remaining 5% is owned by Mineral Resources Enga (MRE), which the Enga Provincial Government owns, the Papua New Guinea National Government, and the Porgera Landowners Association. Barrick Gold Corporation and Zijin Mining Group each own 50% of Barrick (Niugini) Ltd.
In 2020 the Papua New Guinea government decided not to renew Barrick Gold's lease on the mine, prompting Barrick to sue the government within Papua New Guinea and at an international tribunal. The government backed down after negotiating a greater ownership stake in the joint venture.
Porgera Gold Mine began operation in 1990. Originally an underground operation, open-pit mining became increasingly important after 1993, temporarily putting an end to underground mining in 1997. Starting in 2002, the mine utilised both open-pit and underground mining methods for ore extraction. The site of the last open pit to be excavated was Mt Waruwari.
When operating, the open pit mine could move up to 160,000 tonnes of rock material and gold-bearing ore daily, and the underground mine over 2,000 tonnes. Ore was processed in a mainly conventional plant, utilising several SAG and Ball mills, four Autoclaves, floatation cells and CIP / CIL. Gravity recovery was also used, with Knelson concentrators used for primary recovery, and an Acacia Reactor treating the concentrate. A large fleet of Cat 777 and Cat 789 trucks were used on the surface, fed by O&K shovels, and smaller excavators and loaders. A collection of underground development and production drilling equipment was used to break ground, which was bogged by Elphinstone RH series LHD's into a fleet of Elphinstone AD45 trucks.
Management and employees
The management approach to community relations changed when Barrick Gold took ownership from Placer Dome, which was quickly followed by the termination of the community relations staff that Placer Dome has employed. The new approach to community relations was described as "more viscous" and "more cruel" by journalist Richard Poplak the Canadaland podcast in 2022.
Although the mine is nominally a joint venture, it is managed by Barrick Gold personnel, who are employed on a fly in fly out basis. In July 2007, all departmental managers were white, and non-PNG origin. None of the management team lives in the Porgera region, and all are accommodated in the mine's camp facilities.
The mine has an extensive training and education program, offering diverse traineeships and apprenticeships to locals. This has resulted in many people gaining the necessary skills for employment at the Porgera mine and other mining operations in Papua New Guinea and other countries.
In 2009, out of 2,427 employees at the mine, 93.49% were PNG nationals, 1,606 were Porgerans, 33 other Engans, 630 other PNG nationals, and 158 were expatriates.
The mine was originally one of the world's major low-cost gold producers, but operating costs have increased. In 2004 it produced over one million ounces of gold at a cash cost of US$192 per ounce. Its output fell to about 865,000 ounces in 2005, and has reached 572,595 ounces of gold at cash costs of US$515 per ounce in 2009. With its 2,500 employees and 500 contractors it is one of the largest gold mines in Papua New Guinea and Australasia, and is widely regarded as one of the world's top ten producing gold mines.
|1990||265,890 ounces||224,227 ounces||2000||910,434 ounces||110,276 ounces|
|1991||1,216,101 ounces||593,312 ounces||2001||760,622 ounces||113,043 ounces|
|1992||1,485,077 ounces||139,619 ounces||2002||641,811 ounces||126,772 ounces|
|1993||1,156,670 ounces||129,860 ounces||2003||851,920 ounces||164,691 ounces|
|1994||1,032,768 ounces||133,890 ounces||2004||1,019,746 ounces||185,336 ounces|
|1995||848,870 ounces||90,770 ounces||2005||867,925 ounces||157,740 ounces|
|1996||854,822 ounces||106,535 ounces||2006||523,358 ounces||104,238 ounces|
|1997||712,693 ounces||100,479 ounces||2007||513,177 ounces||79,561 ounces|
|1998||726,806 ounces||91,614 ounces||2008||632,603 ounces||90,610 ounces|
|1999||754,754 ounces||100,694 ounces||2009||572,595 ounces||94,764 ounces|
|Total 1990–2009||16,348,642 ounces||2,938,031 ounces|
The mine has had a large impact on its immediate local area. While modern health care and education services have been brought to the valley by the mine, and some members of the community have profited from the mine's presence; alcoholism, lawlessness and illegal mining have all increased.
In 2022, Canadaland featured journalist Richard Poplak who criticized the mine for providing buildings but not maintenance or staff, analyzing that the modest investment in the local community would not last; Poplak described the community investment as "ghost whok". The town of Pogera was described as "hell" and a "dump ground". Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada spoke about how mountains of dumped tailings blocked passage between communities and polluted rivers.
Civil unrest April – May 2007
On 23 April 2007, local landowner groups protesting over proposed relocation settlements were successful in peacefully halting mining and processing operations at the mine. The suspension lasted for ten days, during which various local landowner clans, PNG government representatives, and PJV mine management eventually agreed on how best to move on.
Human rights issues
The mine employs its security force, numbering between 400 and 500 persons. Some sections of the security forces are licensed to utilize lethal force. Police and security guards have killed eight people (the company's figures) to 14 people (according to a community association) over the past ten years and injured many more. In 2009 rising insecurity around the mine led the government of Papua New Guinea to deploy several squads of mobile policemen to Porgera. According to Amnesty International, the deployment resulted in the eviction of nearby villagers and the burning of their houses.
Human Rights Watch investigated and documented reports of abuse, including brutal gang rapes and beatings, carried out by security personnel at the mine. After having denied previous claims of crimes committed at the mine, Barrick Gold launched an internal investigation which confirmed the findings.
In 2022 Canadaland reported hundreds of rapes undertaken by employed security contractors, and starting in 2003 or 2004 a policy of using sexual violence as a means to deter people from salvaging for gold on around the mine. Canadaland quoted Akali Tange's 2005 report The Shooting Fields of Porgera Joint Venture which documents allegations of murder of local residents by mine security contractors.
After acknowledging the history of sexual violence perpetrated by guards at the mine in 2010, Barrick Gold set up a compensation scheme and paid 119 survivors of sexual violence approximately CAD$8,000 per person on the condition that they agreed not to sue Barrick Gold.
The mine has, for many years, been severely contaminating the Porgera River, adjacent rivers, and the Gulf of Papua. The mine practises riverine tailings disposal, by which processed ore is dumped directly into the local river. This increases sediment loading by approximately 8 million tonnes per year. Additionally, the mine has two 'Erodible Dumps' – areas where soft waste rock are dumped, and the high amount of local rainfall gradually washes into the local rivers. The increase in sediment loading is hard to quantify but is generally thought to be in the range of 4 to 6 million tonnes per year. The river systems eventually deliver hundreds of millions of tonnes of sediment into the Gulf of Papua.
The main concern with riverine tailings disposal as practiced by the PJV is not the quantities of sediment, but the toxicity of the tailings, which contains significant quantities of cyanide, mercury and other heavy elements. The mercury is 'fixed' in a compound state by which it is thought will not ultimately enter the food chain, but no conclusive research has been performed. However, the mine has been certified as fully compliant with the International Cyanide Management Code.
The mine also has three vast dumps of waste rock—stone with quantities of gold ore too low to be processed economically.
In January 2009, Norway's finance ministry announced that the Government Pension Fund of Norway excluded Barrick Gold from its investments due to the “severe environmental damage” caused by the Porgera Gold Mine, stating that “the company’s riverine disposal practice is in breach of international norms [and] the company’s assertions that its operations do not cause long-term and irreversible environmental damage carry little credibility [and that there is] reason to believe that the company’s unacceptable practice will continue in the future.”
The local body, which was established to represent the landowners around the mine, the Porgera Landowners Association (PLOA), is funded by a percentage of royalties from the mine, receiving $1.4 million in 2009. However, the PLOA refuses to publish its accounts, and many landowners accuse the leadership of the PLOA of lining their own pockets at the expense of ordinary landowners. As a result, the mine negotiates with individual landowners direct rather than through the PLOA as intended.
- In August 1994, eleven workers were killed when a blast destroyed the Dyno Wesfarmers explosives factory at the Porgera Gold Mine. The explosion left a crater 40 meters wide and 15 meters deep, damaging property up to 2 kilometers away. The cause of the accident was never determined.
- On 3 March 2012, five people were killed and at least one person was injured in a routine blast at the mine. Police said the victims had entered the mine illegally to search for gold. The three survivors were arrested and charged with trespassing.
- "Mining for the Future. Appendix I: Porgera Riverine Disposal Case Study" (PDF). Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). April 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- "Porgera community eager to sign mine deal". Archived from the original on 2022-08-17. Retrieved 2023-02-01.
- "MINING #7 - Barrick and the Cruelty of Gold". CANADALAND. Archived from the original on 2022-03-18. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
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- Rennie, David W.; Collins, Stuart E.; Altman, Kathleen Ann (March 16, 2012). BARRICK GOLD CORPORATION - TECHNICAL REPORT ON THE PORGERA JOINT VENTURE, ENGA PROVINCE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (PDF) (Report). ROSCOE POSTLE ASSOCIATES INC. Retrieved April 30, 2023.
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- "Porgera resumes operations" Post-Courier 3 May 2007
- Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Sunday, June 04, 2006 – Canadian mine in New Guinea 'a shooting field' – Papuan villagers killed scavenging for gold: the company says they were often violent Archived May 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "MiningWatch Canada, Newsletter 21: Saturday April 8, 2006 – Placer Dome Admits to Killings at Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea". Archived from the original on October 3, 2006. Retrieved May 10, 2007.
- "Amnesty International, "Undermining Rights: Forced Evictions and Police Brutality Around the Porgera Gold Mine, Papua New Guinea," February 2010". Archived from the original on 2014-03-11. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
- Akali Tange Association Ing (2005). "The Shooting Fields of Porgera Joint Venture" (PDF). MiningWatch Canada. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-01-20. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
- "Cyanide Management: Porgera, Plutonic gold mines certified". Canadian Mining Journal. 15 November 2009. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012.
- "To the Ministry of Finance. Recommendation of 14 August 2008" (PDF). Government Pension Fund – Global. 14 August 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 February 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
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- Barrick Gold Corp Website
- Porgera Environmental Advisory Komiti's (PEAK) website
- Health concerns from Porgera Mine
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- Oxfam Mining Ombudsman Annual Report 2000–2001
- Gold’s Costly Dividend. Human Rights Impacts of Papua New Guinea’s Porgera Gold Mine. Human Rights Watch, February 2011
- Kelly Patterson: A deadly clash of cultures. A sprawling Canadian mine in Papua New Guinea has become a war zone, with hundreds of villagers facing off against more than 450 security guards and police in a bloody battle over the gold on the slopes of the Porgera Valley. The Ottawa Citizen, 5 June 2006