The Progera Gold Project: Development of a Resource, Resource for Development?

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1997
The Porgera gold project is now in its seventh year of operation as one of the world's prime gold mining projects in one of the most underdeveloped and remote regions of the world. The unique gold deposit was development in stages to its present size of operation with an underground mine of 2000tpd, an open pit operation moving 210,000tpd and a complex metallurgical plant treating an average of 16,500tpd of ore. During the past years the operation had to address an array of issues relating to the "development" of the region and this is still ongoing. Development means different things to different people and though the parties that signed the different agreements relating to the Mining Development Contract were aware of this, none has real- ised the extent to which this is true. The developing company (a joint venture between Placer Pacific as the Manager, Goldfields Porgera, Highlands Gold and the Government of PNG), provided funds for risky exploration and the capital for development of the project. Its shareholders ex- pect an economic and viable mine operation from the deposit to ensure them returns on their investment. The local people gave up their land, their isolated way of living and accepted to be out of their comfort zone for some time in anticipation of a better lifestyle and economic benefits in support of that lifestyle. The PNG Government has a leg in both camps and expects both outcomes at the same time. The Government is also the regulator and expects compliance on top of that. If development in general is to be successful, all parties must substantially satisfy all expectations. It is evident that the outcome of some elements of development are reasonably defined (i.e. develop a viable mine to exploit the deposit), whilst other elements are moving targets (i.e. a better lifestyle). The seeds for conflict are thus abundantly present and to resolve them requires the will of all parties in all areas to come to a solution. This path to problem solving is many times torturous as each party comes from a different culture and background and has a different understanding of the parameters in the equation.
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