Papua New Guinea boasts a wealth of natural resources, including oil, natural gas, copper, gold, silver, nickel and cobalt. Its mining sector currently contributes approximately 25% to the country's GDP. However, with worldwide demands for these resources on the rise, mining companies operating in Papua New Guinea face multiples challenges affecting their economic, societal and environmental performance. This overview examines the mining initiatives underway in Papua New Guinea.
The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is located in Melanesia, a region in the southwest Pacific Ocean north of Australia. This territory occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, as well as surrounding islands.
In the center of Oceania, Papua New Guinea is abundant in its natural resources, similar to neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Caledonia.
- Gain insight into the mining sector of Papua New Guinea through a brief historical overview
- Many major mining-related projects in PNG
- The Complexities of Mining Projects in Papua New Guinea
- Papue New Guinea for Easy Skill
Gain insight into the mining sector of Papua New Guinea through a brief historical overview
Mining in Papua New Guinea has a rich history, dating back to the 1930s with gold mining on Lihir Island. Over time, the industry has gained momentum and attracted foreign investors, such as Australian and Canadian mining companies, thanks to the discovery of copper and gold deposits at Ok Tedi and Porgera in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, Papua New Guinea's government took steps to regulate the mining industry, including the creation of a mining authority and the implementation of legislation to safeguard the nation's interests.
In 2020, Papua New Guinea ranked as the 13th largest gold producer in the world, with a production of approximately 89 tonnes. Of significance, its production of copper, nickel, and cobalt has also become increasingly important, due to the growing global demand for these materials in the manufacturing of next-generation batteries, electronics, electric motors, and turbines.
Many major mining-related projects in PNG
Apart from the substantial progress in the oil and gas industries due to Exxon Mobile's (PNG Liquified Natural Gas) and TotalEnergies' major projects, various manufacturers are also involved in several mining projects.
In the last 10 years, the nation has witnessed a surge in development and an abundance of economic prospects.
Discover the latest mining projects currently underway in Papua New Guinea :
- The Wafi-Golpu Project is a joint venture between Newcrest Mining (Australia) and Harmony Gold (South Africa) located in the province of Morobe. As a gold and copper mine project, it operates at high altitude. Although the government approved the project in 2018, land ownership issues have caused delays that conflict with the interests of local people.
- The Frieda River Project is a promising undertaking, involving copper and gold mining in Northwest PNG, the operation of which is helmed by PanAust - a Chinese subsidiary. Currently in the developmental phase, production will commence in the coming years, making it a project worth keeping an eye on.
- The Porgera Project, a gold mine located in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, has been closed since 2020. This decision came after the government refused to renew the operating license of Barrick Niugini, the operating company responsible for the mine. The refusal was due to several environmental and social concerns.
- The Ramu Nico Project, situated at Madang province in Papua New Guinea's northern coast, is a high-yielding mining endeavour that produces both nickel and cobalt. The project is run by the acclaimed Chinese corporation, Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), and has been in operation since 2012.
- The Kainantu Project, situated in eastern Papua New Guinea, is a mining venture that consists of two deposits. K92 Mining, a Canadian mining firm, operates this project, which primarily produces gold and silver. The mining production at this project dates back to 2006.
- Operated by St Barbara Limited, an Australian mining company, the Simberi Project is a gold mining venture located on the pristine Simberi Island in the northernmost part of Papua New Guinea. Since its inception in 2008, the project has been one of the company's most significant gold mining operations, with several deposits contributing to its output.
- The Lihir Project is an island-based initiative situated in the Lihir archipelago, north of Papua New Guinea. It is managed by Newcrest Mining, an Australian gold-producing company. Since 1997, the project has been instrumental in delivering substantial gold production to the area.
The Complexities of Mining Projects in Papua New Guinea
Mining in Papua New Guinea (PNG) presents several challenges:
1 - Environmental issues :
Mining, if poorly regulated or controlled, has a negative impact on the environment, particularly in terms of soil, water and air pollution. Mining activities can also lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions, the destruction of biodiversity through deforestation and land degradation. The challenge for mining companies is therefore to rapidly integrate good environmental practices and deploy new industrial equipment to reduce their impact.
2 -Energy issues:
Effective regulation and control of mining activities is crucial to prevent environmental degradation through soil, water, and air pollution. These activities also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss due to deforestation and land degradation. Mining companies must strive to integrate sustainable practices to reduce their impact, which involves adopting cutting-edge industrial equipment and implementing environmentally-friendly policies.
3 - Energy issues :
As mining activity in Papua New Guinea (PNG) expands, the demand for energy is on the rise, straining local energy sources. In response, the government plans to launch several major energy projects including the building of gas-fired thermal power plants, solar farms, and hydropower development. These initiatives are crucial for meeting the growing energy demands while preserving the environment and benefiting local communities.
- Building relationships and fostering trade with local suppliers and industrialists.
- Developing the skills of local communities through specialized training centres, investing in education, and offering international mobility opportunities.
- Advancing infrastructure development in healthcare, transportation, and energy.
- Enhancing the fair distribution and sharing of land wealth with the local populations.
Papua New Guinea for Easy Skill
In the years to come, Papua New Guinea presents significant opportunities for Easy Skill due to rising demand for minerals like nickel, cobalt and rare earths - essential resources for the electronics industry and energy transition.
At Easy Skill's offices in Port Moresby, we provide expert support to major mining players in PNG's capital city :
- Local team training and skill development
- Facilitating international mobility to and from Papua New Guinea
- Recruitment of highly qualified personnel in mining to tackle upcoming industrial challenges.
If you're looking for industrial project support in Papua New Guinea, look no further than Easy Skill. Our team has extensive experience working on major projects for companies like TotalEnergies, Exxon Mobil, and Pagini Group, and we'd be happy to share our expertise with you. Don't hesitate to contact us to learn more.