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79 companies from 7 countries last year

By Eric Tapakau PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 13, 2010) - Papua New Guinea (PNG) remains attractive to the mining world despite the sentiments held by many critics as being "one of the worst countries to invest in".

To September last year, 79 mining companies from seven countries including Papua New Guinea, owned tenements in the country.

According to the Mining and Exploration Bulletin published by the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), up to September 2009, a total of 165 tenements were processed, 33 new exploration licenses granted, 46 new exploration licenses applications, 29 renewals lodged, one alluvial mining license application and one mining license granted.

Countries with companies linked to PNG’s mineral sector include Australia, Canada, China, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the USA.

Total mineral export receipts to the March quarter of 2009 was about 2 billion kina [US$717 million], 31 percent lower than the corresponding period of 2008. The lower income was due to lower commodity prices on the world market. According to the MRA Bulletin, significant changes to the fiscal regimes (since 2003) which are more investor friendly include income tax rate of 30 percent, dividend withholding tax of 10 percent, royalty of 2 percent on net smelter returns, fiscal stability is now available for financing period, no additional profits tax, no capital gains tax, 100 percent foreign company ownership allowed through exploration whereas in the past only PNG registered companies participated. "Despite the long history, geology and mineralization of the country is not yet fully understood," MRA said in its bulletin.

"It is good to know that, as companies explore more in their tenements, they discover new prospects not discovered by previous exploration programs. The Government will support any activities towards understanding the geology and discovery of minerals".

PNG has the potential to earn up to 600 million kina [US$215 million] every year from alluvial mining.

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