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Country needs to capitalize on own resources

By Patrick Talu PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 8, 2010) – Mining Minister John Pundari says he wants to see Papua New Guinea (PNG) build and own an onshore gold refinery to refine gold produced by its various mines.

He told mining investors at the mining and petroleum conference in Sydney that it was time for a big gold refinery because current mining activities warranted it.

Pundari told the conference he was looking at the prospects of preparing necessary legislation for the National Executive Council to pave way for the refinery to be constructed.

"For far too long, the government and people of Papua New Guinea did not know the real values of gold bars produced and how many ounces are taken out of the country and refined offshore, he told The National. I want to provide the leadership in supporting the establishment of an internationally accredited gold refinery operation in PNG, through public-private partnership, to process all gold mined in the country. I believe that we are mere custodians of the collective wealth of our nation," Pundari said.

He reaffirmed Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare’s earlier address that the government

had committed itself to a complete review and overhaul of the mineral policy legislation to ensure the interest of all stakeholders, including the people, within the resources sector were protected and that optimal benefit were gained from the extraction of Papua New Guinea’s mineral resources.

Pundari said he also wanted to provide leadership by creating a level playing field for all players within the mining sector and deliver a robust strategic plan to bring on-stream advanced and prospective projects as soon as possible.

He reiterated that he would encourage state-owned entities, such as Petromin, to exercise greater state equity option in the new mines coming on stream and to be involved more in new explorations.

The three-day mining conference will end today.


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