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Papua New Guinea eyeing bigger stake in Barrick/Zijin's Porgera gold JV

Papua New Guinea is seeking a larger stake in the Porgera gold mine as part of talks with Barrick Gold Corp. and Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. to renew the project's lease, Reuters reported, citing Wera Mori, the country's commerce minister.

Under the current structure Barrick and Zijin Mining own 47.5% of the Porgera mine each, while landowner group Mineral Resources Enga holds the remaining 5%. The operation is pegged to produce between 240,000 ounces and 260,000 ounces of gold this year.

According to Mori, a portion of the stakes held by Barrick and Zijin Mining will be distributed to landowners, as well as to the national and provincial governments. The final stakes to be held by the Barrick/Zijin Mining consortium will be determined over the course of the negotiations.

The lease for the Porgera operation recently expired, but the mine is allowed to continue production while a 20-year extension for the lease is being hammered out.

The proposed changes are part of measures under the administration of Prime Minister James Marape to secure a better share of the benefits from the country's natural resources.

Mori said the country intends to keep more of the commodities as it seeks to bolster its economy. "We are in the process of developing the framework to retain at least 30% of our gold that we export every year," he said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea is considering the implementation of a gold standard for the kina — the local currency — which is currently pegged to the U.S. dollar.