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Prime minister of Papua New Guinea threatens to take over Barrick gold mine

Last Updated Apr 28, 2020 at 12:44 pm EDT

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape, left, signs the visitors' book at Australia's Parliament House in Canberra watched by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Monday, July 22, 2019. The prime minister of Papua New Guinea is threatening to take over a gold mine operated by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. after operations were suspended there last weekend in the midst of a dispute over renewal of its mining lease. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rod McGuirk

TORONTO — The prime minister of Papua New Guinea is threatening to take over a gold mine operated by Barrick Gold Corp. after operations were suspended there last weekend in the midst of a dispute over renewal of its mining lease.

In a social media post, Prime Minister James Marape warns Barrick “don’t fight me” as he urges the company to maintain the Pogera mining operation until negotiations result in an “agreed exit time.”

He adds in a side message to “PNGeans” that the world won’t end if Pogera closes.

On Friday, Toronto-based Barrick announced it will pursue all legal avenues to prevent what it’s calling the “nationalization without due process” of the mine in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Barrick, which is the operator, and Zijin Mining Group of China each own 47.5 per cent. Barrick says it applied for an extension of its mining lease in June 2017 but the government refused to comply and it expired last August.

In an announcement posted on its website Tuesday, Zijin warns that if a new agreement isn’t reached, prolonged production suspension of the mine will cause losses for all stakeholders.

“My letter will ask Barrick to continue operating the mine when we go through this phase, but if you sabotage or close the mine, you leave me no choice but to invoke orders to take over the mine,” said Marape in his Facebook post.

“Don’t fight me (I am in my country and I lose nothing), work with me for your ease of business during this transition and exit phase (you never know, negotiations may buy you extra mine operation time).”

Barrick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:ABX)

The Canadian Press

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