High social, environmental standards seen as key

PAPUA New Guinea needs to ensure high social and environmental standards in the resource sector, says Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker.

Barker said projects invariably hade impacts, both in extraction and waste management.

“PNG’s natural environment is internationally recognised, including the need to safeguard the welfare of local communities living downstream from resource projects, with their dependence also on the river, and marine life, food gardens and forests,” he said.

“Rigorous assessments and application of high standards are a must.

“However, it is the waste of time and resources spent with an inefficient and uncoordinated bureaucracy, and unstable policy environment, which pushes up costs, while providing no associated benefits for the country, yet raising costs and, therefore, reducing potential benefits to PNG and its resource owners, as well as to the investors.”

Barker said there were companies making sound returns in PNG’s extractive resource sector.

“With the relatively high prices and sound prospects for some commodities from gold, some greener energy minerals like copper, nickel and cobalt, as well as for gas since last February and in the shorter-medium run,” he said.

“Several major resource projects are reaching the end of their operating lives.

“But with perceived extensions possible from adjoining resources and even in Bougainville, consideration of re-opening of the controversial major mine is sought by various stakeholders, but again different perspectives and the need for community consensus add to uncertainty.

“Some of the smaller and recent developed mines seem to have shown a successful and entrepreneurial path forward but also readily engaging with government and landowners, and contributing taxes, and perhaps showing a positive way forward which could be emulated by bigger firms.”

Source: The National PNG

Posted in: Papua New Guinea

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