Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape said that Barrick Niugini joint venture is set to remain as operator of the Porgera gold mine following talks in Port Moresby.

The Porgera gold mine is located in Enga Province, about 600km north west of Port Moresby.

Barrick Niugini, which is jointly owned by Barrick Gold and China-based Zijin Mining, owns a 95% stake in the Porgera Joint Venture that owns the Porgera gold mine.

In April, PNG government said it will take control of the Porgera gold mine after refusing to extend Barrick Gold’s special mining lease over the facility.

Marape had then refused the extension citing environmental concerns.

This had led Barrick Niugini to mount legal challenges, Reuters reported.

In a statement after talks with Barrick Gold Chief Executive Mark Bristow, the news agency quoted Marape as stating: “We have agreed in principle that Papua New Guinea will take a major share of equity under the new arrangements and BNL will retain operatorship and there will be a fair sharing of the economic benefits.”

Barrick and Zijin each hold 47.5% stake in Porgera.

The remaining stake of 5% is owned by Mineral Resource Enga, a consortium between the Enga provincial government (2.5%) and the Porgera landowners (2.5%).

Reuters quoted Bristow as saying: “I am certain that my team will be able to work with the PNG state negotiation team… in finalising full commercial details.”