A Call for Local Ownership and Fairness


by
JUSTIN PARKER

In recent discussions surrounding the establishment of a gold refinery in Papua New Guinea (PNG), concerns have been raised regarding various aspects of the proposed project. Spearheaded by foreign investors, the initiative has sparked debates over ownership, exclusivity, tax concessions, underwriting, management rights, control over currency, legal protections, and historical failures. These concerns, if unaddressed, could potentially undermine the interests of PNG and its people, particularly the hardworking alluvial miners who form the backbone of the nation's mining sector.

At the heart of the issue lies the question of ownership. The proposed ownership structure, favoring foreign investors with a substantial 70% stake, raises eyebrows, especially considering PNG's past experiences with failed ventures like seabed mining. Instead of ceding majority control to foreign entities, many argue that PNG should assert full ownership over the refinery. With the country's financial capabilities and the lessons learned from previous setbacks, PNG stands in a position to take charge of its resources and investments.

Exclusivity clauses in the proposed project have also drawn criticism. Granting foreign-owned companies exclusive rights for lengthy periods, with the possibility of renewals, threatens to monopolize the market and disadvantage local miners. Such arrangements, reminiscent of historical exploitation, risk perpetuating inequities and hindering the growth of small-scale mining operations in PNG.

Moreover, concerns have been raised regarding tax concessions offered to foreign entities. At a time when PNG grapples with mounting debts and foreign exchange challenges, granting substantial tax breaks to a foreign monopoly seems counterintuitive and shortsighted. The economic repercussions of such concessions could further strain the country's financial stability.

Additionally, the proposition for PNG to underwrite the project, assuming liabilities in the event of failures, poses significant risks. Not only does this place undue financial burdens on the country, but it also diminishes local control over the project's operations and outcomes.

Furthermore, the granting of management rights to foreign investors, coupled with PNG's underwriting of their failures, raises questions about the project's governance and accountability. Allowing foreigners to dictate management decisions while PNG assumes the risks is a disconcerting prospect that undermines local sovereignty and autonomy.

The project's potential impact on PNG's currency and economic policies cannot be overlooked. Entrusting control of the country's monetary system to foreign entities poses risks to national sovereignty and economic stability, jeopardizing PNG's long-term interests.

Equally troubling is the proposal to create a separate police unit controlled by foreign investors to protect their interests. Such measures could undermine local law enforcement and regulatory frameworks, further entrenching foreign dominance in the sector.

Moreover, the proposed legal protections for the project raise concerns about transparency and accountability. By superseding existing laws and limiting future legislative oversight, the project could potentially shield foreign investors from scrutiny and perpetuate inequalities in resource management.

In light of these concerns, it is imperative for PNG to revisit the proposed gold refinery project and prioritize local ownership and fairness. Drawing lessons from past failures, such as the Metal Resource Operation (MRO), PNG should explore alternative approaches that empower local stakeholders and safeguard the interests of alluvial miners.

By investing in cost-effective alternatives, such as minting its own coins and bars, PNG can assert greater control over its resources while promoting economic development and self-sufficiency. Collaboration with experts and stakeholders, including individuals like Justin Parker, who advocate for the welfare of alluvial miners, is essential in charting a path forward that benefits PNG and its people.

In conclusion, the fight against the proposed Gold Refinery and Bullion Bill should continue until PNG secures full ownership of the project and ensures equitable benefits for all stakeholders, particularly the hardworking alluvial miners who contribute significantly to the nation's economy. It is only through collective efforts and a commitment to fairness and transparency that PNG can realize its full potential and thrive in the global mining industry.

Please watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKnD5J_u_rk

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