Barrick Gold Corp will reduce power supply to townships near its Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea, the mine’s operator said on Thursday, to save costs amid a deepening standoff with the government over mining rights.
Canada’s Barrick, the world’s second-biggest gold miner, was refused an extension of its expired lease on the mine in April, with the government citing unrest and pollution concerns.
It stopped production and said in a statement from mine operator Barrick (Niugini) Ltd that “due to necessary cost reductions” electricity the mine provides free to nearby communities would from Friday only be supplied for 12 hours a day.
Barrick is challenging the lease refusal and the reduction in power supply may increase pressure on the government to find a solution.
Barrick and China’s Zijin Mining Group each own 47.5% of the Porgera mine and last week approached the World Bank’s International Centre to try to settle the dispute.
A spokesman for PNG Prime Minister James Marape had no immediate response on Thursday. Marape has previously said the government intended to operate the mine itself.