Barrick Gold sends dispute notice to Papua New Guinea over Porgera mine

(Reuters) - Canadian miner Barrick Gold Corp said on Friday it served a dispute notice to the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government over the country’s refusal to extend a mining lease in the Porgera valley.

The company said the notice was sent by its subsidiary Barrick (PD) Australia Pty Limited, an investor in the Porgera mine, citing a violation in a bilateral investment treaty between PNG and Australia as well as international law governing foreign investment.

In April, Papua New Guinea’s government refused to extend Barrick’s expired lease on environmental and social concerns, prompting the company to trim its annual gold production forecast to 4.6 million-5.0 million ounces from an earlier 4.8 million-5.2 million ounces.

In May, the miner offered an extra 15% stake in the Porgera mine to local landowners, according to a letter from its CEO, in a bid to break an impasse with the national government over the mine’s future.

In a separate statement, Barrick’s joint venture partner Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd said on Friday the two companies have approached the World Bank’s International Centre to settle the dispute over the Porgera lease extension.

Barrick and China’s Zijin Mining Group each own 47.5% of the Porgera mine.

Reporting by Shradha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.