Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine, Papua New Guinea

The cost of gold: extrajudicial killings, gang rapes and other depressing human rights abuses have marked the development of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine in Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea is a country rich in natural resources and holds large reserves of mineral ores such as gold and silver. The mining sector represents an important source of governmental revenues that contributes substantial shares to the national GDP. The Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine, located in Enga province, is the second largest mine in Papua New Guinea and among the ten most productive gold mines worldwide [1]. But the sector brings not only benefits – it comes with massive social and environmental costs as the depressing development of the Porgera Gold Mine has shown [2;3;4]. 

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Basic Data
NamePorgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine, Papua New Guinea
CountryPapua New Guinea
ProvinceEnga province
SiteLagaip-Porgera District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific CommoditiesGold
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPapua New Guinea’s mining sector represents a relevant source of governmental revenues. In 2002, the sector accounted for about 75% of the exports and 21% of GDP [2].

The open pit and underground mine is located in Enga province, in a designated Special Mining Lease (SML) area. The SML provides exclusive mining rights, but no rights to occupy or acquire land, which must be negotiated with the people [4]. The Special Mining Lease (SML) for the Porgera mine covered 2,200 ha (report from 2001, see [8]).

Mining activities started in 1990, when the mine was operated by Placer Dome [2]. The mine is now operated by Barrick Niugini Ltd., which owns 95% of the Porgera Joint venture (PJV) mine [9]. The remaining 5% is hold by Mineral Resources Enga, which is split between the Enga Provincial government (2.5%) and local landowners (2.5%). [9]. In 2011, About 95% of the Porgera mine was owned by Barrick Gold, a Canadian company that is among the world’s largest gold producers [4]. In 2015, Barrick Gold divested from the mine and sold 50% of its subsidiary company Barrick Niugini to China’s Zijin Mining group Co. for about 298 million USD. Since then, Barrick Gold owns 47.5% of the gold mine [9;10].

In 2010, PVG employed some 2,400 people [2].

In 2016, Barrick’s share of gold produced amounted to 234,000 ounces [9]. Barrick’s share of proven/provable gold reserves in the PGV amounts to 2,207,000 ounces (14,5 million tons, at a grading of 4.75 grams per tonne) [9]. Between 1990 and 2011, it has produced about 16 million ounces of gold [4]. PVG is projected to operate until 2023 [2].

A report from 2010 states that the mine discharges about six million tons of liquid mine tailings into the nearby river annually [2].

Population in the area has increased from 6,000 to somewhere between 30,000 – 50,000 (2010), due to population growth and migration from other areas [2].
Project Area (in hectares)2,200
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population6,000 -50,000
Start Date1990
Company Names or State EnterprisesBarrick Gold Corporation from Canada
Barrick Niugini Ltd. (BNL) from Papua New Guinea - operating company
Mineral Resources Enga Ltd from Papua New Guinea - Shareholder
ZiJin Mining Group Co. Ltd. from China - Shareholder
Placer Dome Inc. from Canada
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Papua New Guinea

Enga provincial government

Enga police force
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAkali Tange Association (ATA), https://sites.google.com/site/akalitange/

Porgera Alliance, http://www.porgeraalliance.net

Mining Watch Canada, https://miningwatch.ca/

Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/

Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.org/en/

Earth Rights International, https://www.earthrights.org/

Harvard and New York University Law schools, http://www.rightingwrongsporgera.com/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
International scientists; Ipili indigenous
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherHeavy metals (i.e. mercury) and chemicals (i.e. cyanide) released into the environment
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition
Otherexposure to mercury of small-scale miners; spread of sexually transmitted diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Violent targeting of activists
out-of-court settlements; some security staff was convicted of rape
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Conflicts around the mine go on. Damages are vast.
Sources and Materials

Papua New Guinea 1992 Mining Act and Regulation
[click to view]

Papua New Guinea Mineral Resources Authority Act 2005
[click to view]

Papua New Guinea Environment Act 2000
[click to view]


[2] Human Rights Watch 2010. Gold’s Costly Dividend: Human Rights Impacts of Papua New Guinea’s Porgera Gold Mine. New York, United States
[click to view]

[3] Amnesty International 2010. Undermining rights: Forced evictions and police brutality around the Porgera Gold Mine, Papua New Guinea. London, United Kingdom.
[click to view]

Enodo rights 2016. Pillar III on the Ground An Independent Assessment of the Porgera Remedy Framework (accessed 16.11.2017)
[click to view]

[11] Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic & Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic: RIGHTING WRONGS? BARRICK GOLD'S REMEDY MECHANISM FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA, Key Concerns and Lessons Learned. (accessed 16.11.2017)
[click to view]


[4] Human Rights Watch 2011. Papua New Guinea: Serious Abuses at Barrick Gold Mine,

Systemic Failures Underscore Need for Canadian Government Regulation. (accessed online 16.11.2017)
[click to view]

[5] ABC News 2015 (April, 8th). Barrick Gold compensates women raped at Papua New Guinea mine site in out-of-court settlement. (Accessed online 16.11.2017)
[click to view]

[8] Collaborative for Development Action (CDA) report 2001. Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mining operation. Available online (accessed 16.11.2017).
[click to view]

[9] Barrick Gold Homepage on the Porgera mine. (accessed 16.11.2017).
[click to view]

[10] Mining.com article from May 26th, 2015. Barrick sells 50% in Papua New Guinea unit to China's Zijin. (accessed 16.11.2017)
[click to view]

[1] Wikipedia - Porgera Gold Mine (accessed 16.11.2017)
[click to view]

[7] Barrick Gold response to ATA letter (2017, May 27).
[click to view]

Media Links

Human Rights Watch - Gold's Costly Dividend (video)
[click to view]

French documentary on the Porgera Mine
[click to view]

Other Documents

[6] Akali Tange Association (ATA) Inc. Letter to Barrick PJV from June 17th, 2016.
[click to view]

Protests against harmful impacts Soucrce: http://www.porgeraalliance.net/2017/07/hazardous-chemical-disposal-in-red-wara-river/
[click to view]

Residents petition government to intervene in unresolved issues Source: http://www.porgeraalliance.net/2015/02/porgera-landowners-petition-png-government-with-ultimatum-regarding-barricks-intention-to-sell-porgera-mine/
[click to view]

Violence and killings at the mine Source: http://www.porgeraalliance.net/2015/04/press-statement-victory-victims-of-abuse-receive-compensation/
[click to view]

Women searching for traces of gold in the mine tailings Foto Credit: Human rights watch (see [2])
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update17/11/2017