Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | August 29, 2017
The PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) says access to resource extraction contracts and licences would be valuable to the country for transparency in the industry.
According to the PNGEITI 2014 Report, resource extraction contracts and licences remain confidential information despite interest groups seeking to change for greater transparency.
The report states that details of contracts and licences are protected by confidentiality provisions in Section 163 of the Mining Act, Section 51 of the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) Act and Section 159 of the Oil and Gas Act, which are held and maintained by the Solicitor General’s Office.
And without legislative amendments, agreements can only be made public with the approval of both the company and the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) or the MRA as appropriate.
The report states that no contract had been made publicly available to date. This is an issue which civil society organisations in particular seek to change in the interest of greater transparency.
“Specific clauses clarifying public access to the content of agreements signed by or with the State on resource projects would be valuable. Part 1 of the Mining Act however, provides for Constitutional limitations as the mining legislation is for the purpose of giving effect to the national interest,” states the report.
PNG EITI Head of National Secretariat, Lucas Alkan, said the Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) discussed issues relating to disclosure of resource agreements in recent meetings.
“We feel that mining companies may feel comfortable disclosing agreements, but that oil and gas companies, being more exposed to global market dynamics, may feel that agreement details would reveal their strategy, and would thus be more commercially sensitive,”Alkan said.
“But we are having constructive dialogues with companies on the information that could be disclosed and what may not be disclosed to the public due to commercial bearings to the detriment of a particular company.
“We hope to imbed such information in future EITI reporting as it is required under the EITI standard,” Alkan added.