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Papua New Guinea entity seeks talks with Barrick over mine restart -report

Sept 2, (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea’s Kumul Minerals Holdings Ltd is open to talks with Canada’s Barrick Gold and its joint venture partner to restart production at a highlands gold mine, the state-owned miner’s chairman said, according to a report on Wednesday.

The overture follows this week’s dismissal by Papua New Guinea’s National Court of Barrick’s request for a review of the government’s earlier refusal to extend Barrick’s lease at the remote Porgera mine.

Barrick has said it would appeal the ruling while challenging an apparent move by PNG Prime Minister James Marape to grant a new lease to Kumul Minerals.

“My hope is that we can engage quickly and find a way forward,” Kumul Minerals chairman and acting managing director Peter Graham told The National newspaper in PNG.

The dispute over the lease has stopped production at Porgera, which last year turned out nearly 600,000 ounces of gold.

It comes at a time when investor nerves over the COVID-19 crisis have sent gold prices to record highs.

Kumul Minerals is seeking to restart operations while negotiating a longer-term deal that would see Barrick and its Chinese partner as equity participants and operator, Graham told the paper.

Graham, currently chief executive of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd and a former manager with Exxon Mobil, could not immediately be reached.

Barrick referred questions on Wednesday to a statement issued by Barrick Niugini Ltd (BNL) that reiterated plans “to legally challenge the purported grant.”

BNL operated Porgera as a joint-venture with China’s Zijin Mining Group . (Editing by Chris Reese)

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