26 Jun 2012

PNG mining head reiterates need for economic diversity

7:10 pm on 26 June 2012

The executive director of Papua New Guinea's Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says the only way of guarding against fluctuating commodity prices is by diversifying the economy.

Greg Anderson's comment follows an announcement by the Swiss mining giant Xstrata that it plans to sell its 80 percent share in the Frieda River copper project in West Sepik.

Mr Anderson says PNG was fighting for recognition in a development portfolio that included big projects elsewhere and Xstrata's exit isn't indicative of investor concern about PNG as a place to do business.

But he says PNG still needs to lessen its reliance on the mining and gas industry, something successive governments have been unable to achieve.

"For instance widening the agricultural base, widening the tourist base. But unfortunately that's the way it still is at the moment and it's following a parallel trend to Australia. Australia's narrowed its base as well."

Greg Anderson says suggestions that PNG's political situation is making investors jittery are untrue.