24 Oct 2013

PNG Govt takeover of Ok Tedi leads to job losses for SDP

9:04 am on 24 October 2013

The Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Programme Ltd says it has had to lay off workers and cancel major projects because of the financial problems it faces after the recent government take over of the Ok Tedi mine.

Last month, the government passed legislation enabling it to take over the remaining 63 percent of shares in the mine that it did not already hold.

These belonged to the SDP whose leadership accuses the state of stealing a lucrative asset from Western Province.

The Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says there's no reason for SDP to close down its projects because it has enough money in the Long Term Fund to finish all the projects.

But the chief executive of SDP David Sode says the rules of the fund dictate that money can only be drawn down when mine operations cease.

"But that hasn't happened yet so I'm not about to push my board down to go to jail in Singapore (where the long term fund is administered) for breaching trust rules that say as long as mining and milling activities are happening at Ok Tedi, you can't have the money. So whoever is advising the Prime Minister has some advice that I don't have."

The chief executive of SDP David Sode.