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The Canadian Press

Barrick Gold Corp has lost a court challenge in Papua New Guinea over rights to a highlands gold mine and intends to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court, the miner said on Tuesday, prolonging a dispute that has halted output as gold prices soar.

Papua New Guinea refused to extend Barrick’s lease over the remote Porgera mine in April, and this week the National Court dismissed Barrick’s request for a review of that decision.

“The company disagrees with numerous grounds outlined in the ruling,” the miner said on Tuesday in a statement issued by Barrick Niugini Ltd, which operated Porgera as a joint-venture between Barrick and China’s Zijin Mining Group.

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Barrick Niugini “intends to urgently appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court,” the statement said. It was not clear whether any appeal had yet been filed.

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 has sent the gold price to a record high.

Both sides appear to be settling in for a protracted fight.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, has said the lease was not extended owing to environmental and community concerns.

A new lease has been granted to Kumul Minerals Holding Ltd, a state-owned firm, he said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Barrick has said it will challenge that move, too, and it has launched a separate complaint with the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

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