Papua New Guinea: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Topics Covered

Welcome to Papua New Guinea
Overview of Resources
Fossil Fuels

Welcome to Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is located in Oceania in the southwest Pacific Ocean and occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. The country covers an area of 462,840 km2, and has a total population of 6,310,129 as per 2012 estimates. It has slight seasonal temperature variation and tropical climate.

The national flag of Papua New Guinea.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook

The country has rich reserves of gold, silver, copper and natural gas. However, the rugged terrain, high cost for infrastructure development and land tenure issues have suppressed mineral exploitation in the country. The economy of the country is dependent on the export of mineral resources. The economic growth rate increased in 2010, when all the countries gradually recovered from the economic slowdown and as the global demand for mineral commodities increased. The GDP of the country increased by 7% to $15.68 billion in 2010 and was $17.08 billion in 2011.

Overview of Resources

The major mineral commodities produced in Papua New Guinea are silver, gold and copper. The economically important industrial minerals of the country include phosphate rock deposits, limestone, sulphur, silica, pozzolan, graphite, diatomite and asbestos. Other mineral resources which have not yet been fully explored include zinc, platinum-group elements, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, iron ore, cobalt and chromium.

In 2010, the value of commodities exported from the country amounted to $5.9 billion, a 26.3% increase from the previous year, owing to increase in the value of minerals in the global market.

The map of Papua New Guinea. Image Credit: CIA Factbook


In 2010, Ok Tedi Mine owned by the Government and Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) produced 159,821 t of copper from 22 million metric tons (Mt) of copper ore, compared to 166,669 t of copper from 22.6 Mt of ore in 2009.

The Hidden Valley Mine owned by Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. and Newcrest Mining Ltd. produced 465 kg of gold and 2,423 kg of silver in 2010. The mine is estimated to have total reserves of nearly 51,000 kg of gold. In 2010, the Tolukuma gold mine located in the Owen Stanley Range produced about 1,500 kg of gold. Barrick Gold Corp acquired the Porgera Mine, which produced about 17,000 kg of gold in 2010. Porgera is estimated to contain proven reserves of 230,000 kg of gold.

The $1.5 billion worth Ramu nickel and cobalt project is a joint venture between China’s MCC Ramu NiCo, Highlands Pacific Ltd. of Australia, and Mineral Resources Development Corp., and is likely to start functioning by the end of this year.

Fossil Fuels

The PNG LNG Project, a major liquefied natural gas operation in the country, is likely to be operational by 2014 after the completion of reconstruction work to develop infrastructure.


In 2010, the estimated reserves of natural gas in Papua New Guinea were 227 billion m3. The country’s mineral deposits, particularly copper, gold, and oil account for nearly two-thirds of country’s total export revenue. A major American oil company is constructing a LNG production facility, which is expected to start exporting in 2014. In addition, the Ramu nickel mine is all set to reopen in the near term.

The country is going ahead with plans of performing underwater extraction of natural resources from the seabed off its coast despite strong objections from local activists and environmentalists. The government has also recently approved a 20-year license to Canada-based Nautilus Minerals to execute the Solwara 1 project, which is the first commercial deep sea mining operation in the world. The company will mine an area of 1.6km beneath the Bismarck Sea to extract high-grade copper and gold. The government has also announced that it will have a 30% equity stake in the project by contributing $25 million for developing the infrastructure. The estimated value of the project is $1 billion.

Thanks to these significant developments and high demand for the country’s mineral exports, the mining sector of the country is expected to remain strong for the coming years.

Disclaimer: The Author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


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  1. Job Yeni Job Yeni Papua New Guinea says:

    Can you identify this object for me? I hope it is worth some value for me. I will send the image soon.

  2. Job Yeni Job Yeni Papua New Guinea says:

    I have an object like that of a mineral rock? A yellowish colored pear shaped rock I claimed as a diamond? I will send the image of it soon.

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