Govt needs to explain huge difference in mine sale prices
In November 2015, Petromin sold the Tolokuma mine to a foreign speculator, Singapore businessman Philip Soh Sai Kiang, for a reported K81.35 million [US$25 million]. Soh Sai Kiang acquired the mine using a Singapore registered front company, Asidokona Mining Resources.
The mine has been closed since April 2015 when Petromin shut down gold production claiming it could no longer cover the mining costs.
At the time of the sale in November 2015, Petromin Chairman, Brown Bai said the decision was based on commercial considerations and refuted claims of ‘political overtones’. He said the Petromin Board had sole responsibility for the decision to sell.
Mining Minister Byron Chan said the buyer, Asidokona Resources, was “reputable, committed, has integrity and capacity” (LOL).
Now, just eight months later and with the mine still mothballed, another Singapore outfit, LifeBrandz, an entertainment company that owns six nightclubs, bars and restaurants is reported to be paying US$212 million [K670 million] to acquire the mine.
How can a State asset sold by the government for K80 million in November 2015 now be worth K670 million? That represents a huge profit of around K590 million for a Singapore based company, Asidokona Mining Resources, and its owner Soh Sai Kiang.
And why is Petromin House the registered address in PNG for Asidokona!