Ok Tedi Mining : The Heart of Papua New Guinea

Editorial TeamJoshua Mann
Editorial Team Joshua Mann - Regional Director


OTML recognises the need for the workforce to be flexible and have the capacity to change and apply new technology to maintain competitiveness. Ok Tedi provides an in-depth suite of training and development programmes commencing with site and departmental inductions through to externally delivered mining leadership courses. OTML aims to ensure that all employees are skilled and competent in the execution of their responsibilities and are offered the opportunity for personal growth consistent with business needs.


OTML operates the Star Mountains Training Institute as a Registered Training Organisation in Tabubil through the Dr. Jacob Weiss Training Centre and is committed to the development of its most important resource – its employees. Since 1982, over 10,000 employees have completed education and training in some form. Programmes offered include Preferred Area Development, Graduate Development Scheme, Apprenticeships, employee on-the-job training both in-country and overseas.


OTML sponsors a Graduate Development Scheme, in which new university graduates are chosen and offered positions in their respective study disciplines that features mentoring, on the job experience, further training and career possibilities. They undergo a two-year training programme following which they are offered full-time roles depending on their performance and position availability.


OTML offers an apprenticeship trade programme to meet its needs and contribute to the national pool of tradespeople. OTML encourages its business partners to also develop apprentices. OTML’s apprenticeship programme has been awarded strong endorsements and recommendations through the Papua New Guinea National Apprentice and Trade Testing Board with whom the company works closely to ensure the quality of its apprenticeship programme.


There has been a considerable investment made through scholarships for mine community students to undertake secondary, post-secondary and tertiary courses in PNG and overseas in order to support priority skills needs within the Western Province.

OTDF manages nine Flexible Open Distance Education centres operating in the Western Province. These centres provide access to secondary studies for hundreds of out of school youth and adults, allowing them to upgrade their qualifications to meet tertiary institution enrolment requirements.

Education infrastructure is vital for delivering education outcomes. The OTML Tax Credit Scheme has recently developed building improvements for the Montfort Primary School, as well as the construction of Oksapmin High School for students in the North Fly and Telefomin Districts. In 2017, the Tabubil International School was reopened with support from OTML, the community and an innovative community business initiative, in order to offer alternative higher quality schooling for children from the local communities.


The OTML Community Relations team is responsible for the planning, implementation and communication of OTML community relations programmes, such as environmental impact mitigation, compensation payments, local employment and benefit sharing opportunities, infrastructure development and services for the Western Province.

The OTML Community Relations team manages the dissemination of information to the communities and undertake formal and informal consultation. Every year, the Community Relations team completes a number of annual formal community visits to each of the 158 villages in the nine CMCA regions, which covers an area of more than 98,000 kilometres.

Over 20,000 people attend these meetings every year. Meetings are held with both men and women as well as with women separately to discuss issues specific to women and children. Formal meetings are also held with local, ward, provincial and national government authorities. In these forums, the communities and their leaders have the right to raise issues with OTML and the state that impact upon their livelihoods. OTML uses the meetings to provide feedback on issues previously raised and provide information updates on mining operations, environmental impacts, agreed compensation, statutory compensation, statutory compliance understanding and the awareness of applicable laws relating to lease management and social responsibility programmes managed through OTDF.

Western Province entities maintain a 33 percent interest in OTML, with a representation on the Ok Tedi Board of Directors. Ok Tedi engages with its stakeholders and maintain regular open and transparent dialogue with the mine associated communities and government. This dialogue is based on Free and Prior Informed Consent principles to which OTML subscribes.

Ok Tedi’s community development programmes have focused on developing partnerships with local communities, governments and businesses in a bid to help harness sustainable social and economic development in the Western Province and the Telefomin District. This approach ensures the community development programmes complement government initiatives and those of aid agencies and Non-Government Organisations working within the region.

The delivery and management of major community development programmes are primarily delivered through the Ok Tedi Development Foundation.

Indeed, OTML community development projects target women and children. Ok Tedi, through OTDF, has introduced various women’s programmes which recognise the significant social shift caused by development and the necessity for women to play a more active role in their communities. A key area of this is women’s leadership skills. These workshops aim to strengthen the existing village women’s groups so that they can tie into the PNG National Council of Women network. The focus of these workshops is on equipping women with the skills to assist them to become involved in the decision-making process.

Women leaders play an influential role in all mine community consultation processes and leaders’ meetings and are represented on the OTDF Board. A minimum of 10 percent of the CMCA Compensation package has been allocated for women and children and regional women’s associations have been set to make use of the funds for women and children projects.


In 2007, during the mine benefits stream negotiations for communities impacted by the OTML operations, each CMCA region was represented by one woman. The women were able to negotiate for 10 percent of the funds from the mine operations to be dedicated to the women and children programme. This was a significant achievement for women in PNG and reinforced women’s rights to representation at the highest levels of decision making on mine benefits for local communities.

The Memorandum of Agreement following the review specifically provided for recognition of women representatives on Village Planning Committee, the CMCA Association and the Board of the Ok Tedi Development Foundation.

In 2012, when the Mine Continuation Agreements came up for a five-year review, around 30 women leaders participated in the negotiation process. Each region was represented by three women negotiators with six from Mine Village CMCA. During the negotiations, the women increased the trust funding set-aside for women and children from 10 percent to 18 percent, dependent on the region. Support for the increase came from the male leaders as they recognised that the women leaders were facilitating programmes that benefit the whole village and the families.


Further, the Ok Tedi Women’s Network (OWN) was established to represent females in the Ok Tedi workforce and address issues including the identification of structural barriers to career progression, professional development needs, personal safety and health matters for its female personnel.

OWN provides a platform for women to have a voice and a support mechanism in which they can learn from other women who could have experienced similar issues.


·      Creating a forum for exchanging ideas.

·      Addressing safety and security matters of concern to female employees of OTML and resident spouses.

·      Identify development pathways for female employees and impediments to progression.

·      Encourage mentorship and training for female employees.

·      Promote ways to improve the success of OTML in attracting and retaining female employees.


The Pasin Ok Tedi programme is an initiative of the OTML Executive Management Team and focuses on building an inclusive ‘One Team, Wan Pasin.’

The Pasin Ok Tedi Team consists of influential and renowned representatives from across the business who work with the Executive Leadership, Business Improvement and Safety Teams to transform the workplace culture of its business enabling Ok Tedi to uphold its values and achieve its vision.


·      To support Line Managers and everyone to develop a culture, where employees.

·      Feel the sense of belonging and ownership.

·      Give their best every day and continuously seek to improve.

·      Are kept informed and involved.

·      Enjoy the achievement of living up to their responsibilities.

·      Realise their worth to the business.

·      Help make Ok Tedi a leader of the pack.

·      Help make Ok Tedi the employer of choice.

The people of the Star Mountains and the Fly River have traditionally learned their culture, language, knowledge and skills as part of village life. Now, since the mine has opened the area to outside influences, education is widely accepted by the Western Province communities as a way to improve their livelihood and contribute to the long-term economic and social development within the Western Province.

Ok Tedi has long supported local schools through the Tax Credit Scheme and has built and upgraded many new school classrooms across the Province. The transfer of the Community Education Service function to the Ok Tedi Development Foundation from Ok Tedi has consolidated community development initiatives for all mine associated communities. The OTDF has improved coordination of education and educational services with a number of partners including the Provincial Education Department and other development partners.


Indeed, COVID-19 continues to impact on operations and in March 2021, Ok Tedi suspended its operations for a second time.

As a result of a surge of cases at the mine site and in Papua New Guinea, OTML suspended operations for 14 days from Friday, 19th March. The suspension coincided with the PNG Government’s National Isolation Strategy that was introduced on Monday, 22nd March. The decision was made in accordance with OTML’s commitment to take all reasonably practical measures to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of all its employees, families, contractors and host communities and to ensure the resumption of operations in a safe, economical and timely manner for the benefit of all stakeholders.

During the temporary suspension of operations, the company introduced a mass testing programme within its operations in a bid to further mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and ensure it resumed safe operations. As of the end of March 2021, over 10,000 test samples were collected from its employees, contractors, business partners and families. These were then sent to Australia for testing and regular updates were provided to the National Control Centre in Port Moresby.

Dr. Charlie Turharus, OTML Health Manager, said that the mass testing programme helped his medical team which consists of doctors and healthcare professionals from the Tabubil Hospital to significantly test and isolate COVID-19 cases. “Fortunately, almost all the cases we have recorded are asymptomatic or only showing mild to moderate symptoms,” said Dr. Turharus.

OTML’s mass testing programme has covered almost all the mine’s work areas including Kiunga and Bige where the firm operates its wharf and dredging operations respectively. Employees working in Port Moresby and at its regional exploration sites are also being tested. “Our priority is the safety, health and wellbeing of all our personnel, and we will ensure that this mass testing programme is implemented successfully so that we contain the spread of the virus and resume safe operation,” added Dr. Turharus.

Given the current state of the world, predicting exactly what the future will hold is harder than ever before. But, Managing Director and CEO, Werror, believes that Ok Tedi is well-placed to continue to thrive with the future in mind.

“Ok Tedi has a soul, and the workforce works with great pride knowing their efforts contribute to the development of PNG. We aim to become a role model in the mining industry in PNG.”

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The Editorial team at APAC Outlook Magazine is a team of professional in-house editors led by Jack Salter, Head of Editorial at Outlook Publishing.