For many people around the world, easy access to banking services is taken for granted. In most countries, there is an automated teller machine (ATM) on virtually every street corner and branches are plentiful.
For the residents of Porgera, Papua New Guinea, however, this is not the case. But now, for the first time in 10 years, there is a bank branch and two ATMs in Porgera.
The long-term relationship between Barrick and the Bank of South Pacific (BSP) contributed to the bank’s decision to open its 37th branch. The previous bank branch closed due to the precarious security situation. Barrick had asked BSP to consider building a branch with retail services in the Porgera Valley, so that employees at the Porgera mine and the community at large would be better served with access to financial services. After careful consideration of the law-and-order landscape, BSP decided to go ahead with the new branch. Formerly, the closest banks were in the provincial capital Wabag (about 75 kilometers away) and Mount Hagen (about 177 kilometers away), both over difficult terrain.
Having a bank branch where residents can make deposits will mean fewer cash transactions, increased personal savings and less cash in homes. The bank also caters to small businesses, offering access to credit, which will help owners to build their businesses locally.
“We are very pleased that banking has come back to the valley after a decade,” said Porgera Joint Venture General Manager Greg Walker. “It means a lot to the people in this community that they can now have easy access to safe and secure bank transactions.”
Residents surrounding the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania are also grateful for a bank branch, especially since 56 per cent of the country’s citizens do not have access to financial services. The country faces similar challenges as those in PNG: maintaining law and order, and providing banking services to rural areas. Barrick supported the construction of a bank near the town of Kakola, now being operated by
Stanbic Bank. It serves more than 3,000 people, including small-scale miners, farmers, mine employees, local entrepreneurs and businesses.
Magdalena Michael appreciates that the bank is closer to her home. Previously, she had to travel as far as 80 kilometers to access bank services. Branch Manager Dickson Mosha said, “Wherever there is a bank there is development, as people can save money and access loans.”