MRL Capital Limited (MRLC) is the Trustee Manager of the Lihirians Equity Trust.
MRLC, then called Mineral Resources Lihir Ltd (MRL), was originally established under the PNG Government auspices to hold in Trust, Landowners equity in the world class Lihir gold mine on Lihir Island in PNG. Until September 2010 the mine was developed by Lihir Gold Ltd (LGL).
The operations were taken over the New Crest Mine Limited since then. MRL was then a wholly owned subsidiary of Minerals Resources Development Company Ltd (MRDC). When LGL was initially floated in 1995, MRL acquired over 77 million shares which was equal to 6.01% of the issued capital. The acquisition was financed in part using funds borrowed by MRDC from EIB under the EIB Finance Contract, which was on-lent by MRDC to MRL under the MRDC On-Lending Agreement.
The loan was guaranteed by the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. In 2005, some 15 million of these shares were sold on ASX to settle the outstanding EUR $16 million with EIB and also raised investments funds for the company. The loan was consequently settled in full from the sale proceeds and MRL was released by EIB from its debt obligations to trade. Prior to this, MRL was asset rich but cash poor.
In May 2008, MRL executed its rights under the Management Agreement with MRDC and exited from the Management of MRDC to operate as a legal entity on its own. This was with the consent of the six major Lihirian clans (Tinetalgo, Nissal, Unawos, Lamatlik, Nikama and Tengawom) who are the beneficiaries. With the approval from the State and National Court clearance MRL Capital was established as a legal entity. MRL became incorporated under the PNG Company’s Act 1997 on 4th January 2009 to become MRL Capital Limited (MRLC). This was necessary to reflect the nature of the company’s business operations. The Lihir landowners’ equity in the Lihir Gold Mine has since been completely liquidated on the ASX in 2006.
Unlike other mining and petroleum project landowners who derive direct benefits – equity or lifting – from mining and petroleum projects in the country, the Lihir landowners have no direct interest in the Lihir Gold Mine on their island. MRL Capital’s investment policy is simple: Protect, Preserve and Grow the assets of the Trust, guided by a clearly articulated investment policy. MRL Capital’s core business function is to operate as a self managed investment fund on behalf of its beneficiaries, the Lihirian people. Over the coming years, it will endeavour to undertake investments that will generate income and capital growth so that it can continue to provide benefits to the people of Lihir long after the closure of Lihir Gold Mine.