The extractive industries play an important role in the economy of Papua New Guinea. In 2013, mineral exports (including oil, gas and mining) accounted for 72.5% of export earnings according to Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG). The oil, gas and mineral sectors have attracted large-scale investment, particularly the PNG LNG Project which has had a major impact on the local economy.
The most important commodities produced are oil, gold and copper. Other resources include natural gas, nickel, cobalt and silver. In 2013, Papua New Guinea was the world’s 12th largest producer of gold according to the World Gold Council. Lihir, Ok Tedi and Porgera are the largest industrial gold mines. Small-scale mining of gold employs 60,000 to 80,000 people.
Crude oil production is modest on a global scale and declining due to maturing oil fields. In 2013, it did however account for 11.3% of exports according to BPNG. Oil is slowly being replaced by natural gas production. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) production will increase in late 2014, as the PNG LNG project comes on-line. The project is operated by a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. The government of PNG has a 19.4% stake. Several companies are also undertaking exploration activities in the hydrocarbons sector.