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Landowners oppose sale of EL 1277

by ZACHERY PERThe National (Papua New Guinea)
December 17th, 2007

THE sale of exploration licence (EL) 1277 in Henganofi district Eastern Highlands province to Barrick (PNG) Gold by Highlands Pacific Ltd (HPL) has been opposed by a landowner group.

Montee Akike, chairman of Ozai Holdings Ltd, rejected HPL chairman Bob Bryan�s claim that EL 1277 belonged to his company.

Mr Akike said HPL could sell the Kainantu Mine and EL 1399 �but not EL 1277 as it was unconditionally non-negotiable,� he said.

He said EL 1277 was involved in strings of court cases and court orders.

�I am warning Barrick Gold against buying EL 1277, otherwise, we could cause them a lot of problems,� Mr Akike said.

He said angry landowners recently assaulted and harassed company officials and mine warden as a sign of their outright objection to the sale.

Mr Akike further said company officials would have difficulties coming to the exploration area should EL 1277 was transferred (to Barrick).

�HPL does not own the Kessar Creek land (EL 1277) � we, the landowners, totally oppose Mr Bryan�s statement and urge him to delay the licence renewal and resolve the issue first,� Mr Akike said.

Kessar Creek land is located in the Henganofi district whose water system feed into the Kainantu (Bilimoia) streams through to the mine.

Mr Akike said the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) had not taken the issue seriously and questioned whose interest it (MRA) represented in the issue.

He also called on Mining Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Puka Temu to intervene in the controversy.

In an earlier report, Mr Bryan said that transfer of EL 1277 and EL 1399 to Barrick Gold would be withheld pending renewal of the licence.


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