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Mine Landowners: Settle issues first

Post Courier
February 19th, 2015

Landowners along the Pogera river who were affected by environmental damages caused by the Porgera Gold Mine have petitioned the government to intervene on their request for the developer Barrick Gold to compensate them for the damages caused to their environment and river systems.

Former Member for Laigaip-Porgera Opis Papo, who is also a principal landowner of the Porgera river said he had written to the office of the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on behalf of his people to inform the government to intervene since the story on Barrick proposing to sell its 95% shares in the mine to an Asian company was made public.

Mr Papo, who was mandated with the Power of Attorney to speak on behalf of the 22 clan leaders and 195 clan land agents representing more than 6,000 people who live along the Porgera riverside, said the speculations on Barrick’s exit had deeply troubled the people and wanted the government to intervene.

"My people have suffered the worse consequences of river pollution including loss of our economic life line which was the damage to alluvial gold mining field," Mr Papo said.

Mr Papo, a geologist by profession added that despite numerous demands, there were no efforts taken by Barrick to resolve the issues.

He said this led to the landowners instituting a court proceeding against Barrick and the State (Ministry of Environment & Conservation) on the failure by Barrick to compensate the landowners at an adequate rate.

"Barrick is the operator and majority owner of the Porgera Gold mine, its mining operations have caused irreparable damage on the riverine environment and consequently thousands of people are affected and issues of compensation and rehabilitation have not been fairly and properly resolved," Mr Papo said.

"Whilst I respect Barrick’s significant interest in the sale, our interest in our land, water and environment should also be respected since we will remain to bear the full brunt of the damage, which is totally unfair," Mr Papo added.

Meawhile, Barrick said on Tuesday that it wants an open relationship with the stake holders of the Pogera Joint Venture (PJV), of which it holds a 95% share.

In a statement released yesterday, the executive general manager, Greg Walker said Barrick (Niugini) Limited is happy to discuss any issue of concern regarding the operation of the Pogera Mine with stakeholders of PJV.

Walker said the company maintains cordial working relationships with all its stakeholders and encourages the use of these channels to raise any concerns or issues that stakeholders may have.

 

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