Letter to Barrick Management on behalf of Porgera Landowners Association

Toronto, CANADA

For the attention of Mr. Greg Wilkins and the board of Barrick Gold:

We are indigenous  Ipili  from the  Highlands  of  Papua  New Guinea.  We have travelled half way across the world, to speak out  against  the grave issues our people face because of your Porgera mine.  
When you came to our place you offered us cash-for-land deals that have turned our traditions upside-down. 
Your mine has destroyed our ancestral land, our sacred places, environments pollutted and our gardens, which we need to feed ourselves. You dump your mine waste directly into our river system contaminating 600 km of river all the way to the sea.  You do this, even though you know that it is illegal to dump your waste into rivers in Canada. 
As you know, our people have been pushed to living on the very edges of your open pit and very close to your massive piles of waste rock. Our houses are so close to the mine pit and to your mountainous waste dumps that our people, especially our children, are always in grave danger of falling into the pit. As you know, many of our people have already lost their lives this way. Others have been swept away and drowned when they have tried to cross the river of mine waste because there are no safe bridges across.

We thought that it was strange that you stated at the Annual General meeting yesterday that you had built infrastructure at your mine sites for surrounding communities. To date, we have seen no tangible or sustainable developments on account of the Porgera Mine.
Finally, as you know, your security guards have been shooting and killing our people and raping, even gang-raping, our women with impunity for years now. This issue has now been raised with the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings at the United Nations. 
You have destroyed our land, our water, our safety and our ability to feed ourselves. We know that we can no longer live on our ancestral land. We know that we must leave our place so that our children can have a future. But now your company – Barrick – is refusing to offer us fair terms for our resettlement.

As a matter of urgency, we request that:

1. Barrick agree to resettle the more than 5,000 families who live within your mine lease in a way that is fair and will provide us an opportunity to be healthy, to feed our families, and to educate our children.

2. Barrick finally pay fair compensation to the families who have lost their loved ones to the guns of your security forces, to the rape victims, to the families who have lost members in your open pit and in the waste dumps and who have drowned in your river of tailings.

3. Barrick finally carry out the recommendations of the 1996 CSIRO report that was commissioned by the mine management that recommended an end to the dumping of mine waste into our river.

4. Barrick review the fly-in, fly-out arrangement for mine employees, and revive the agreement that was signed in January, 2001 with the landowners, the State of Papua New Guinea, the Enga Provincial government and Porgera Joint Venture, which was subsequently suspended. The agreement has been suspended for almost four years.

We suspect that the field managers at the Porgera site are telling you incorrect information about the impacts that your mine has had on affected communities and expect your immediate action now that these issues have been brought to your direct attention.

On behalf of the Porgera Landowners Association and the Akali Tange Association,
Mark Ekepa
Chairman, Porgera Landowners Association

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