Porgera Landowners petition PNG Government with Ultimatum regarding Barrick’s intention to sell Porgera Mine

MOA landowner protest
Photo from previous landowner dispute over Barrick's violation to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

Today, Porgera Landowners petitioned the PNG Government with an ultimatum in response to Barrick’s announcement that it intends to sell off its stake in the Porgera Mine. According to the petition, the government has until Feb 25, 2015 to respond to the landowners request that the government deal with unresolved issues at the mine before allowing its sale.

These issues are outlined as follows:

1. SML Resettlement The relocation issues not being fully addressed by the Developers and the State in the due processes since 24 years of mine life as of 1989 to 2015 this year.

2. Landowner Resettlement Issues The major resettlement issues not being addressed even though the matter was raised at different avenues. The major resettlement program is still pending with Barrick being the key player.

3. Disposal of Tailings The PJV’s continuous discharging of mine waste into the main riverine system especially at Anawe waste dump site and Anjolek creek are causing a serious damages to the environment, improving plants and permanent loss of traditional customary land starting from the mine site then flows into the main Kaiya and Pogema River Systems respectively. Its then proceeds down to the main Porgera River and on to Fly River system resulting in causing tension cracks with high flooding of the debrides with mixture of sands, gravels and toxic chemicals reactions are taking place. Then it also causes with huge landslides along the either sides of the riverbanks. Reference – Parama Association of Lower Porgera is now taking legal actions and seeking Human Rights International assistance against the PJV-Barrick Gold Ltd and Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

4. Human Rights Currently the SML Landowners are now living within the vicinity of the special mining lease areas are seriously affected as due to air and dust pollution causing from the hauling of mine Ore body and toxic fume or steams that evaporates through the milling chimney that goes up into the air. And it really affects the human lives when drinking of rain water catchment from the tanks and other air pollutions within the PJV relocation homes and other surrounding areas of SML Porgera mine. Also a number of local landowners and domestic animals being carried away by the high flooding river currents while penning of alluvial gold along the main Kaiya and Porgera River System; a traditional or customary land owned by the Tieni, Tuanda and Kewai landowners. Reference – Porgera Landowners Association is dealing these matters at the high level of both government authorities and other international community’s support and assistance.

5. Porgera Agreement After more than 24 years of mine life there was no tangible developments were taking sharp into the relocation areas such as electricity connection into the relocation houses, access road links into the relocation villages. Also there is no proper Aid-post or Health centers and any form of educational services such as elementary to primary schools within the relocation areas of SML Porgera mine. Reference – The Porgera Landowners association has raised these praising issues and graveness at the various avenues during the 24 years of mining life. Thus, no formal review was done between the STATE, DEVELOPER (Barrick Gold Ltd) and Porgera Landowners Association for and on behalf of the silent majority with an estimate population of ten thousand (10 000) plus people of SML Landowners of Porgera mine.

6. Mine Lease Issues Papua New Guinea is a land owned by the traditional landowners oppose to state ownership. We the traditional landowners own the land through inhabitants from generation to generations. The mine lease Barrick will expire in (2019) that is after three years’ time, but, we still have the issues of permanent damages to our land and environmental damages caused due to mining operations.

7. Socio-economic Issues The socio-economic liabilities including outstanding obligations and claims for sustainability are at stake.

With these underlying issues which has been prolong for well over 24 years of mine life, the PJV Barrick Gold went ahead and sold out its 95% share from Porgera mine without the landowners concerns as we are the part shareholder of 2.5% and another 2.5% belongs to the Enga Provincial Government. Also the State and the Barrick Gold Ltd are well aware that we the people of SML area of Porgera mine are wholly own this customary land territories of the current mining operations are taking place. The State and the Barrick Gold Ltd had deliberately removed our rights and freedoms as part of ignorance and selling out of 95% stake to an unknown mining company. Under that circumstance we the landowners are very much frustrated and anger over the manner in which the PJV/Barrick Gold Ltd the immediate manager of the Porgera mining operation had deliberately by-passing the landowners from further negotiation on Barrick take-over. Also PJV/Barrick had left behind all the above pressing issues yet to be addressed and just wanted to sneak out. With these terms and conditions, we have no choice but to declare the mine operation to be CLOSED for indefinite period if no positive responses are coming forthwith.

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