The Mineral Resources Authority, a PNG government agency created in 2005, has engaged one of the regions largest law firms, Allens Arthur Robinson, to defeat a case brought by a group of indigenous landowners worried by the potential environmental impacts of the new Ramu nickel mine.
Allens Arthur Robinson employs more than 1,500 lawyers in 14 offices across Australia and the Asia region and boasts that 45 out of the world’s largest 100 companies are clients.
In contrast, indigenous landowners in PNG are some of the poorest in the world with 60% living below the international poverty line and PNG ranking a lowly 148th out of 180 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. For example indigenous people in PNG suffer from maternal mortality rates which are some of the highest in the world at 773 deaths per 100,000 live births and more than 500 people die unnecessarily every year from maleria.
The MRA says that its vision is “to improve the lifes of Papua New Guinean’s through responsible managment of the nations mineral resources” and its goals include “encouraging the participation of local people” and “ensuring optimal benefits for the people”.
If this vision and goal are to be believed then the MRA should explain why it is using the peoples money to pay the huge costs of hiring Allens Arthur Robinson to defeat a claim by indigenous landowners who say they have not been consulted on the Ramu nickel mine’s submarine tailings disposal plans which will see 100 tons of mine waste dumped in their seas; have not agreed to the dumping; and do not believe it will not have a negative impact on their environment.
Who is the PNG government trying to protect here? The indigenous people of PNG or the Chinese State owned company that is developing the Ramu mine?
And if the landowners case has no merit as the mining companies claim why is it necessary to waste money PNG tax payers money on an Australian law firm?
Are the MRA and the Somare government just the puppets of the Chinese State?