MP Sam Basil has criticized the Department of Conservation (DEC) for failing to regulate the mining industry in Papua New Guinea and ensure mine operations are environmentally safe.
“DEC has a responsibility on behalf of the Nation to ensure mining operations are safe and will not damage the environment. Yet time after time the mines end up causing massive problems while DEC sits by and watches”.
“We have already had massive pollution from Bougainville, Ok Tedi, Tolukuma and Porgera mines and sadly now it is the same with the Hidden Valley project. The PNG Government through DEC is telling the world that mining with pollution is normal in PNG and the people must accept that fact”.
Mr Basil has recently filed legal proceedings against the Hidden Valley mine in his constituency over its pollution of the Watut river.
“It is not good enough for Minister Benny Allen to say DEC received an environmental audit report on the Hidden Valley mine in May this year and will be working on an environmental improvement plan”.
“Where is the report? Why have I not been given a copy? Why don’t the landowners who are suffering the impacts of the pollution have a copy? Is DEC trying to cover up things for the mining company? The report should be released immediately”.
“If the Minister’s sponsored report audit says the river is safe then I will invite the minister to Watut River to consume a litre of Watut River to prove to me that the rivers is safe”.
Mr Basil says DEC should also explain why it gave the Hidden Valley mine an environmental permit in the first place and how it is the company was able to pollute the Watut river without DEC noticing anything was wrong.
“DEC, like MRA, is supposed to be protecting landowners and our environment, not facilitating mining on the cheap”.
Mr Basil says he has instructed his lawyers to look into whether DEC and the Minister could be legally held liable for the damage the mine has caused.