Landowners living along the Watut river in Papua New Guinea have filed a legal action seeking compensation for pollution caused by heavy metals and sediments from the Hidden Valley gold mine.
The legal papers were filed today by lawyers acting for one hundred ten landowners and their MP, Sam Basil.
The landowners are seeking compensation from the Hidden Valley mine operator, Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV), which is jointly owned by Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining.
MMJV last week made a joint announcement with Mr Basil that it was setting up an expert technical advisory panel to review the sediment and pollution issues affecting the Watut river.
In return, Mr Basil says, he agreed to delay issuing legal proceedings to see if the issues could be settled co-operatively without involving the courts.
But, in breach of that agreement, Mr Basil says MMJV has been attempting to buy off the potential plaintiffs with single payments of K1,200 compensation.
“I feel completely deceived”, says Mr Basil. “I have tried to negotiate in good-faith with the mining company even though they have been covering up the pollution problem for over a year”
“As a result of the discussions I thought we had established a clear road-map to resolve the pollution issues and I was prepared to trust their word. Instead the miners have gone behind my back and tried to buy-off the landowners”.
“I am disgusted by the two-faced behaviour from MMJV and therefore the legal action has been filed”.