The Union of Watut River Communities in Papua New Guinea has warned academics from the Australian National University that they are not welcome and will be trespassing if they try and enter any Watut community land.
The academics have been hired by the owners of the Hidden Valley mine, Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold, to conduct social mapping and a development assessment in the Bulolo and Huon Gulf Districts of Morobe Province.
Writing to researcher Dr John Burton at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, the UoWRC has said the proposed study is “strongly opposed”.
The communities are already angered by the response from the mine owners, Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold, to the pollution of the Watut river with acid forming sediments and say they object to any team doing consultation work for the Hidden Valley mine “stomping over our customary land without permission” and will not allow the miners or its partners “to trespass as much as they like and yet allowing the landowners to be kept kept in the dark”.
The UoWRC say Newcrest and Harmony have yet to resolve many of the communities’ issues and “continues its CHEAT in the concern communities in its cooperative approach, as agreed at the recent meeting with the Mining Minister held in Port Moresby” and the miners and government have still refused to release independent scientific studies that have been completed on the pollution of the river.