When the people of Ganglau and Mindre villages agreed to the industrialization of their land at Basamuk, Madang Province, they thought they would get;
- Good Health care
- A Primary School
- Road linkage to Madang Town
- Water supply
- Power supply
- Business opportunities
- Employment opportunities
The people had good reason to believe that they would enjoy the above benefits as they were promised by the government and miners. Unfortunately, there has been very little progress.
The township that houses Chinese workers has been built in the catchment area of a nearby creek that provided drinking water for Mindre villagers. Sewerage from the township is drained into the creek. The creek has lost its flow and is slowly dying. Fish and eels that once inhabited the creek are gone.
Today the villagers of Mindre have to walk about 3 Km to the Yaganon River, to bathe, do their laundry and fetch drinking water. They have however noted a decrease in the water table around the Yaganon which they say is due to water extraction by Ramu Nico. The miner has six pumping stations located along the Yaganon River. Local leaders at Mindre village say that the Chinese and their Australian partner Highlands Pacific Ltd aren’t paying for the water they pump out of the Yaganon River.
The miners have set up one tank per village, which they connected to their water mains. However, a dispute with the company over monthly fees has meant that nothing flows into the tanks. The people do not want to pay the company for water which they say is being extracted free by the company.
The people have watched on the sidelines as their land was possessed and the processing facilities and associated structures erected. Power lines and water pipes run past their village to modern accommodation units while they live in bush material homes without electricity or water supply.
The sea is their last untouched resource. The coconut and cocoa plantations at Basamuk that once provided their income have been destroyed to clear the land for the Nickel/cobalt processing plant.
On Sunday 31st of July, they gathered under a mango tree at Mindre village to discuss the National Court Decision regarding Deep Sea Tailings. They cannot understand why their Provincial leaders were happy to see tailings being deposited into the ocean.
Many just don’t want to see the Chinese anymore. Incidents of stoning of company vehicles have increased. Company officials complained about this to the Police who then brought up the issue with villagers on Monday 1st of August. The village leaders told the police that such incidents are bound to continue as there is widespread resentment of the company.