Watut Union wants more time for Environment Consultation

DEC only allowing 28 days for community submissions

DEC has not given communities copies of the proposed environmental plan

Previous payments for environmental damage as low as K4 and K11 per family 

Sylvester Gawi | EMTV

The Union of Watut River communities in Morobe province have expressed concerns over the environmental damages that may happen when the Wafi mine comes into operation.

They claimed that damages done by mine tailings from the Hidden Valley mine in previous years were not compensated well by the Morobe Mining Joint Venture.

They are now calling on the Department of Environment and conservation to give enough time for the impacted communities to be consulted before an Environmental permit is approved.

The Union is saying that the 20 days given by the Department of Environment and Conservation to review Wafi mine’s environmental permit is inadequate.

They are now asking for the timeframe to be extended until the end of this month, to give enough time for them to consult the communities in the impacted areas of the mine.

President of the Union of Watut River communities, Reuben Mete, says they cant allow the permit to be approved without consulting the people.

“We want an expension of time so that the people of Upper Watut, Mumeng, Wampar and Salamaua LLGs be given ample time for discussions on issues that will be affecting them regarding the Wafi gold mine,” says Mete.

The union claimed that in previous years, communities affected by tailings from the Hidden Valley mine were not compensated well.

Payment documents from previous incidents revealed that locals were paid as low as K4 and K11 for damages done to their plants and food gardens.

What the union wants to see is impacted areas; especially riverine communities are consulted and fully informed on compensation methods before a permit is approved.

Chairman of Mining in the Morobe Provincial Executive Council, Okam Paton, has denied being consulted by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

He is expected to bring this matter to Tutumang’s attention when they convene this Thursday.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

One response to “Watut Union wants more time for Environment Consultation

  1. Nalau Bingeding

    The environmental permit is nothing more than a paper that says that mining or exploration is to go ahead whether the customary landowners or other stakeholders like it or not. In fact viewing of the environmental permit is just a matter of formality to fulfill procedural requirements of the Environment Act 2000, but the reality is that DEC has already approved the environment in principal – I do not know of any environmental permit issued in PNG in which DEC had rejected it. Therefore consider the Waffi environmental permit already an approved document by DEC.

    What we need now is a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a department totally different from DEC that can truly protect our environments. DEC has gone past its use-by date – it is no longer capable of serving the name it stands for (Department of Environment and conservation). DEC has two functions, to protect as well as destroy the environment through the issuance of environmental permits. In other words the DEC cannot be the regulator as well as be the regulated, meaning it cannot regulate environmental damage as well as be the destroyer of the environment through issuance of permits to destroy the environment.

    The Watuts, Wampars, Salamauas, Labus and the others should take out a court injunction on the environmental permits until we have viewed the document in full. We just cannot let DEC play the cat and mouse game anymore in this country, enough is enough. Our livelihoods are now at stake, and what are the opportunity costs for us if Waffi Gold Mine went ahead? We deserve better compensation if our social, economic and environmental opportunity costs are going to give way to exploration and mining at Waffi.

    Thank you.

    Nalau Bingeding Nasuapum Village, Wampar LLG Lae, Morobe Province.

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