Simon Keslep | Post Courier | May 9, 2016
THE Multi-million kina Solwara 1 project within the coastal region of New Ireland and East New Britain needs to be reviewed in terms of landowner benefits.
Former president of Central New Ireland local level government Toligai Soka said last Friday with the 2018 locked in by Canadian Miner Nautilus that there were still a few issues that needed to be ironed out.
Top of the list Mr Soka said were the equity share benefits for landowners within the projected Solwara 1 tenements and also the environmental aspects pertaining to the deep sea mine.
“Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) and Nautilus need to explain also the shift of project location (tenements 154) and what benefits will Namatanai wards of one, two, three and four gain.”
Mr Soka added that procurement studies should also be carried out in terms of the project’s environmental and social aspects of development for coastal communities located within the project extraction zones.
He had claimed due process had not been followed in the issuance of the licence to the developer.
“Seabed mining is a totally different ball game and we understand the the Land Mining Act was adopted and used in the issuance of the liscence. This is whilst awaiting collation of draft policies.
“It is really a slap in the face when landowners are denied their share of benefits and even being left neglected in terms of basic service deliveries like education, health and other socio-economic developments,” said Mr Soka.
“It is now becoming a common trend of establishing ghost created landowner groups in major economical townships which directly contributes to inadequate distribution of royalty payments for traditional landowners.” he had added.
Meanwhile Mr. Soka gave reference to the three main economic projects within New Ireland province which includes Simberi, Lihir and now Nautilus.
“There should be establishment community consultative organisations to deal with landowners’ economic, social and environmental issues relating to the project,” added Mr. Soka
Mr Soka’s concerns is also in reference to a recent World Bank Report on immediate cautions in Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific region in which PNG has already granted a license for ocean floor mining through the Solwara 1 project.