The government and the Mineral Resource Authority appear to be in total conflict over the status of mining on Woodlark Island.
According to Lands Minister Benny Allan the mining leases have been cancelled – on the instructions of the Prime Minister himself.
Not so according to MRA Managing Director Philip Samar, he says the mining leases have not been cancelled.
The people of Woodlark Island might want to know who is right!
Mining leases on Woodlark Island not cancelled: Samar
The National aka The Loggers Times | October 25, 2016
MINERAL Resource Authority managing director Philip Samar says mining leases on Woodlark Island in Milne Bay have not been cancelled.
Clarifying a media statement by Lands Minister Benny Allan that mining leases on Woodlark were cancelled and land titles given back to the land owners, Samar said that according to a feasibility study on the island, a resource of two million ounces of gold was defined.
“The mineable reserves or the actual gold ounces to be mined out of these two million ounces were estimated at 766,000 ounces over a period of nine years. There is potential to increase the mine life beyond nine years by converting the total resources into mineable reserves,” he said.
Samar said that the media had misreported that the Woodlark mining leases were cancelled.
On the contrary, the mining leases had not been cancelled and were intact.
“The only thing that has happened is the transfer of the State land on Woodlark Island by the Department of Lands to the people of Woodlark Island,” he said.
Allan had said that the declaration for the State land to land owners after more than 50 years became effective following gazettal on Aug 1.
“The land area totalling 60,440 hectares comprise portion 138 (19,160 ha, portion 139 (12,280ha) and portion 140 (29,000 ha) Milinch of Woodlark, Fourmill of the Samarai-Murua District.”
Allan said that an existing mining lease on those portions was cancelled to allow for a formal declaration as customary land.
“Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had given instructions for the mining leases to be extinguished and for the transfer of titles to the landowners following concerns raised by Milne Bay Governor Titus Philemon,” he said.