Sampson Bonai | Post Courier | November 18,2016
THE revised Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) of the Hidden Valley gold mine in Wau is gathering dust at the Mineral Resource Authority head office in Port Moresby pending its endorsement two years ago.
A furious Nakuwi Landowners Association president Rex Mauri questioned the motive behind MRA’s delay in its endorsement of the revised agreement during a media conference in Lae yesterday:
“Why has MRA delayed the endorsement of the revised and initial agreement of Hidden Valley gold mine for its implementation two years ago?
“The revised agreement had been negotiated by all stakeholders including Morobe Mining Joint Ventures, Mineral Resources Authority, Treasury, Morobe Provincial Government and the Hidden Valley landowners in 2013-2014”.
It had been initialed and is awaiting endorsement from the government for its implementation, since four years ago.
“I’m very disappointed over the long delay and call on the relevant state agencies to fast track the approval process and endorse the revised agreement for the benefit of all stakeholders,” he said.
The outspoken president said the delay had greatly affected the three landowner villages of Nauti, Kwembu and Winima from participating in all the major spin off business activities from the mine.
He said the original Memorandum of Agreement was signed in August 5, 2005 by the developer and all the stakeholders in Wau before the commencement of the construction work on the mine in 2006. The mine began mining operations and poured its first gold bar in the first quarter of 2009. The mine was commissioned by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on September 30, 2010. The review of the original MoA had been done after four years of operations between 2013-2014 and a revised agreement had been initialed.
He explained that the landowners have become spectators on their own land and outsiders have capitalised on the delay by taking out most of the major contracts from the mine. He called on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to intervene and direct MRA to forward the revised agreement to the Government to have it signed and endorsed.