Post Courier | November 18, 2016
LANDOWNERS at the Ramu nickel and cobalt project have committed not to disturb the only multi-million dollar project based in Madang Province.
The four landowners associations representing the project impacted communities including, Kurumbukari, Basamuk, Coastal Pipeline and Maigarimade the resolution at a conference earlier this week with the managing director of Mineral Resources Authority Philip Samar.
This follows a threat to disturb the project in a letter dated November 8, from the three LOA chairmen, Peter Tai (Maigari), Jeffery Gamrai (Coastal Pipeline) and SamaMellombo(Basamuk) while Tobby Bare from Kurumbukari refrained saying there were legal avenues to sort out issues.
The chairmen in their notice attention to Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) and MRA gave seven days ultimatum as of November 9, to respond to their claims or shut-down the mine. The issues include royalty, K10 million business development grant promised by the national government five years ago and spin-off business opportunities for landowners.
In the meeting involving the LOA chairmen, RamuNiCo and MRA, all parties resolved that royalty will be paid soon but formalities had to be sorted out by the company and MRA. In the past the government and the company continued discussions formulating ways to calculate the royalties as the current formulae according to the mine development contract does not enable the company to pay any royalties due to the current low nickel prices.
All parties also resolved that the outstanding K10 million BDG was a political commitment by the government and all administrative avenues have been exhausted.
“MRA has submitted a NEC submission for Mining Minister to take to Prime Minister and NEC and Cabinet for their blessing to release the Grant and now waiting respond from the Prime Minister,”
Mr Samar said. On the issue of spin-off business opportunities, all parties agreed to convene a forum on December 14, in Madang to deliberate on the matter.
“The MRA to release a letter detailing program and what is expected at the forum and RamuNiCo to assist by reviewing all contracts and find opportunities were possible for the Lancosto participate.”
Meanwhile, RamuNiCo has expressed concern that since the inception of the project in 2006, landowners were off-loaded numerous business opportunities but have not prospered due to lack of competent management acumen.
“The business development opportunities that have been given to landowners will need to be properly managed to ensure stakeholders benefit from these opportunities,” they said.