There has been a barrage of media recently about mining companies teaming up with a range of parters to deliver health-care and other services direct to the community.
Newcrest Mining and the Australian government have announced a partnership to improve maternal health, Exxon-Mobil is partnering the Cancer Foundation and The Voice, Barrick Gold is delivering agriculture training in Porgera.
Praise be to the resource companies, willing and able to step in where government fails its people – and no matter the role these same companies play in causing the very diseases, illnesses and other problems they are so happy to patch up with their band-aid PR!
But there is an even more sinister side to these good news stories that further illustrates how mining and other resource companies feed off a corrupt and dysfunctional government.
If government was doing its job and delivering decent basic services to the population, mining and resource companies would not have the opportunity to appear as ‘knights in shining armour’ the good news stories would disappear and, most importantly, customary landowners would not feel compelled to give away their land in the desperate hope that mining and logging companies might provide some basic services.
Resource companies are able to thrive in PNG because of, not despite, a corrupt and dysfunctional government. They rely on bad governance to open the doors to what they most desire – land and the resources it contains.
No matter the environmental and community destruction, their logging and mining cause, no matter the deaths, the violence against women, the unwanted pregnancies, the rape and prostitution, the pollution of rivers and loss of sustainable livelihoods when they can parade their social conscience in the media and have us all believe they are our saviours – just as long as we continue to give them what is most precious to us, OUR LAND!