“Minister Tuke welcomed these concerns and promised to have responsible agencies address them in the right processes, however he called to have the mine agreement formalized before the November APEC meeting, a time frame which seems unreal given the outstanding issues of identifying other affected landowner groups and addressing their concerns”
Gabriel Lahoc | NBC News | 12 July 2018
The planned Wafi-Golpu mine pipeline, which will run out from the mine site from the borders of Bulolo and Huon Gulf districts, across the Markham river and ending in the industrial hub of Lae, has come under attack.
Leaders from the Ahi tribe, notably from Butibam village, and the Wafi-Golpu Mine Area Landowners Association, surprised the organisers and the guests when they interjected at the closing of the Wafi-Golpu mine project development forum yesterday at the Sir Ignatius Kilage stadium in Lae.
Chairman of the Wafi-Golpu Mine Area Landowners Association, Holmes Kissing, faced the guests, which included Mining Minister Johnson Tuke Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu, Communications and Energy Minister and Bulolo MP Sam Basil, Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour, Menyamya MP Thomas Pelika, Tewai-Siassi MP Dr Kobby Bomareo, Mineral Resources Authority Executive Manager Sean Ngansia, Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture senior executives and the chairmen of the three primary landowners groups, Yanta, Hengambu and Babuaf, and expressed the people’s disappointment in their handling of the negotiations relating to the project.
This first ever forum is where all stakeholders were supposed to meet together and participate in discussions, but according to the frustated Ahi and other mine affected communities, not all stakeholder groups were ever consulted or invited to express themselves.
Mr Kissing, who is also from Butibam, shouted down the master of ceremony who was closing the first day open session, and was allowed by Minister Tuke, to air their grievances.
Mr Kissing, pointed out Morobe Deputy Provincial Administrator Masayat Moat, for failing in his leadership to get as many and all concerned parties together in the negotiations and discussions leading to the forum.
He told the national leaders and Wafi-Golpu JV executives that there were several outstanding issues as the planned pipeline will run through traditional land of several tribes and communities from outside and within Lae city and the fact that the state has not yet compensated the rightful landowners for the Lae Tidal Basin port and Lae city and that only one Ahi village of Wagang, where the pipe will end, was included as a stakeholder.
Reflecting on the mistakes of Hidden Valley mine, Mr Kissing warned that the livelihood of the people in and around the mine area, to those along the rivers and along the nearby coastline will be affected, and the frustrated locals will rise up against the developer and the government if they ignore these issues and concerns and sign any agreements and deals.
Mr Seymour and Mr Basil, admitted that the majority of the affected people are not yet ready for the mine and vowed to task the provincial administration to help identify affected communities and involve them, .
Minister Tuke welcomed these concerns and promised to have responsible agencies address them in the right processes, however in his speech he called to have the mine agreement formalized before the November APEC meeting, a time frame which seems unreal given the outstanding issues of identifying other affected landowner groups and addressing their concerns.