Post Courier | November 9, 2018
Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu has raised concerns on the pending signing of a special mining lease between the developer of the Wafi-Golpu mine in Morobe Province and the government during the APEC summit next week.
He cited sources from social media who had released a report saying there was already a memorandum of agreement in place, established by the Mining Act.
The issue was interrupted by a court case and the signing of the special mining lease is expected to take place in 2019.
Mr Saonu directed his concerns to the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill during question time in Parliament.
“Would you please confirm or deny, whether the government has agreed to sign a heads of agreement at the APEC Summit? Why was the Morobe provincial government and stakeholders not consulted?’’ Mr Saonu asked.
‘‘If the proposed signing of the heads of agreement is true, will you inform all the stakeholders landowners, state entities and the people of Morobe on what the agreement is all about?’’
He went on to ask the prime minister if it was still necessary to continue and complete the due process and what would be the legal consequences of abandoning the process.
In response Mr O’Neill said: “Mr Speaker our government has appointed a state negotiating team. Technical people from the Mining Department, Treasury, State Solicitors office and other government agencies are dealing directly with Wafi Golpu developers, particularly Newcrest and Harmony.
“They continue to discuss the way forward in continuing to develop this mine The negotiations are still in its early stages and there have been no briefings to cabinet or to the prime minister.
“I don’t see any mine development agreement being signed around APEC and certainly any agreement that needs to be signed will be in full consultation with Morobe provincial government and the people of Wau Bulolo particularly the landowners.”
Mr O’Neill said any understanding reached with the developer was about the program going forward.
‘‘There would not be any legally binding agreement but for the benefits of investors and potential financiers of the project, the government and its developers wants to give a clear position about its intentions to develop the mine,” he said.