The National aka The Loggers times | December 17, 2018
Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu, says alternatives to mining such as tourism and agriculture will be developed in the province.
He told The National that Morobe had a thriving agricultural sector and an undeveloped tourism industry which had huge potential.
Explaining why he had refused to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture last week, the governor declared that Morobe did not recognise it as it was not for the good of the province.
“When I stood for election in 2017, I spoke about ‘kisim bek Morobe (taking back Morobe)’,” he said.
“Kisim bek Morobe means that anything that is wrong in Morobe, or anything that the people need, we will work hard for them.
“I want to make sure that people of Morobe gain enough.
“My position is for the people of Morobe, not for Ginson Saonu, not for any political party’s interest, not for anybody who wants to bribe me.”
Meanwhile, Saonu has expressed concern about the proposed dumping of Wafi-Golpu mine tailings into the Huon Gulf.
He supported coastal villagers of Morobe, from Morobe Post along the border with Northern to the Siassi Islands bordering West New Britain, who stand to be affected by a massive outflow of tailings.
The villagers depend on the sea for the livelihood, he said.
The Huon Gulf is also one of the few habitats in the world for leatherback turtle nesting.
Saonu is well aware of the fragile environment of the gulf and urged the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture to look at other alternatives,
“We have to listen to the people,” Saonu told The National.
“People are not like before, when they had no knowledge, no idea, no education to read what’s happening in other parts of the world where there is environmental damage and so forth. Everybody is knowledgeable about what’s happening in other mines around the world, and even in Papua New Guinea like Ok Tedi, Bougainville and others.
“They are mindful of the environment.”
Saonu said the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea had made itself clear that it wanted a tailings dam and not a pipe leading into the sea.
“If the people and the church want a tailings dam, it has to be a tailings dam – not put a pipe through to the sea and damage the environment,” he said.
The mine is to dump its tailings into the waters of the Huon Gulf, according to an updated feasibility study report released earlier this year.
The report said three types of tailings management options had been considered during various studies undertaken since 2012: Various terrestrial tailings storage facilities, dry-stacking and deep-sea tailings placement (DSTP).
However, it ruled out various tailings storage facilities and dry-stacking, and opted for deep-sea tailings placement.
“Deep-sea tailings placement studies have been conducted as part of the 2017-18 work programme,” the report said.
“Oceanographic and environmental studies in the Western Huon Gulf to date have confirmed that area to be a highly-suitable environment for deep-sea tailings placement.
“It hosts a deep canyon leading to a very deep oceanic basin with no evidence of upwelling of deeper waters to the surface.
“The tailings are expected to mix and co-deposit with a significant, naturally occurring loading of riverine sediments from the Markham, Busu and other rivers that also are conveyed via the Markham Canyon to the deep sea.”
PNG has three existing active deep-sea tailings placement operations (Lihir, Simberi, and Ramu Nickel), one permitted (Woodlark) and one closed (Misima).