Zombi Kep | Post Courier | August 5, 2019
Majority landowner representatives are calling on Prime Minister James Marape to extend his ‘Take Back PNG’ campaign by taking back the Porgera gold mine from operator Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL).
Acting through the Justice Foundation of Porgera, 18 out of 24 landowner agents who signed the MOA in 1969, are urging the PM to act on his word by taking back Porgera gold mine from Barrick.
In a recent press conference in Port Moresby, chairman of Justice Foundation for Porgera Mr Jonathan Paraia, claiming to speak for the 18 landowner agents, declared their intention to take 100 per cent ownership.
“Enga must own the land which was given to us by God and the 95 per cent that is leaving the country for Canada must stay back in the country,” said Mr Paraia.
“We own all the resources in the country, yet all the resources are leaving the country.”
He said if the profits were retained, a lot of people from Porgera, Enga and PNG as a whole will be employed and there will be surplus of money owing into the country.
“That’s why when the mining lease expires, we are putting our resolution up to government not to renew the agreement.”
He said according to the Mining Act, anything six foot underground belongs to the State and the State should have full ownership of the mine and its profits.
But he claims the ownership had somehow passed onto foreigners. “Over the last 30 years, 95 per cent is owned by Barrick and nothing is coming back to us, even the country is missing out on it,” said Paraia.
“But now as the mining lease is expiring, PNG must own this mine.”
He said that just like the government taking over OK Tedi, they want to take ownership of the Porgera mine to resettle the landowners affected, pay proper compensation, and deliver proper services.
“The government must allow us to take over the mine so that all the damages that were done to Porgera will be fixed by ourselves,” he said.
“The things that Barrick has failed to do today; we want to do ourselves.”
He stressed that the mine will continue to operate just as it is but the ownership needs to change. “All the workers will be intact and all contractors will remain but the ownership must change.”
Former Laigaip Porgera MP Nickson Mangape who is also one of the 18 landowner agents, brushed aside comments made on social media that they are incapable of owning the mine.
“You people kept asking who will take over Porgera gold mine and saying that it’s too complicated on Facebook,” explained Mr Mangape.
“You look at OK Tedi, the government of the day took over. This is the same thing that we want with Porgera.”
He said there is no difference.
“About 33 per cent went to landowners (Ok Tedi) and 67 per cent went to the government, the same will happen with Porgera.
Enough is enough,” he said.
Meantime the National Court in Waigani ruled last week Friday that BNL and Mineral Resources Enga (PJV) will continue mining after the August 16 expiry of the mine’s SML.
Following the ruling, BNL president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow said a total of K20 million in royalties for landowners are withheld as a result of ongoing legacy issues.
Mr Bristow also said the company has funded a lot of training initiatives and to date, the total value of K544 million including donations has provided schools, health services, water, power, bridges and roads in support with the local government to change the lives of the people for the better.
He said the company has also made a commitment following its recent meeting with Prime Minister James Marape that it would invest in the Paiam hospital to get it operational again.