Governor speaks on Frieda Mine Situation

I am not confident that CEPA has the capacity or the capability to properly and professionally review the EIS

Allan Bird | via Facebook | 26 September 2019

My position has been consistent from day one. While I appreciate the riches and the proposed business model for the mine, my bottom line is the safety of the Sepik River. If the safety of the river cannot be guaranteed, then we can’t mine until there is technology available that can do this safely.

The Sepik River is not just a supplier of fish, turtles, prawns, eels and crocodiles. It’s a spiritual icon for all of us. My people also came from the river. We can substitute the animals from the river with other proteins but the Sepik is one the of last unspoilt rivers in the world, perhaps the only last remaining unpolluted river. There is no substitute for the Sepik River.

Governments of the past have pursued economic growth at the expense of the environment. We can’t afford to do the same. We have to exercise great responsibility. We live in a world of climate change and massive environmental degradation. We would be stupid to go down the same road and knowingly destroy our environment in exchange for money.

Early this year, I gave a direction that the Special Advisory team that has been in touch with us be activated to work on the EIS to provide independent advice to the Provincial Government. I have waited patiently for the mining desk to do this through the office of the Administrator and I have been following up diligently. Unfortunately, this has not eventuated.

Yesterday I discovered that our mining desk may have compromised their position by certain actions they have taken without informing the PA. The independence of the mining desk has now been brought into question. This won’t do.

This agenda is critical but it seems certain public servants do not appear to place the same level of urgency or exercise wisdom and good judgement on matters that are of serious public importance.

Given the lack of response to our queries from CEPA I am not confident that CEPA has the capacity or the capability to properly and professionally review the EIS. The responsibility for the safety of the Sepik River rests with the ESPG and the Sepik people. It is our responsibility and we take that responsibility very seriously.

Effectively immediately, I have requested the PA to convene our advisory team and there will be a lock up to fully review the EIS. At the end of this process we will give a response to all parties based on our assessment of the EIS. I will be personally taking charge of the team.

It is our wish to portray to all investors, particularly those who are coming for Agriculture and other businesses that ESPG is not anti- business. That we are intelligent and we will discharge all our responsibilities in a manner which is professional and fair and that all businesses will be subject to the same rigorous process when the safety of the environment and the livelihoods of ordinary people might be at risk.

On behalf of the ESPG, can I ask all our people to remain calm during this period. For Frieda Mine to proceed, two approvals are critical, the approval of the WSP Assembly and the ESP Assembly.

I assure all our people the approval from our Assembly will not be done hastily but with prudence and wisdom. We have not reached a stage where we have sufficient evidence to give our approval and that is where the matter remains.

Our silence does not signify approval. It signifies that we understand that we have a responsibility to demonstrate professionalism in the conduct of our work. Since we do not fully understand the EIS, we would be irresponsible to comment on it and make a case one way or the other.

Yupla trustim mi na yupla givim mi displa wok.

Mi askim yupla long belisi na noken wokim stupid blo yumi. Yupla wanbel na larim mipla kisim ol experts long mekim displa wok. Nogat wanpla longlong man, aipas man o yaupas man holim ol displa wok.

Trustim mipla long mekim displa wok. Em tasol mi askim yupla olgeta.

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2 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

2 responses to “Governor speaks on Frieda Mine Situation

  1. Firman Aiyele

    It would be better if you do sampling analysis concurrently while reviewing EIS. Note that reviewing EIS would do nothing if you dont have current results at hand.

    Mining is already in operation and need to do compliance check as well to confirm that they are in compliance with what they have set out in EMP as per permit issued by CEPA.
    Thanks.

  2. Ishmael Hinae

    I totally agree with the Governor’s statement. The sepik river is a very complex ecosystem that supports network of biological and socio-economical environments which we are yet to fully understand.

    Though nature has the ability to recover after been exploited, the impact of such mass operation as mining will be irreversible. Just see what ok tedi mine has done to Fly river.
    Even implementation of state of the art environmental management systems will not guarantee total protection of the environment.
    If the government and the landowners wish to proceed with the mining operation, they must be willing to accept incremental changes to the sepik river system.

    The reviewing of the EIS is to identify gaps and criticize methods suggested by developer to mitigate potential environmental impacts associated with the mines construction and operation will have on the sepik river and surrounding environment and suggest alternative measures. It does not necessary mean ensuring total prevention of all environmental damages.

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