“The truth is that our country is at a crisis point. If we do not correct some very serious faults and failures in how we approach the extraction of resources such as minerals, gas and oil we will not only continue to fail to deliver progress to our people, we will put the very survival of our country at peril.”
Editorial | The Sunday Bulletin | 2 December 2018
THIS week Papua New Guinea’s expanding resources industry will be showcased at a three-day PNG Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference.
Widely regarded as the nation’s premier international conference, will be held from 3 to 5 December 2018 at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel in Australia.
We understand that speakers will include the PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, along with a number of government ministers who will provide delegates with insights into the government’s policies in areas such as energy and environmental protection.
The PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum in its media release hinted that an important project that will be featured during the conference is the country’s upcoming Papua LNG project, of which a Memorandum of Understanding on this project was signed by the project’s joint venture partners Oil Search, Total and ExxonMobil and the PNG Government during the summit.
The Wafi-Golpu project, a 50-50 joint venture project owned by Australian-owned Newcrest Mining, and South African mining giant Harmony Gold which early works is expected to start in a few years will be a main draw-card for conference delegates.
While the current focus is showcasing our vast mining and petroleum potential to prospecting investors, there is a real need to correct PNG’s mining laws.
The review of mining legislation (The Mining Act 1992) is long overdue in Papua New Guinea. There have been some attempts made in recent times but nothing is forthcoming. How serious Government is about this review? It seems to have been carried out with very little urgency.
We have seen very little in the way of radical suggestions for changes in the way mining is done in Papua New Guinea.
For the truth is that our country is at a crisis point. If we do not correct some very serious faults and failures in how we approach the extraction of resources such as minerals, gas and oil we will not only continue to fail to deliver progress to our people, we will put the very survival of our country at peril.
We need a new vision for resource extraction. We need to make some hard decisions, not just make little changes around the edges. For example, we need to decide that the people own the resources. Not the government. Not outsiders. It’s the people. And we need to ensure that there is an equitable distribution of the benefits – not only to landowners, the affected areas, provinces and government, but to the entire nation. This is what our country cries for today, and this is what we must provide.
But to develop a strategy of sustainable prosperity, we must first understand the mistakes we have made in the past and continue to make. Someone must tell this story or we will never correct our mistakes.
The Mining Act 1992. That Act declares: ‘All minerals existing on, in or below the surface of any land in Papua New Guinea, including any minerals contained in any water lying on any land in Papua New Guinea, are the property of the State’.
The Oil and Gas Act 1998 makes a similar declaration in respect of oil and gas reserves throughout PNG.
The State has unilaterally wrested ownership of all wealth on or below the ground from the people who owned those resources for 40,000 years.
What we need now is for the government to change the much talked about Mining Act 1992 so that our resource owners get a fair share of the resource wealth that’s derived from their land.