The National aka The Loggers Times | June 6, 2018
TWO alluvial miners at Wau and Bulolo, in Morobe, have called on the Government to reduce the fees needed for mining licences to help keep local people in business.
Many miners have gone out of business because they cannot afford the fees, said one of the miners, George Waure, on Friday.
Waure, who has been engaged in alluvial mining for the past 14 years, said that originally no fees were charged and miners worked freely.
The miners were also concerned with the presence of foreigners in the industry, with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill forced to come out in Parliament last month to clarify that alluvial mining was reserved for locals and not big businesses.
Westy Awiong, of Morobe Gold Field Small Scale Miners’ Association, said they were happy with the prime minister’s assurance.
Awiong said foreigners should not be involved in the sector.
“We have the experience as some of us have been mining for many years,” he said.
“If we are given financial assistance to purchase the right machines we can upgrade to commercial mining.”
Last month, Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu pointed out in Parliament that big companies were now getting into alluvial mining.
In response, O’Neill said those companies must stay out of it.
Landowners in Morobe have rejected an application by Wabu Alluvial Limited and Harmony Gold Exploration Limited for exploration licences for Bulolo Valley.
“I’m not privy to the letter that the governor is referring to, but I will instruct the mining department to look into the matter and respond in writing so that his concerns and our people’s concerns are being addressed properly.
“Generally, I support the call by the governor and the people (that) alluvial mining should be reserved for our people and not necessarily large international companies.
“I understand Harmony and the other companies have applied for exploration licences which are different from alluvial mining.”