MAC: Mines and Communities

Papua New Guinea Update

Published by MAC on 2006-04-13

Papua New Guinea Update

13th April 2006

As the PNG Post-Courier reports that the contentious Kainantu mine is shut down by landowners claiming title at the site, a letter-writer demands that there should be no lifting of the exploration moratorium on Bougainville or re-opening of the Panguna mine until compensation has been paid for the lives lost in the civil war.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier

13 April 2006

New mine work halted

OPERATIONS at the recently commissioned Kainantu gold mine were suspended yesterday due to security concerns posed by landowners who claimed the land in the mine area. The decision by operator Highlands Kainantu Limited to suspend operations became effective at 11am yesterday after the Barola Kafe clan and other groups claimed to be landowners of the mine site. Highlands Pacific Limited said the security threat was a result of the claimants' frustration with the Land Titles Commission (LTC) which was charged with the determination of land ownership at the Kainantu mine site. The LTC began hearing claims to land ownership in May 2004 but went into recession in May last year due to lack of funding from the National Government. It started hearing again in November last year but again went into recession a month later - again due to lack funding. Highlands Pacific Limited said yesterday that the threat posed by the claimant groups was being investigated by police and government officials who were in discussion with the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute. The company said it was co-operating fully with this initiative. Chairman Bob Bryan said the safety of the company's employees, contractors and the communities in the vicinity of the mine site was the paramount consideration of the investor in taking the action to suspend operations. He said the mine would not be re-opened until Highlands Pacific was confident that there was no ongoing security risk to its employees or the company's properties. Mr Bryan said he also noted that the claimant groups with the LTC process was understandable and said that the company shared the wish to see the Land Titles Commission process completed as soon as possible. The company, however, said that threats to employees and property were totally counterproductive as well as being unlawful.

Letter to the Editor: Panguna must pay out

AS a silent non-landowner of "blood washed" Panguna mine, we feel betrayed by the noise being made by the landowners, the Papua New Guinea Government, Rio Tinto Zinc and the ABG. This is over the lifting of the exploration moratorium on Bougainville or the re-opening of the Panguna mine. Thank you President Joseph Kabui for telling the PNG Government and RTZ not to dictate policies on any mining on Bougainville. We suggest the ABG develop a strategy with all parties and also plan to compensate the 20,000-plus lives lost as a result of the civil war before mining resumes. - John Amparoria, Arawa

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