MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Threat to shut OK Tedi down

Published by MAC on 2003-01-28


Threat to shut OK Tedi down

Business (Post Courier), Papua New Guinea

28th January, 2003

Western Province Governor Dr Bob Danaya yesterday threatened to join landowners and shut the OK Tedi mine if OTML did not shed more light on the Singapore-based PNG Sustainable Development Program Limited (PNGSDP).

The PNGSDP holds 52 per cent in OK Tedi shares, which former OK Tedi owner BHP-Billiton transferred to the overseas company under a deal struck last year with the previous government headed by former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta.

PNGSDP holds the shares in trust on behalf of the people of Western Province and Papua New Guinea.

Dr Danaya also called on OK Tedi Mining Limited and PNGSDP to ensure the provincial government and landowners were actively involved in all issues relating to the mine.

He said this yesterday outside a conference room in a Port Moresby hotel where OTML and PNGSDP executives were meeting. North Fly MP Martin Tabi and Middle Fly MP Roy Biyama accompanied Dr Danaya.

"Previous governments have failed to address the issue and the OK Tedi management has had little dialogue with the provincial government. (But) we are no longer going to be taken for a ride. The provincial government is going to be actively involved to ensure that (when) they (OTML) leave, they would hand over the reins to the provincial government to ensure the continuity of development services," Dr Danaya said.

"We received a letter from the Prime Minister to all parties including the landowners and yet OTML sees fit not to include landowners (at the meeting). The non-involvement of landowners is a concern; they are the very people you must have dialogue with. If you don't involve landowners, you are heading for trouble."

Dr Danaya said he and the other Western Province MPs tried to get the meeting deferred to today as the province's political leaders were yet to be briefed on the issues including PNGSDP. However, the meeting was convened yesterday without provincial government officials, national leaders and landowners.

"Fifty two per cent in OK Tedi shares are now sitting in Singapore, they are supposed to be a gift to the people of Western Province. It is a trade-off for the environmental damage (caused by the mine). It (shares) must be brought back to the Western Province people."

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