MAC: Mines and Communities

Landowners threaten to close Wau mine in PNG

Published by MAC on 2009-06-08
Source: Postcourier (PNG) (2009-06-03)

A landowner group from Wau where the Hidden Valley Gold mine is located in Morobe province will take a court injunction this month to shut down mining operations.

Landowners from the Nakuwi Landowners Association, who own 75 percent of the mining lease area, told Post Courier that they were taking court action because the company was not awarding them contracts and other spin-off benefits as agreed to under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) they signed on 25th October 2005.

Landowner chairman Rex Mauri said lawyers were engaged already to get a restraining order from the National Court to stop any mining activities from taking place.

Mr Mauri said the court order will be served to Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) on the 23rd and 24th of this month during the Hidden Valley project review meeting in Port Moresby.

Mr Mauri said they have taken this action because MMJV had been overlooked.

We, as landowners have been mere spectators, without having spin off benefits from MMJV. We have been tricked, used and overlooked by the company," Mr Mauri said.

He claimed that after the MOA signing, the landowners have not been awarded projects, adding that the move was taken to stop the mining before the gold was taken out.

Mr Mauri claimed that the developer, MMJV failed consistently over the years in abiding by the MOA on issues concerning landowner participating in spin off projects.

He also claimed that MMJV was playing the "divide and rule" tactic to prolong spin-off projects, distribution of contracts and left out on the Hidden Valley Landowner Benefit Fund Trust Board.

The Chairman said these issues forced them to take out the court order.

"They (MMJV) will not get our gold, unless and until we are fully satisfied. MMJV has to come and settle the previous outstanding issues. Enough is enough, action is much better than words. One gold bar will not get out of Hidden Valley until these issues are settled," Mr Mauri said.

He also said Harmony Gold Limited and Newcrest Mining from Australia were not recognising the plight of the landowners, adding that the executives of both companies were the ones behind the outstanding landowner issues.

He said during the MOA signing, there seemed to be a good understanding between the company and landowners but that has changed and they do not want it to continue.
The only option for MMJV to settle the outstanding landowner issues was to close the mine for an indefinite time.

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