MAC/20: Mines and Communities

PNG landowners threaten close-down for world's leading gold company

Published by MAC on 2009-09-14

Early this month,a coalition of indigenous groups and landowners in Papua New Guinea announced that they would shut down Barrick Gold's Porgera Mine if the company fails to adequately respond to a petition issued by the mine's landowners on August 25, 2009

The petition is described by the landowners as a "boil over from enduring years of deprivation and marginalization" and addresses several immediate and long-standing concerns, including their inability to access fresh water from local creeks and streams, and the fact that company never fulfilled its promise to grant them great wealth, employment and luxuries.

The landowners say they cannot continue living as subsistence farmers when "[o]ur land is being taken by the mine and destroyed by the waste tailings and dumps.

"Moreover SML landowner population has increased over the eighteen years of mine operation. We are faced with over crowding and unhealthy livings. We are living as squatters in our own land. We cannot get bush materials to build our house and firewood for making fire. We can not get fresh water from our creeks and
streams. We are made to suffer in our own land while Barrick and the National Government is enjoying benefits from our resource and land."

The landowners' immediate priority is resettlement out of the affected mining lease area.

They also insist, inter alia, that there be no further mine expansion, and that Barrick must address alleged human rights abuses and pay adequate compensation.

"Living as squatters in our own land!"

PETITION

TO: THE RT. HON. SIR DR. PUKA TEMO
ACTING PRIME MINISTER & MINISTER FOR MINING,
LANDS AND PHYSCIAL PLANINIG
NATIONAL PARLIAMENT
WAIGANI

FROM: PORGERA SML LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION
Date: Tuesday 25th August, 2009

SUBJECT: CALL for RESETTLEMENT AND OTHERS

My name is Mark Tony Ekepa, I am the chairman of Porgera Landowners Association.

It is a great privileged to meet with you, I would like to say thank you on
behalf of the members of the Porgera Landowners for your time for this meeting.

First I would like to introduce the members of Porgera Landowners delegation. I
have with me:

Hon. John Pawe President Porgera Local Level Government Council
Hon. Girigi Daon President Paiela Hewa Local Government Council
Nixon Mangape Chairman Porgera Development Authority
Buxcy Makuale Chairman SML Youth Association
Mori Iarume Acting/Administrator Porgera District Administration
And;

25 x Land Negotiation Agents of the Special Mining Lease (Committees of PLOA)
1 x Councilor from Porgera Local Level Government Council
4 x Councilors from Paiela Local Level Government Council
9 x Board Members of Porgera Development Authority.
11 x Members of the SML Youth Association.

The Porgera landowner's petition dated 29th July 2009, to the Rt. Hon. Grand
Chief Sir Micheal T. Somare, Prime Minister and Minister for Autonomy and
Autonomous Region, was stem from negligence to address landowners issues. The
problems the landowners faced today and will continue to face by our generations
is introduced to us as a result of a multi international mining company's quest
for gold in our land. The problems faced by the landowners are not our making,
it was forced upon us and we can not cope with it any more.

The magnitude of the impacts and exploitation on life of SML landowners by
Barrick during every stage of the Porgera mine is appalling and relentless. The
resettlement petition is a sign of boil over effects of hardship, deprived,
marginalized from silent majority of people who own the very resource and land.

We were promised with social wages, (great wealth, employments and luxuries) and
we thought we will be rich overnight. We now find that we were being tricked to
get our resource and land, the social wage promises have never had come.

We are subsistence farmers, our life and our generation's life depend on the land. We
cannot continue to live as subsistence farmers, we lost all our land. Our land
is being taken by the mine and destroyed by the waste tailings and dumps. .

Moreover SML landowner population has increased over the eighteen years of mine
operation. We are faced with over crowding and unhealthy livings. We are living
as squatters in our own land. We cannot get bush materials to build our house
and firewood for making fire. We can not get fresh water from our creeks and
streams. We are made to suffer in our own land while Barrick and the National
Government enjoying benefits from our resource and land.

Therefore we petition with the strongest possible terms that the National
Government and Barrick immediately act on these matters with number one priority
on;

1. Resettle Special Mining Lease Landowners out of the Special Mining Lease
area.

2. Immediately cease construction of the fencing and divert the fund to resettle
landowners.

3. Barrick must not construct any new major mine expansion projects.

4. And others:

4.1 Barrick must provide the mine plan to the landowners.

4.2 Barrick must restore Fly in Fly out agreement or compensate for the FIFO
agreement.

4.3 Barrick must address the human rights abuse and death compensation issue
connected from the mines operation.

4.4 The National Government must immediately released outstanding MOA funds of
800 Million Kina due to PDA.

4.5 The National Government must buy back 2.5% landowners shares in Mineral
Resources Enga.

The overall decision from the Papua New Guinea Government and Barrick Gold must
be to come up with a immediate resettlement package and ensure that other out
standing issue are settled to relief the potential to stop a trickle down
effect.

The issues relating to resettlement (land and food security, deaths,
environment, so call illegal mining and, law and order, sustainable life after
mine closer) must be dealt with at all levels as a matter of urgency.

The PNG government knows the fact that Porgera mine generates about 14% of the
GDP and must take the lead role within the given time frame in providing and
facilitating consultation, and dialogue to effect settlement to prevent force
mine closer.

Whereas, given the fact that PNG Government and Barrick are blamed for
deliberately neglecting the rights of landowners. And therefore, the SML
landowners are compelled to petition the PNG Government and Barrick Gold that
both are obliged to resettle the landowners and address the other issues and
that shall be within 30 days from the 25th August, 2009, the date of this
petition delivered to the highest office in PNG.

Further, note that Barrick has reaffirm Porgera has proven itself a world class
mine and extension of the mine life beyond 2020 do justifies and supported by
studies from Glen Banks, URS and Porgera Investigation Committee Report headed
by Dr. John Luluaki of UPNG established that Resettlement is the solution to
Porgera's problems.

Thank you.

Mark Tony Ekepa
Chairman
Porgera Landowners Association
PORGERA LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION
P.O. BOX 143
PAIAM, PORGERA
ENGA PROVINCE

Phone: (675) 547 6024 Fax: (675) 547 6042 E_Mail: pla@daltron.com.pg

 

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