MAC: Mines and Communities

Papua New Guinea villagers concerned about impacts of valley mine

Published by MAC on 2010-02-01
Source: The PNG National (2010-01-04)

Papua New Guinea's Morobe Joint Venture mine is owned by Harmony and Newcrest. It has a chequered history, having been explored, tested and controlled by Rio Tinto-CRA until 1998.

Villagers near the mine report that all fish have disappeared from their rivers, while a local councillor is calling for a comprehensive environmental impact study, to determine the extent of pollution.

Concerns over impact of valley mine

The PNG National

4 January 2010

THE people of Labu-Buttu village near Lae have called on the Government to order an environmental impact study into the effects of the Hidden Valley gold mine on their lives.

At a New Year's Day meeting, they expressed concern that their lives were seriously threatened by the mine and nothing was done by the national and Morobe provincial governments.

The villagers reported at the meeting that prawns, eels and cat fish, which used to be caught in abundance from the lower part of the Markham River, had completely disappeared during the past two years.

The fishermen, who normally fish at the mouth of the Markham River, had also reported that the fish they normally caught were no longer there.

Villagers making their gardens along the banks of the river had reported a rise in sediment at the bottom of the Markham River had forced the river to spill into their gardens.

They also reported finding dead fish floating in the water near the mouth of the Markham River and near the beaches at Labu-Buttu village.

Labu-Buttu fishermen told the meeting they were no longer catching the same numbers of fish as they used to in the past and that the seas now seemed empty of fish stocks.

Councillor Jeffery Tipi said the people wanted a comprehensive environmental impact study to determine the level of mine pollution in the Markham River and sea around the Huon Gulf.

They also wanted a proper study on the fish and other water resources which the people depended on.

At the meeting, they also stressed that they were not being properly informed about the effects of the Hidden Valley gold mine on their livelihood, especially the negative impacts.

They called on the provincial government, its administration and the Morobe Mining Joint Venture to go to the village and explain if any compensation would be paid for the loss of income and food sources as a result of the effects of the mine on the river and marine life.

At the meeting, the people also expressed concern that they were not included in the memorandum of agreement signed between the mining company and the provincial government on compensation for communities affected by the operations of the mine.

"The Markham Bridge, which is the lifeline to the Hidden Valley gold mine, passes through our land to Wau yet we are not included in the agreement as an affected community," Mr Tipi said.

"There is something really wrong with this agreement and we call for amendments to include us," he said. The villagers formed a committee to take their concerns up with the mining company and the provincial government.


Mining is destroying Markham River: Wampar LLG councillor

by DOREEN POLOH WAIM

The PNG National

4 January 2010

A WARD councillor from the Wampar LLG in Huon Gulf, says continuous pollution from Hidden Valley mine in Bulolo has affected the communities living along the Markham River.

Douglas Gedisa said since the mine started four years ago, chemical had polluted the river system and had made the water unsafe to use and drink.

He said the lives of more than 1,000 people were affected because they depended on the river for domestic use and fishing.

Most gardens by the river side had also been affected, Mr Gedisa said.

He said there were instances where dead fish were found floating on the river or lying near the river banks.

"People were also getting sores on their skin after bathing in the river."

Mr Gedisa said his people were facing health risks and environmental damages. He urged the Morobe provincial government and the Morobe Mining Joint Venture to seriously look into the issue.

Mr Gedisa said in order to avoid using the river the communities needed water supply or water storage facilities. He said that the mining company had to make consideration for compensation for the affected communities since the start of the pollution.

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