MP dispels claims for opposing miner in PNG's Enga

10:41 am on 5 October 2018

A Papua New Guinea MP says a group opposing a mining company's presence in his district does not represent local landowners.

A protest against Barrick Gold.

A protest against Barrick Gold. Photo: Facebook/ Kelly Taila

The Canadian company Barrick Gold is seeking to renew its licence at the Porgera mine in Enga, which it and Chinese miner ZiJin each own a 47.5 percent stake in.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera group, which claims to represent landowners, is urging the government to reject the licence application.

It said Barrick's operations have caused great environmental damage and extensive human rights abuses.

However, Lagaip Porgera MP, Tomait Kapili said he believes the license will be renewed, but on improved equity terms.

"I'm ready to negotiate with Barrick and ZiJin on those funds, not to accuse them of this and that, and then tell them you've done enough damage, we take over the mine and all that.

"They have big investment in there, they are not going to move out. None of the allegations have been tested, except for the security guards' harassment of ladies."

Justice Foundation for Porgera's chairman Jonathan Paraia said the mine had caused irreparable environmental damage and failed to deliver promised benefits for the community.

He said repeated rapes of local girls by Barrick's security guards have also left a legacy.

"Over the years there are a lot of issues affecting landowners, caused by the company, and there is no remedy. It's now thirty years. They want Barrick out of Porgera, or Papua New Guinea. They want the mine to operate but they want to change the ownership rights."

But Mr Kapili said the Justice Foundation for Porgera group was falsely purporting to represent landowners, and had little grounds on which to oppose Barrick's operaions.

Mr Kapili, who said the Porgera Landowners Association remained the legitimate local landowner representative body, predicted that Barrick's license would be approved, but on improved terms.

"Improved terms to the landowners, the district Development Authority, the provincial government and the national government," the MP said, adding that an increase in equity participation was the aim.

"We'll need to amend the Mining Act to increase the 2 percent royalty up to about 10 percent."

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