PNG landowners to challenge mine venture in court

11:46 am on 22 November 2018

Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has ruled that a challenge against the Porgera gold mine in Enga province can proceed.

Porgera mine.

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

A group of landowners is challenging the validity of a mining lease for the Porgera Joint Venture's open pit and underground operations.

The venture is 95 percent owned by Canadian company Barrick, and its Special Mining Lease is up for renewal next May.

Last week the national court issued a restraining order preventing the government and Barrick from progressing the renewal of the lease until next April because of the failure to consult with landowners as required by law.

A protest against Barrick Gold.

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

The Justice Foundation for Porgera Limited lodged the challenge two years ago.

Its chairman Jonathan Paraia said the joint venture's lease could not be renewed until the mining company addressed past grievances.

These included rapes of local women and girls by security guards at the mine, and displacement of local communities.

Mr Paraia said the mine had turned local people into refugees on their own land because as susbsistence people they need land in order to grow food to survive.