Bulolo authorities condemn protest at PNG's Wafi-Golpu

3:13 pm on 16 January 2019

Authorities in Papua New Guinea's Bulolo district have condemned protesters who forced a shut down of a major mine in the area last week.

Sam Basil

Sam Basil Photo: Facebook

The management of the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture suspended exploration activity after a group, claiming to be landowners, threatened to enter the site.

The group opposes a memorandum of understanding signed by PNG's government and the developer last month.

It made a range of demands, including equity in the project, royalties and hundreds of million kina in compensation for construction work on customary land.

Bulolo MP, Sam Basil, met with local landowners on the matter and told EMTV the protesters were not recognised landowner groups.

"We call on the company, we will call on the provincial government, the Mineral Resources Authority, the Mining Department, and the Mining Minister, we will call on them to ensure that any grievances that are brought aside from these legitimate (landowner) people that are standing here, will be an act of being illegal."

The Bulolo District Administrator, Tae Guambalek, also came out strongly against the protesters, saying it was unacceptable for people to trespass on the company's property.

However, the Oro Governor Gary Juffa, applauded the protesters, saying the government had kept local people in the dark about the mining agreement.

Mr Juffa said the Wafi-Golpu project was another example of a resource extractive project in PNG which is geared towards benefiting interests other than the local community.

But the Mining Minister Johnson Tuke said the project agreement had not been finalised yet, and said people shouldn't take out their frustrations on the company.