Sepik villagers formally challenge plans for giant mine

1:28 pm on 9 December 2021

2,638 people from 64 villages along the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea have taken action to stop a huge copper/gold mining project.

The project is planned at the head waters of a vital waterway by PanAust, the Australian subsidiary of a Chinese Government owned company.

The complaint has been lodged with the Australian National Contact point for the OECD.

The communities are represented by Project Sepik Inc and environmental campaigners, Jubilee Australia.

Frieda River heading north to join the Sepik River.

Frieda River heading north to join the Sepik River. Photo: Facebook - SEPIK Capital, PNG - Wewak Urban Local Level Government

Project Sepik's Emmanuel Peni said they want the company to stop the development until they have addressed the defects that have already been pointed out by eminent scientists.

"We want them to halt the development and have an independently conducted and confirmed free, prior and informed consent process, so that we believe in the process." he said.

"The people along the river, 400 thousand or so people have been resisting, not just this mining company, but all mining companies that have tried to develop the place."

The Sepik River meanders for more than 1100 kilometres through Sepik.

The mine itself, which would be the biggest such development in PNG, is near the Frieda River, a tributary of the Sepik.