Principal landowners of the special mining lease area of the Ok Tedi mine want the government-sanctioned investigations into BHP’s exit and the establishment of PNG Sustainable Development Program terms of reference widened to cover environmental damage and lost benefits for mine pit landowners.
Following their recent long standing court victory which determined true ownership of the mine pit landownership, Kimka Sepiyan Tribe Land Group Incorporated called on the investigation team to establish whether a proper agreement was signed before the commencement of mining operations in 1976, and importantly, why mine pit villages had not been included initially as major beneficiaries.
Group spokesman Paul Eddie said such a probe would reveal that neither social mapping nor proper landowner identification process was followed to determine the true landowners.
“I call upon the O’Neill government to extend the investigations in order to establish if there was any agreement signed at the initial stages of mining, and if so, why were the principal landowners not consulted,” he said.
“The state has a duty to protect the rights of the people, especially resource owners and it is a crime on the part of BHP not to have consulted with the genuine landowners.”
Mr Eddie said if the state and BHP had previously dealt with any so-called landowners, then they were not the legitimate mine pit landowners, as millions of kina had already been wasted on these people.
“I urge the investigation team to ‘leave no stone unturned’ by uncovering and penalising any individual or group that had received benefits single-handedly from the start of the mine operations,” he said.
The minepit landowners also want these benefits in the form of equity payments, dividend and business development grants that purportedly went into the wrongs hands over many years to be fully-reimbursed by Ok Tedi Mining Limited and also the state.