THE Ok Tedi Mine Ltd “landowners” who met with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill last week are not legitimate, says the Ok Tedi Mine Impacted Area Association president Nick Bunn.
In a new twist to the long running saga over the ownership of the Western Province mine, the president said his group should not be overlooked by the Government in its negotiations with the various groups. Mr Bunn wants a 2006 agreement signed between them, the Government and the Ok Tedi Mine Ltd to be reviewed and all outstanding compensation monies paid before new agreements can be penned with the various landowner groups.
“OTMIAA is the legitimate umbrella organisation representing all 156 mine affected areas along the Fly River and as such must be involved in any proceedings regarding the people before decisions for the people are made for the people to benefit,” Mr Bunn said.
“OTMIAA should not be overlooked when it was established by OTML and the government themselves as the rightful umbrella organisation representing the people of the affected areas.
“There are two groups of landowners being the 12 mine lease area villagers unaffected by environmental damages discharged from the Ok Tedi mine (the mine landowners) and the CMCA landowners (those people who have been affected by the mine along the Fly River) comprising of 156 villagers more than 100,000 living along the Ok Tedi and Fly river systems directly affected by the pollution from the mine.”
The decision by the Government to transfer the shares in the gold and copper mine company to the people is also a step in the right direction, he said while emphasising that consultation with the various groups was paramount in order to reach an amicable solution. The statement was further supported by the OTMIAA vice president and the University of PNG’s Fly River Student Association.
Affected communities that will give their consent for the mine to continue to discharge pollution into the river system must be fairly compensated as more villages are impacted who must be included.
“The organisation understands the issues and cries of its people since the Ok Tedi Agreement 30 years ago since the Mine commenced operations. There is a process of negotiation that will come towards the end of the year when the people can negotiate on how shares will be given to them,” he added and appealed for calm.
“We must not repeat the failures of the 2006/07 MoA but negotiate that all the promises and undertakings given by the State and OTML must be reviewed first before we start talking about distribution of the new shares.”