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Mine row rages in PNG

Staff Reporter | 3:33 AM | ||
PARTIES should not rush into any new agreements regarding the PNG Ok Tedi mine because the 2006/2007 memorandum of agreement is still binding – although not satisfactory – says landowners.
Executives of the Ok Tedi Mine Impacted Area Association (OTMIAA) said this MoA was signed by all parties, the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA), OK Tedi Mining Limited, the Government and the PNG Sustainable Development Program on June 29, 2007, where substantive decisions were made.
Executives of OTMIAA and the 90-kilometre section of the Fly River border area yesterday said the OTML, the Government and the PNGSDP deliberately ignored all compensation payments to the tune of K400 million to the CMCA communities as promised in NEC decision no 272/2006 of 29th November 2006 (copy obtained) and as promised on CMCA MoU signed by all parties on June 29, 2007. 
They are now calling on the Government to address the outstanding agreement from 2006/2007 before entering into any new agreements. 
Yesterday, Tarcy Balagaize, the chairman of the 90-kilometre section of the Fly River border area, also representing six villages (Katawin, Kakeaiko, Jod, Kuyu, Bandika and Dum), supported OTMIAA, saying they have not received anything in terms of development from the stakeholders as agreed to under the 2007 agreement.
THE Post Courier is in receipt of copies of the documents from the 2006/2007 agreement, the NEC decision and letters from then Mining Minister Sam Akoitai and even a copy of the Letter of Endorsement including the summary by an independent scientist, Dr Alan Tingay of A & SR Tingay PTY Ltd, a private Australian company that was engaged by OTML to carry out an environment research on impacts of the mine.
The Post-Courier also has copies of the PNGSDP’s final response to the CMCA in 2007 and independent legal adviser Sir Arnold Amet’s paper on the issue. Because of these agreement, the landowners insisted that the O’Neill-Dion Government should not enter into any agreement of any sort until they honour the agreement and what was detailed in it. They claimed that nothing detailed in that agreement had been honoured.
The agreement outcomes of the 2006/2007 CMCA review signed on June 29, 2007, states, among other things, that:
* OTML, with the support of the State and PNGSDP and the Transition Group, will help the communities set up a new CMCA entity (Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation or OTFRDF) to give the communities within the CMCA regions a high level of ownership and decision-making power over resources, programs and projets arising from this review and this may take two years or more to implement. 
The landowners are complaining that this has never been set up.
* Eventually, Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation (or OTFRDF) will replace the role of Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF), which is currently operated by OTML to deliver sustainable development programs in the Western Province and deliver on OTML’s commitments under the CMCA. They said this was never done.
* The OTFRDF’s board of directors will include at least three women leaders, one each from North, Middle and South of the impact area. This has also not happened, the landowners said.
* The distribution and allocation of the Ok Tedi Fly River Development Foundation or OTFRDF funds – 50 per cent of the 2006 one-time allocation from the Western Province People’s Trust Fund – will be allocated specifically for projects in the South Fly region. The balance will be shared equally among remaining regions.
* A K45 million from the 2006 5 per cent dividend will be spent on projects for south Fly communities. The other K45 million will be shared equally among remaining regions. Post Courier