Thursday, September 20, 2018

PNG gold miners get raw deal from international buyer

A small scale gold miner in Morobe is now worried that he might not be able to get the sum of money worth his 4.6 kilogram gold given to an Australian gold buyer in 2013.
The miner (named) who is a local from Aseki in Menyamya district told Post-Courier that his gold weighing 4.6kg was given in exchange of payment and business to an international gold buyer named Chris Walker of Brisbane, Australia in 2013, but he has never received his complete payment up until today.
He said it was through the arrangement of PNG National Small Scale Miners Association Incorporation vice president and general secretary Joe Bronston that linked him including 15 other gold owners from various provinces to go into business with Chris Walker.
It is now after six years and he is still waiting for the complete payment of his gold.
He said Mr Walker has also taken 45kg of gold from the other 15 individuals and wanted them to keep topping up the gold until 100kg then he would move his business to Port Moresby and work with them.
“I was only given AUS$10, 000 (PGK 23,489.4) as a spending money according to Mr Walker and his wife Jessica Groff while 1.5kg of the total 4.6kg of gold was going to be my share in the business and rest of the payment was supposed to be given to me later,” the man said.
However nothing turned out the way he expected in the agreement between Mr Walker and him.
A detailed statement from Mr Bronston said he knew Chris Walker and Peter Walker for almost 20 years and have been living together as families in PNG in 1988.
However, Mr Bronston when speaking to Post-Courier described Mr Walker and wife Jessica of Noosa, Queensland as perpetrators despite their close family relationship.
Mr Bronston said one of the most talked about business between them was how to develop alluvial mining in PNG from which in 2010, Mr Walker came up with the plan to introduce PNG Bullion Exchange in PNG.
“I informed various miners in different parts of the country and we agreed to Chris Walkers plan and the first four day meeting was held in Brisbane to achieve the plan of producing 100 kilos of gold so it would give confidence to investors to come to PNG to set up PNG Gold Exchange trade centre” said Mr Bronston.
Mr Bronston said the negotiation with miners to go into business with Mr Walker was agreed by all and the trip was taken care of by Queensland customs Broker Glenys Gardener whom was contracted by Australian Coin and Bullion Exchange in Melbourne.
“I did 18 trips of gold delivery under my PNG Mining Department Export Permit as Geological Sampling to Walker in Brisbane. Meanwhile the gold had a purity rate of 89percent (gold purity), Mr Bronston said.
He said each time he brought the gold to Mr Walker, after confirming weight and genuineness, he then transports the precious metal to the Australian Coin & Bullion Exchange for analysis and sampling, where the gold is then refined to 99.99 gold purity.
“Until 2013 the miners began following up on the establishment of Gold Exchange Trading in Port Moresby as promised. Subsequently this led to the disappearance of the Walkers.
“I told them in one of the gathering of miners in Port Moresby that we must continue to produce and arrive at 100kg of pure gold then the establishment of PNG GOLD Exchange will be announced, by the time the 45kg pure gold was already in Brisbane.
“However I was reported to the detectives at Boroko police station by miners repeatedly by different miners who doubted this work program (100kg gold exchange) as they felt it would drag on”, Mr Bronston said.
He said some of the miners wanted money for their gold, others listened and followed what was said while a few took his families as hostage at one time.
“I stopped delivering when I noticed Mr Walker and his wife Jessica stopped responding to my calls and emails during the tussle.
“I even flew down twice to follow up but still no indication of their presence. They had their address changed and perhaps went into hiding,” he said.
He said the matter was also reported to the Noosa Heads Police station and a complaint was also filed with Detectives Chad Kereama and Jason Brown. The investigation has since taken four years and is still pending.
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