Porgera Mine Landowners in PNG demand Consultation on Barrick Niugini run mine ban

 Members of the Porgera Landowners Association SML Negotiating Committee in Papua New Guinea  are demanding answers from the National Government, after the Minister for Mining in the Marape-led Government, Johnson Tuke, declared a reservation against mining and exploration over a large portion of the Porgera Valley.

In a gazettal notice published on Tuesday 28 April, the Minister declared that a large portion of the Porgera Valley - some 197 square kilometres - was reserved from exploration and mining, without any explanation or discussion with the traditional owners of that land.

Government may try to expropriate the mining assets that sit on our indigenous and tribal ands - but they cannot and will not expropriate, and then separate our land from us. The very nature of our national constitution protects and preserves our rights to our land and its endowments from hostile acts performed by rogue elements from within government or otherwise that would threaten our land-ownership, tradition land rights and spiritual ties to our customary lands".

The Minister and the National Government have again failed to consult with the rightful landowners of Porgera before making a major decision that affects us, and we demand to know why.

What is the purpose of this reservation? Why have you failed to speak with us before making such a decision?
We are the traditional owners of this land, and Government should not be making decisions of this kind without consulting us first - there are clear and long-standing principles about how Government must consult with traditional owners about such decisions, and we are appalled that once again, the Marape Government have ignored us and trampled all over our rights.

The ill-conceived decision not to extend the Porgera Mining Lease, and the resulting economic chaos that has brought to our people is causing us much pain, but the Government has never come to us to ask our views or to explain why they are making these decisions that affect us so much.

We already suffer from an uncertain future as our peoples' livelihoods are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the suspension of mining operations at Porgera after an ill-conceived decision by the government over the refusal of SML extension without consulting the landowners.

There is little doubt that the actions of government are fast becoming an abuse of our most basic human rights and as such we appeal to the government to withdraw this nonsensical gazette as we may be forced to refer this matter to an appropriate authority who deal with human rights violations within PNG and abroad and further seek legal redress.

Enough is enough. It is time for the Prime Minister to sit down with us here in Porgera and start to explain himself, and to explain why he allows his Government to ignore the wishes of the landowners and take away the rights of the majority of our people whose livelihood is dependent on our land and mining.

Undersigned by:

1. Maso Mangape (PLOA Negotiating Committee Chairman )
2. Dickson Pundi (PLOA Negotiating Committee Deputy Chairman)

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PNG Parliament passes Amendment Bills for Mineral Sector - A pathway to Economic Independence

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