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Barrick Does not Deserve to Mine in Porgera anymore

There has been a total deforestation of the Porgera SML area soon after the SML was granted in 1989. Next came the bulldozing away of the surface of the land, as the earth was scalped and shoved into the two valleys, which kept on moving further downstream of the two rivers following down the Porgera valley. One river was located east of the mine site and the other was located in west. Both flow from the south to the north of the mine site. The population of the valley including the landowners of the mine site was about ten thousand people in 1989. As the sludge kept moving down stream, many families lost their lands, gardens, homes and their alluvial gold mining areas along the rivers, yet no proper compensation had been paid to the families to purchase new land and homes for their families. The government itself lost a complete primary school which was educating some two hundred children. The remaining school buildings were dismantled and its materials stored for many years by the mine without building a replacement school, causing the students to permanently lose their education. A permanent bailey bridge connecting the Porgera government station and the people of the lower Porgera area, had only one four-wheel drive track with a bailey bridge across the river flowing in the west. This bridge was destroyed by the sludge but not replaced, cutting off vital services for a significant number of Porgeran families. The sludge flow also destroyed many foot bridges including a wire bridge built by the mine itself, resulting in many lives been lost when people including children attempted to cross the flooded rivers. Soon after the completion of the construction of the Porgera gold mine infrastructure, another phase of environmental destruction was to occur for the people down the river valleys as the mine discharged red tailings directly into the river to the east of the processing plant and later ending up in the Porgera and the Strickland river systems. There has been no governmental monitoring of the environment and the river systems over the thirty years of Mining in Porgera. The lives and livelihoods of the landowners of the Special Mining Lease had become torturous as they continued to live within the Special Mining Lease for thirty years. Experts hired by the mine itself, have at least on two occasions in 1996 and 2006 respectively, concluded from their investigations that, there was a serious competition for land between the mine and a growing population of the SML landowners and that, the Mine should resettle the landowners away and outside of the SML area. The Mine rejected both reports and failed to resettle the landowners causing more and serious harm to the lives and livelihoods of the landowners. International Human Rights groups from various organisations investigated and identified numerous victims of rape of local landowner women by the Mine’s security forces, as the women searched for alluvial gold within the SML areas for their survival, as their lands were no longer available for food production. Barrick had since admitted to such crimes and have paid compensation to some of the victims. There have also been numerous murder allegations over many years, most of which have never been investigated by the PNG Police. The Government of Papua New Guinea have not in the thirty years of mining at Porgera investigated any of the complaints from the landowners and the people of Porgera about the environmental destruction, human rights violations and other criminal conduct by the Mine and its employees. Barrick may not be innocent of any of these crimes alleged against them. It is very possible that should proper investigations be conducted into the allegations of environmental destruction, human rights violations and general criminal activities, as alleged by numerous landowners and other citizens of PNG, it is likely that many officials of the mining companies will be held responsible and could find themselves being tried in a court of law and face jail terms for their crimes in Porgera. Prime Minister Marape should now consider investigating the many environmental, human rights and murder allegations that were perpetrated by the Operators of the Porgera gold mine over the last 30 years, to ascertain if Barrick and its partners have at all been genuine investors, abiding by the laws of PNG and internationally. In relation to the sharing of benefits from the Porgera gold mine, Barrick has recently admitted that Mineral Resources Enga Limited had received just a little over one million ounces of gold, over thirty years of mining at Porgera. This would mean therefore that Barrick and its other foreign investors have received more than twenty-one million ounces of gold. However, Barrick has not explained how it produced and received this amount of gold, when its Approved Proposal for Development of 1989, by the government of Papua New Guinea, required the production of only 8.9 million ounces of gold over a period of twenty years. Who extended a further ten years of mining at Porgera and the production of an extra 12 million ounces of gold? These are questions that yet remain unanswered and will require further investigation. Finally, Barrick should not continue to try to deceive Papua New Guineans again about accepting Economic Benefits whilst Barrick proposes to take all or most of the equity again. A benefit is a profit, according to the Dictionary of the English language. A profit is only derived through ownership of equity. The term Economic Benefit, is not found in any of the English Dictionaries. The Somare government was tricked into accepting an option to acquire up to 10% equity in any future mining at Porgera in an Equity Agreement entered into between the State of PNG, Placer (PNG) Ltd, Mount Isa Mines Ltd and Consolidated Gold Fields Australia Ltd, in December 1979. That agreement had benefited the foreigners significantly and has left the landowners in poverty without their lands, a devasted environment and generations of illiterate children. The Porgera landowners have learnt their lessons and now pledge that going forward, we will work to make the people of Porgera wealthy, healthy and educated using the resources that God has given them. Barrick or any foreign entity for that matter will no longer be part of our future. Next : Barrick Niugini responds to PNG PM Marape's Comments
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