The national government’s upcoming plan to re-open the world-class Porgera mine in Enga Province will hit a snag because local landowners are claiming billions of kina in compensation.
Prime Minister James Marape and Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke recently announced that the government was taking Porgera mine seriously and will re-open it in due time.
While talks between new special mining lease (SML) holder Kumul Mineral Holdings Limited (KMHL), former operator Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL) and the State continues, landowners have threatened with billions of dollars in compensation claims. In recent developments, the Tuanda Incorporated Land Group (ILG) has led a lawsuit against BNL and the State for K8 billion on claims of environment damages, human rights violations and legacy issues at the Waigani Human Rights Courts earlier this year.
Tuanda ILG chairman Sol Taro is determined to ght for the compensation, claiming 30-years of missed opportunities and negligence for the Tuanda clan who owns 42 per cent of the gold deposit land.
Last week, the Justice Foundation for Porgera Limited claimed that a petition against BNL on the same for US$13.28 billion was on foot for determination before the United Nations Commission of International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Arbitration.
Chairman Jonathan Paraia told reporters in Port Moresby that BNL will met the compensation claim because the social license for the mine to operate was still with the SML landowners.
And this week, the Lower Porgera Landowners who live along the riverine of Porgera mine have demanded the settlement of K3.8 billion on environment legacy issues from BNL before the re-opening of the mine.
The Porgera River Alluvial Miners Association told the Post-Courier that it had lodged a claim against BNL for K3,813,173,889 for the Pogera River socio-economic impact and environment damage for the past 30-years.
Mr Mandi and Mr Papo said the demands should be met before re-opening of the mine because communities along the riverine have not received any tangible benet in the last 30-years.
“The fact that our people have no compensation agreement with BNL to conrm our case, this is the time we make our stand to inform the State and the Porgera mine developer to compensate the people before the mine re-opens,” Mr Papo said.
He said if the State and the developer do not wish to meet the demands, a tailing dam should be constructed and the safety of the people and whatever is left of the environment is guaranteed before opening the mine.
Despite those claims launched by landowners whether in Court, UN Arbitration or by way of civil petition, BNL and the State through the Conservation Environment Protection Authority and Mineral Resource Authority have maintained that there were no outstanding legacy issues for settlement.
Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change Wera Mori told reporters recently that both past and previous mine developers have operated within the connes of the environment permit.
Mr Mori said there were massive environment and socio-economic impacts with outstanding legacy issues but the companies were operating under the connes of the law and there was nothing to pursue.