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Monday, December 6, 2010

Chan backs villagers for legal challenge update

LANDOWNERS of west coast central New Ireland have secured K70,000 in a bid to take the state to court over deep-sea mining.

The deep-sea mining to be developed by Canada’s Nautilus Minerals off the coast of New Ireland and East New Britain is now faced with stiff opposition.

The recently incorporated land group (West-coast Central Seabed Mining Landowners Association) has the backing from the Namatanai Joint District and Budget Priority Committee (JD&BPC) with a funding of K50,000 towards meeting legal cost. A further K20,000 will come from the Sentral LLG. 

Chairman of JD& BPC and Member for Namatanai Byron Chan who supports the landowners’ plight said the financing of such legal battle is crucial so that the government can be made aware of the reality that any mining agreement must involve landowners.

He argues that currently the mining agreement does not accommodate the landowners’ issues and wants to see that it is resolved by putting in place proper laws to safeguard the landowners.
Mr Chan said at present there are no mining laws that deal with the sea in PNG and wanted the landowners to pursue the Court’s interpretation on this.

Recently, the landowner executives of West-coast Central Seabed Mining Landowners Association have met with MP Chan and the media to raise their concerns and announce the legal challenge.

This includes chairman Benson ToMarum, secretary Eugene Pasmet and technical adviser Roboam Paka.

“We will make an application to the Supreme Court in Kokopo for an interpretation of the Mining Act,” Paka said.

He said the current memorandum of agreement has three signatories, which is the state, the developer and the two provincial governments of East New Britain and New Ireland.

Similarly, a total of K100,000 has been approved by the Namatanai JD&BPC for the Simberi landowners to take the company Allied Gold to court for environment pollution, royalty differences and review of mining lease.

MP Chan also called on Lihir and Nimamar Local Level Governments to be prepared for the Lihir Infrastructure Development Grants (IDG) and to review current mining benefits as the MOPU license to increase ounces of gold by next year has been approved.

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