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Monday, August 29, 2011

Chan clears air on proposed mining policy review

MINING Minister Byron Chan says he stands by his policy statement that resource ownership rights must go back to the people provided there is wide consultation between the state, landowners and industry partners.

Speaking during a mine tour to Simberi Island on Thursday he assured the business community and particularly industry participants in the mining sector that the proposed changes to the Mining Act 1992 which has now become a heated debate in the media will not affect their operations.

“Let me assure the business community and especially the mining industry in the country that there will be no immediate policy changes to the existing laws until proper case study and wide consultation with the industry and relevant stakeholders is carried out.

“As government we will try as much as possible to polish up the policy that I believe will be suitable for all Papua New Guineans. If it means for us to go out and study other countries whose mining activities and laws are similar to what we are proposing then let it be.

“I believe this will enlighten us to see for ourselves how best we can fine tune the policy that we will be implementing in the O’Neill/Namah Government to benefit our resource owners, non-resource owners and industry partners in the country.

“I must stress also that this is not a deliberate attempt to discredit any mining firm or developer in the country. In fact there’s nothing new. All I’m saying is for developers to recognise resource owners as custodians of their own land in the proposed policy,” the mining minister said.

He said if the developers cannot live up to the policy, they should not waste their time in the country but to pack and move to allow for other investors who are keen and can respect resource owner rights and work closely with them to bring about meaningful development. 

“I’d like to clear the air on landownership rights, which is the bigger issue raised here and abroad by respective mining commentators and relative industries. For example, I appreciate what Australian Minister Neil Swan said recently – “that Australia and Australians must benefit from the existing mining boom and enhance the country’s economic position through policy changes”.

Minister Swan also goes on to elaborate how Australian businesses were “missing out on the supplies procurement of machinery, goods and services which Australian companies and Australians can provide”.

“Likewise, my statement is principally the same through with greater landowner rights, though this policy would take at least six months before the “policy changes” be brought to Parliament for debate,” Chan said.

Minister Chan said this would take time to properly assess with other existing policies and an appropriate case study to be done by his department, MRA and all industry stakeholders to properly substantiate the proposed changes, though until then the “Status quo remains” business as usual.

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