Home » The Origin of Blond Afros in Melanesia » PACIFIC4:30 pm today Miner in PNG told it must talk with community, environmentalists

PACIFIC4:30 pm today Miner in PNG told it must talk with community, environmentalists

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Frieda River heading north to join the Sepik River. Photo: Facebook - SEPIK Capital, PNG - Wewak Urban Local Level Government

Environmental activists in a remote part of Papua New Guinea are celebrating, with a proposed copper and gold mine, which they say had ignored them, now forced to consult with them.

Project Sepik with the assistance of advocacy group, Jubilee Australia, two years ago complained to an Australian government-sponsored independent body set up to resolve complaints made against multinationals, about plans for the huge mine adjacent to the Frieda River, a tributary of the Sepik River.

The Sepik River is the longest, and most significant waterway, in Papua New Guinea, and a vital resource for hundreds of thousands of people.

The project alleged that the Australian based, Chinese owned miner, PanAust had failed to gain the free, prior and informed consent of communities who live along the Sepik River; failed to adequately assess and mitigate environmental risks; and inadequately disclosed key information affecting the communities.

The Australian National Contact Point on Responsible Business Conduct, which reports to the OECD, found that the company would need to have prior consent from those communities that would be affected, which could include Project Sepik and Jubilee Australia.

The Project Sepik program co-ordinator, Emmanuel Peni, is delighted at the decision.

“Since we started working in 2016 they have belittled us, sidelined us, marginalised our voice and gone out to the media saying that we are misinforming the communities, telling them things that are not true,” Emmanuel Peni said.

“So it’s a question for them to answer but we would be very happy to work with them, to be with them at the time of consultation with every community, every village along the river.”

The executive director of Project Sepik, Mary Boni, said the mine is on an earthquake fault line and a principal fear is the tailings dam and what would happen if there was a rupture.

Boni said the analysis the company has on this needs to be made public.

She said if PanAust is genuine then in the 12 months they have to act the first move they will make should be to release the data on a dam breach.

RNZ Pacific has reached out to PanAust for comment.

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