The Minister for Mining,Hon Johnson Tuke, says he is concerned with newly formed landowner groups which are mushrooming out from mine impact areas instigating unnecessary fear,anxiety and distrust amongst the genuine landowners.
“I totally condemn them is information they are feeding the people through the media in their quest to create disharmony and distrust in the mining industry and the Government of Papua New Guinea,’’ the Minister said referring to demands made in the media by interest groups from the Basamuk Refinery area in Madang Province.
The Minister met with the newly elected executives of Basamuk Landowners Association this week to clarify matters evolving from the Basamuk situation.
“On that note, I have this week met with the newly elected executives of Basamuk Landowners Association at my office and they have refuted all claims made by these so-called interest groups or spokespersons that are supposedly representing them.”
“They are never part of the four original Ramu NiCo landowner representative associations of which Basamuk Landowners Association is a party to and the true representative of the people of Basamuk refinery and limestone areas.”
The Minister said landowners of Basamuk Refinery in Rai Coast, Madang Province are good people and their grievances would be dealt following due processes.
“I will only deal with Basamuk Landowners Association, the legally recognized entity of the people,instead of running to the media to create unnecessary havoc on a very important project that others have worked so hard to establish,” he said.
“Let me remind us all that although the mining industry has benefited us as a country, the real situation on the ground with communities hosting mining activities is indeed a great challenge that is faced by our resource landowners, our impacted communities and the rest of our ordinary people.”
The Minister said the people also must bear in mind that the mining industry forms part of Government’s development partner and there are established processes to follow through close consultation and dialogue with concerned stakeholders.
“On the same token, I call upon our resource owners especially leaders of landowner associations, to put aside your differences, unite and work together for the common good of your people. If we work as a united team, I assure you that you will see change. I say this because in some cases, we are our own causes of stagnancy or even regression,” he stressed.
The Government of Papua New Guinea and China have agreed to expand the RAMU NiCo Management (MCC) operated mine with an investment of over US$1.5 billion (K5 billion)which will create more jobs, increase production and reduce operation costs.
With such an expansion comes greater responsibility to the mine impact people, the environment, rural development, and all stakeholders.
The landowners of the Ramu NiCo project received their royalties totalling over K25 million from the National Government just recently and this was deemed positive news for the landowners. The government has encouraged the landowners to invest their money in businesses that will make good economic returns on their investment.
“Basamuk landowners are no exception and therefore, I commend the new executives of their Association headed by Mr Sande Suang for giving their commitment to work with the Government,” said Minister Tuke.
“At this juncture, I want to assure our mining industry that as partners in the development of mining projects in the country, we are committed to working with you. The government is all about consultation and dialogue. The important thing is that we must be fair to all stakeholders. In any development project, everybody must come out a winner.I believe that this is the way forward to the successful growth of our industry”.