Landowner matters unresolved at Ramu: report

CLANS near the Chinese-managed $US1.5 billion Ramu nickel-cobalt mine in Papua New Guinea could start unrest because of bureaucratic delays over benefits sharing agreements, according to a recent newspaper editorial.
Landowner matters unresolved at Ramu: report Landowner matters unresolved at Ramu: report Landowner matters unresolved at Ramu: report Landowner matters unresolved at Ramu: report Landowner matters unresolved at Ramu: report

The editorial in The National discussed how local landowners were upset with delays from the Minerals Resources Authority and how landowners claimed they had not participated in "equal" benefits sharing agreements since 2000.

Another reported landowner concerns were over delays from the Lands Title Commission to make progress on land matters.

While determining all of the correct landowners is a challenge for any resources project in PNG, management changes have been underway at the MRA in recent months which could have delayed progress in various areas.

PNG government matters have also been complicated by the formation of the new O'Neill coalition government in early August, with key bureaucratic positions in several departments changing as a consequence.

A challenge specifically relating to the Ramu project is the ongoing environmentally-based legal action over the essential deep-sea tailings placement plans of the built and yet to kick off mine.

While the Supreme Court dismissed an injunction against the DSTP last month, an appeal to this court over another similar case is still ongoing.

Lawyers representing some of the residents of the Rai Coast have delayed mine commissioning for more than 18 months so far.

Located 75 kilometres west of the provincial capital of Madang, the Ramu wet nickel laterite mine is expected to produce 31,150 tonnes of nickel and 3300t of cobalt per annum in a high-grade concentrate over a 20-year mine life.

The resources could also potentially support mining for a further 15-20 years.

China Metallurgical Construction Company subsidiary MCC Ramu NiCo owns 85% of the project, but Highlands' stake will increase to 11.3% once the project development debt is paid off, which could be in 8 years.

The PNG explorer also has an option to acquire a 9.25% stake of the emerging mine at a fair market value, providing the potential for Highlands to increase its total stake to 20.55%.

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