Porgera landowners blame state for illegal miners

PORGERA landowners blame the state, via the Mineral Resources Authority of Papua New Guinea, for an increase in the number of illegal miners descending on the mine.
Porgera landowners blame state for illegal miners Porgera landowners blame state for illegal miners Porgera landowners blame state for illegal miners Porgera landowners blame state for illegal miners Porgera landowners blame state for illegal miners

While an average of 396 illegal miners trespass on the mine daily, the Porgera Landowners Association said the increase was a by-product of ignorance and a refusal to address the problem proactively.

In a media statement, PLOA chairman Tony Mark Ekepa said issues surrounding the illegal and unauthorised mining activity at the minesite were not a new development and insisted the state was responsible.

"The [Special Mining Lease Landowners Association] through PLOA have always maintained that this kind of illegal activity is manageable through provisions in the Porgera memorandum of agreement review," he said.

"The mutually agreed provision regarding resettlement is capable of addressing the problem.

"Steps have been taken by the stakeholders through the Porgera mine MoA review but that review has been stalled.

"The state, through the Mineral Resources Authority, is to be blamed for the recent increase in illegal mining activities for not fast-tracking the MoA review.

"For political convenience, the state has created an unnecessary impasse on the MoA review and illegal activities at the minesite have escalated to a new level as reported by the mine operator."

Ekepa said the landowners, the developer, the national government and the Enga provincial government were all stakeholders that benefited from the Porgera mine.

He said there was no quick fix solution but fast-tracking the MoA review, with a clause on resettlement, would trigger a way forward to eliminate the illegal miner problem.

"The increase in illegal activities at the Porgera minesite is a by-product of ignorance over many years and a refusal to address the problem proactively," Ekepa added.

"The current Porgera MoA review has taken the necessary steps to adequately address the problem with proactive solutions but MoA review impasse caused by the state has triggered the recent increases in illegal activities.

"The state should not overreact to [an] increase in illegal mining activity by deploying mobile police to control the situation.

"It is a problem that needs to be eliminated at the root.

"Simply fast-track the MoA review and the stakeholders in the review will mutually undertake a resettlement program that will address the illegal miner problem once and for all."

A recent statement issued by the MRA confirmed mine owner Barrick Niugini had approached the national government to urgently provide assistance in resolving the law and order issue so the mine could continue its normal operations.

It said the company was concerned at the rate at which illegal miners were operating and the manner of behaviour, adding that the mine could face serious problems - including the shutting down of operations.

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