Geopacific to revisit Woodlark houses

GEOPACIFIC Resources has apologised for the concern over the prototype single-bedroom houses it had intent to build for villagers who are to be relocated from the proposed Kulumadau area, adjacent to the area where it intends to mine gold on Woodlark Island.
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Ian Clyne

Staff Reporter

The proposed housing relocation plan is building new houses away from the mine site on Woodlark Island, but the smaller, one-room houses have received negative comment in local newspapers and on Facebook.
Most of the criticism has come from island Samarai-Muruwa Open MP Isi Henry Leonard.
Geopacific chairman Ian Clyne said much of the commentary on social media was justified. 
"A two-room demonstration house was built on the island and modified according to community input, each dwelling has two additional external out houses. These are for a cooking area and separate bathroom building which makes them in reality considerably bigger than shown in newspaper images.
"The one-room house, however, as depicted is clearly inadequate. I looked on Facebook and saw all the comments and I can only sincerely apologise," Clyne said.
Clyne said the plans for the houses were drawn up by the Woodlark Island project's previous owners and have, over the last 10 years had a considerable amount of community input to arrive at the current one, two, three and four-room solutions.
"Only the smallest design demands a review and we will quickly move to roll out a larger more appropriate solution.  The one-bedroomed units would now contain a minimum of two bedrooms with two out-houses as originally planned.
We will use the one-room house material and repurpose to build additional community usage buildings, such as local community meeting areas, potentially a children's library and other facilities. 
Discussions with local communities have been unfortunately hampered by travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, but Clyne is confident that there will be a successful outcome on community relocations. He stressed that community engagement and development was high on the company's agenda.
Woodlark/GPR are in communication with the MRA in PNG to ensure that a good solution is found, and this matter is solved as matter of urgency.
Clyne added that the Woodlark gold project was a robust one and would ultimately benefit not only the islanders of Woodlark, but Papua New Guinea in its entirety.