by Theckla Gunga – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Majority of the discussions in parliament today were focused on the mining sector.
Following concerns on the temporary shutdown of OK Tedi Mine in Western, the Bulolo MP, Sam Basil, asked a series of questions on the temporary closure of Tolukuma Mine in Central and Morobe Mine in Morobe to the government.
The Bulolo MP said the closure of the mines has affected the lives of many people, and asked the government to give an update on their futures.
“I was asked by the people who live in the two mining areas to ask the government to give them an update on the operational status of the two mines”, Basil said.
The series of questions on the two gold mines were initially directed to Mining Minister Byron Chan, but were answered by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Chan’s absence.
In his supplementary questions, the Bulolo MP voiced serious concerns about the lives of the people who are direct beneficiaries of the mines.
Basil said the mines have been closed for a while, and asked the government to inform the people about its operational status.
In response, Prime Minister O’Neill said both the mines are important government assets and there is continuous dialogue with his government and the Board of the Tolukuma Mine.
Mr. O’Neill said Tolukuma Mine Developer Petromin, had faced a financial constraint where it lost over K100 million on operational costs and that has affected the operations of the mine.
The Prime Minister also announced that Petromin will be concluding a discussion with a new mine developer in the coming weeks.
“With that I would like to inform the parliament that Petromin will be concluding discussions with a new developer for Tolukuma,” O’Neill said.
However at the moment, Petromin is conducting some care and maintenance exercises on some of the mining facilities at Tolukuma.