by Delly Waigeno – EM TV, Port Moresby
Aggrieved landowners from the Lihir Mining area in the New Ireland province placed traditional symbolic plants, locally known as gorgor, around the Lihir Gold Mine site on Saturday 6 June, indicating discontent and effectively bringing operations to a halt.
They want resolutions to what they feel are four outstanding key issues including the Integrated Benefits Package Agreement (IBP3) and an outstanding Memorandum of Understanding.
Chairman of the Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association (LMALA), James Laketan, clarified that the placement of the gorgor is the Lihirian way of peacefully saying there is a dispute, and all stakeholders need to talk and resolve issues.
The issues include two key agreements; the Integrated Benefits Package Agreement and an MOU; tendering of Lihirian Businesses and Environmental concerns.
Chairman Laketan, said they want Newcrest and the Nimamar LLG at a round table for a dialogue.
And in the latest news, the gorgors were removed today (June 8) by members of a visiting police mobile unit from Tomaringa in East New Britain.
Mr Laketan also said the Chief Executive Officer of the Mineral Resources Authority, Philip Samar, had written a letter, labeling the gorgor placement as “illegal”.
Addressing a meeting at the Putput Community Hall this morning, after police had lifted gorgors at the pit and plant sites, Nimamar LLG President, Ambrose Silul, said the Lihirian leadership would not negotiate with the resident Newcrest General Manager, Mr Craig Jetson.
“Craig Jetson has failed us; therefore, we will only negotiate with the developer’s chief executive officer who is based in Canberra, Australia,” Mr Silul said.
Locals believe that under the spirit of the Lihir gold project and its agreements, the Integrated Benefits Package (IBP) should be reviewed every five years, with the first in 2007.
“No review took place in 2012 and is now three years behind schedule,” Mr Silul said.
The landowners say they want the immediate finalisation of the overdue IBP3 Agreement immediately.
Newcrest Mining Country Manager, Peter Aitsi, has assured EM TV News of a response to these latest happenings.