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February 21, 2020
Breaking News Islands

Lihir LOs Threaten Airport Shutdown

Kunaye Airport landowners have threatened to shut down operations at the Kunaye airport on Lihir island by this afternoon.

Negotiations are currently underway at the Londolovit Police Station between the police hierarchy and leaders of major clans on the island.

A 24-hour notice to that effect was issued to Newcrest Mining Limited, developer of the giant Lihir gold mine, yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, 3rd September 2019).

It was addressed to the Newcrest board chairman Mr Peter Haye, and copied to Prime Minister James Marape and his deputy Davies Steven, Police Minister Bryan Krammer, Mining Minister Johnson Tuke, New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan, Police Commissioner Francis Takura and his operations chief David Manning, among others.

Kunaye Airport landowners chairman Joseph Kuroh said their actions were to protest against Newcrest’s treatment of their rights to compensation under the Mining Act (1995).

“We want Newcrest to review the Integrated Benefits Package (IBP) agreement, forming the basis of all compensation to resource owners,”

The IBP was the original compensation agreement entered into with the developer when mining began on the island in 1995. It was reviewed in 2007 and fell through in 2012 following disagreements with the then developer Lihir Gold Limited.

Mr Kuroh said no compensation package was framed for Kunaye Airport landowners since 1995.

“Although we are directly affected by the mining operations….For more than 20 years we have suffered but remained calm, but cannot be mere spectators any longer…If there is no positive response within 24 hours, we will shut down the airport.”

In their letter of demand, the resource owners also disputed the compensation relocation agreement (CRA) process currently under way and, instead, called for IBP 2007 to be reviewed.
They also demanded that outgoing Newcrest Lihir executive general manager Craig Jetson be removed from Lihir and not to be involved in the compensation agreements review process.

The resource owners’ other demands included:
• Newcrest restarting a review of the IBP 2007 (citing a Mining Minister’s directive of 7th July 2019); and
• The release of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Kunaye Airport SIC funds within seven working days.

“Failing that, we will shut down the airport when the 24-hour deadline lapses,” Mr Kuroh said.

By Edwin Fidelis, EMTV News, Kokopo

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