Misima Island: A Special Report

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It has been a decade after the closure of the Misima Gold Mine in the Milne Bay province. The people have been left with high hopes of receiving direct benefits that the mine would bring after its closure. But after all these years, their lives haven’t improved in any big way. Most of the people still live on remnants from the mine with an economy driven by alluvial mining.

Government’s service standards are below what were expected by the Misima people.
According to landowners, the mining operations on the Island in the past 20 years have let the people of Misima down.
The Island of Misima lies 200 kilometres of the far Eastern Coastline of Mainland PNG. A one-way ticket to the island from Port Moresby or the Provincial Capital Alotau costs nearly K1000. Most of the people can’t afford that they prefer the sea route as it costs less. It takes about a day by boat to travel to Alotau. But during bad weather, it may take more than two days.
Because of the High freight costs, store goods are sold at twice the normal price sold in Port Moresby and Lae shops.
All these represent the isolation and remoteness of the small island district. Like other remote places in PNG, the island has seen significant drop in government services.
After the Mine was closed in 2004, most of the basic services saw a gradual decline. The people on the island still depend largely on the infrastructure left behind by the mine and they are blaming the provincial government for the lack of attention given to them.
Since the mine was left 10 years ago, the economy on the island has been kept alive by local alluvial mining and subsistence gardening and fishing.
Local landowners have also been fighting a 20 year old court battle that is still far from over.
Natural resources have been destroyed during the 20 years of mining operations on the island.
Landowners have been facing major challenges. They have been struggling to convince the National Court government to honor the commitment they made 20 years ago but didn’t provide for the Misima People.
For remote places like Misisma, getting the government’s attention is nothing but easy.
Over the last 2 decades, Misima Island was featured prominently in government discussions as one of the major players in driving PNG’s economy, due to the mining activities on the island.
The Misima people say, the government has exploited them; they say they’ll continue to fight the case until they get what they what is rightfully theirs.
But currently, they call on the government to go and have a walk through on the Island.    

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