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By Francisca Anania

MP for Alotau Open Hon. Ricky Morris questioned the Minister for Mining Hon. Ano Pala on the Mineral Resources Authority’s approval and issuance of two suspicious mining licenses in the Alotau District on the floor of Parliament yesterday, 23rd of November 2023.

MP Ricky Morris raised this issue stressing that Mining Leases 566 in Sagarai Valley and 567 at Davadava River were issued by MRA without proper warden Hearing and no identification of landowners. “Both Mining Leases 566 and 567 were issued with no proper Warden Hearing which pertains to the Mining Act 1992 before the mining leases were issued, and there was no identification of landowners were conducted.”

Morris claimed that both the provincial government and the district are not aware and have not been consulted on this issuance which raises suspicion on the motive of issuance. “The provincial government and my district in which these leases were issued have no idea and have not been consulted and it is alleged that MRA is using mining leases over an exploration license over the same area.”

He further questioned “Is the Minister aware of these activities that are taking place in the Alotau District? And why are the Milne Bay Government and the Alotau District not consulted in this process?” Hon Pala claimed unawareness on this issue.“I am not aware of the details of these licenses being issued and the complaints being raised” Pala said

But I will check with the system and get back to you.” Morris expressed concern on the exploration activities overtaken by the company the licenses were issued to. “I am also concerned that the exploration activity that is taking place in this mining license areas have already been taken over by the company that was issued these licenses with equipment that have been mobilized and resourced to move into these exploration areas. We embrace development and investment in our district, but we must not compromise the process.”

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