A report released by Newcrest Limited this week has indicated a payout of K69.8 million as royalty payments to the Lihir people for the use of their land and resources.
The New Ireland provincial government received 50% of the royalty that amounts to K34,938, 912 million. A big portion of the money will go towards the administering of the province and infrastructure developments.
Nimamar Local Level Government, another important stakeholder in the Lihir Mining Benefit Package received 30% of the royalty that equates to K20,963,347 million. A big sum of that money will go to community development projects on the island.
Landowners received the remaining 20% that amounts to K13,975,565 million. Much of it will go towards their financial savings and own spending.
According to the report, this has brought the total amount of royalties paid to the mining stakeholders to about K585,049,429 million since the mine began operations in 1997.
But Lihir has been a hive of activities instigated by landowners who want the mining company and the government to listen to them.
On numerous occasions, landowners use the traditional instrument, the gorgor (Ginger) as a sign of dispute and a call out for negotiations to sort out their issues.
Most of them were cases involving benefits from the mine and the marginalisation of landowners on their own land.
“We the beneficiaries are not getting enough benefits derived from the mine,” said Joe Nasele, a local village councillor of Londolovit.
On the other hand, the landowning clans have outstanding differences with the Local Level government that they too need to resolve.
In March last year, the two parties came together to reconcile and put an end to the ongoing conflict over mining benefits that have dragged on for more than 6 years.
Many Lihir people have been arguing that the internal disputes have halted a lot of development, that should have already happened on the small gold-rich island.
“The mine has been operating on the island for the past 20 years. But we are living as if there are no developments happening here. That’s why we are worried. Our lives shouldn’t be like this,” said Helen Lusem, a women’s’ leader on Lihir.
The Australian Mining giant, Newcrest Limited, has been operating the Lihir mine since 2010 after acquiring it from its predecessor, the Lihir Gold Limited.
Newcrest Limited is the largest gold producer listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
While the royalty payouts this week indicates a positive move to at least put up with the mining agreement, between the government, the mining company and the landowners, many landowners still remain sceptical about the advantages and the disadvantages.
They are still calling for equal distribution and participation from the benefits derived from the mine.