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PLOA Chairman Mr. Tony Mark Ekepa. PICTURE SUPPLIED BY; Daniel Kumbon Jnr

The critical Community Development Agreement (CDA) forum for the New Porgera Mining Limited was held yesterday  at the Innovative University of Enga (IUE) Faculty of Education Campus. The event, essential to the country’s economy, saw a dramatic turn of events when the Porgera Landowners Association (PLOA) Chairman, Mr. Tony Mark Ekepa, walked out in protest along with agents of the Special Mine Lease.

The gathering brought together key stakeholders, including government officials, representatives from Mineral Policy and Geo-Hazards Management Ltd, and landowners. As the meeting was about to be handed over to the forum’s Chairman, Deputy Secretary Mr. Winterford Eko, Mr. Ekepa exited the venue. His departure was prompted by the absence of previously signed agreements requested during this and past forums held in Wabag, Alotau, and Mt. Hagen in 2023.

“We just want to have a look at the terms and conditions of the previously signed agreements and see the positions of where my people are placed on these documents,” Mr. Ekepa stated. He emphasized the importance of transparency in the final stage of reopening the mine, advocating for open dealings rather than clandestine negotiations.

Highlighting his concerns, Mr. Ekepa drew contrasts with the 1989 Mining Agreement, which involved only three key agreements between the people of Porgera, the State, and the Enga Provincial Government, apart from the agreement with the Porgera Gold Mine. He insisted on the necessity of revisiting the six agreements to ensure fair representation of his people.

In response, Deputy Public Solicitor Mr. Bonny Gelu asserted that the agreements signed by the state and Mineral Resource Enga (MRE), which holds a 5% stake in New Porgera Limited, are constitutionally protected and cannot be disclosed publicly. “The agreements that were signed have legal implications, financial implications, and can have consequences if they are revisited,” Mr. Gelu explained.

However, Mr. Maso Magape, representing the PLOA, challenged this stance. He argued that MRE, being a commercial entity, did not adequately represent the people of Porgera and PLOA. Mr. Magape requested an adjournment of the forum to allow PLOA to seek legal counsel, questioning the legitimacy of MRE’s representation and the commercial nature of the agreements.

The government representatives, maintaining a hopeful outlook for a successful forum, agreed to provide answers the following day. Consequently, the meeting was adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

This CDA meeting is crucial for the successful reopening of the Porgera mine, a key economic driver for the nation. The outcomes of this forum could significantly influence the future of the mining operations and the economic landscape of the country as a whole.

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