By Lucy Kopana – EMTV News, Madang
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill assured the Madang provincial government, that the national government will not sign a new Ramu Nico Agreement, unless it is reviewed to better suit the landowners, province, and the state.
Mr. O’Neill said if the company wants to expand, they must renegotiate the benefits.
“Bai nogat niupla agreement, until yumi mekim sure osem igat fair benefit igo long ol man meri blong yumi.”
The Ramu Nico Mine is a $2.1 billion US Dollar project, which is an estimated K 7 billion, and is largely owned by the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC).
Nickel is mined in Kurumbukari in the Usino Bundi district, and transported through a 135 km slurry pipeline, to the refinery in Basamuk, Rai Coast district.
Locals have expressed that they have not seen tangible developments or the benefits of the mine, since the mine commenced operations.
On Thursday, landowners at Basamuk met with National Planning Minister Richard Maru, and Madang Governor Peter Yama, airing their grievances over the lack of developments in the district, despite having a mine in their area.
An LLG president in the area said when mining operations started, they expecting to see developments in their communities, however this has not happened.
“Ol man meri blo mipla lo arere ya lo ples, sapos lo lait go insait, sapos lo stap lo gutpla haus kapa, na wai em no kamap olsem?”.
Mr. Yama, assured them that he would not sign a new agreement with the company, unless the agreement is changed to capture the needs of the people.
“Namba wan agreement em pinis nau namba tu agreement bai yumi signim. Long displa agreement, displa taim em mi bai putim signature blo mi taim mi satisfied”
Mr. Maru said it is unacceptable that the resources are being depleted, without developments being done for the people.
“The agreement was drafted in such a way, that in all honesty it only benefited the company and no the province of Madang, the local landowners…”
Mr. Maru said he supports the Prime Ministers stance, stating that the Ramu Nico Agreement that expired last year must not be extended unless it meets the landowners, and states expectation’s.
“I want to make it clear. We have no issues with MCC…MCC is not the enemy, we are partners in development and so in the negotiations for the new MoA, we must ensure win-win situation for all parties involved,”.
The national government will be forming a negotiating team to assist the Madang Provincial government, in the efforts to prepare a new Ramu- Nico agreement.