By Sylvester Gawi – EM TV, Lae
The Union of Watut River communities in Morobe province have expressed concerns over the environmental damages that may happen when the Wafi mine comes into operation.
They claimed that damages done by mine tailings from the Hidden Valley mine in previous years were not compensated well by the Morobe Mining Joint Venture.
They are now calling on the Department of Environment and conservation to give enough time for the impacted communities to be consulted before an Environmental permit is approved.
The Union is saying that the 20 days given by the Department of Environment and Conservation to review Wafi mine’s environmental permit is inadequate.
They are now asking for the timeframe to be extended until the end of this month, to give enough time for them to consult the communities in the impacted areas of the mine.
President of the Union of Watut River communities, Reuben Mete, says they cant allow the permit to be approved without consulting the people.
“We want an expension of time so that the people of Upper Watut, Mumeng, Wampar and Salamaua LLGs be given ample time for discussions on issues that will be affecting them regarding the Wafi gold mine,” says Mete.
The union claimed that in previous years, communities affected by tailings from the Hidden Valley mine were not compensated well.
Payment documents from previous incidents revealed that locals were paid as low as K4 and K11 for damages done to their plants and food gardens.
What the union wants to see is impacted areas; especially riverine communities are consulted and fully informed on compensation methods before a permit is approved.
Chairman of Mining in the Morobe Provincial Executive Council, Okam Paton, has denied being consulted by the Department of Environment and Conservation.
He is expected to bring this matter to Tutumang’s attention when they convene this Thursday.