By ZACHERY PER
MINING Minister Johnson Tuke has intervened to resolve the standoff at the Bilimolia gold mine which led to the destruction of mining equipment last week.
He visited the Bilomolia landowners and the K92 management which operates the mine to discuss the review of the memorandum of agreement. They will formally meet on Friday this week to review the agreement.
“I will get the Mineral Resource Authority, K92 mine management and Bilimoia landowners to review the existing agreement and to find an amicable solution to the standoff,” Tuke said.
He told villagers at Bilimoia One that it was fortunate that the mine was in his electorate and that he was recently appointed as the Mining Minister.
On Thursday last week, the landowners stormed the mine site at the foot of the Irumapimpa Mountain and destroyed millions of kina worth of mining equipment. The villagers told Tuke that they had been denied spin-off benefits to provide catering, transport, security and other services as specified in the agreement.
Bilimoia Landowners Association chairman Neneti Tesai and members Isaac Uringke, Dawa Baiyaki and Linus Tau said they were disappointed.
The equipment damaged included the generator that supplied electricity to the underground mine.
A number of vehicles including an underground truck were set on fire.
Chief Operating Officer John Lewins said 70 per cent of landowner benefits went to Bilimoia while 30 per cent went to other landowners. He said out of 500 employees at the mine, 300 were locals, 170 from other districts and 30 expatriates.
Lewins said wages paid to landowners amounted to more than K6.6 million per annum through the landowner entity Bilimoia Development Company.
By ZACHERY PER