By ISAAC NICHOLAS
THE Department of Environment and Conservation will do everything under the law to safeguard the livelihood of the people against environmental damage, Minister Benny Allan assured yesterday.
“We must, at all cost, try to safeguard the people’s livelihood and the department will ensure that mining and environment regulations are adhered to by project developers,” he said.
The minister came out clear on the department’s position after the shut-down of Simberi mine in New Ireland and the environment concerns on the operations of the Hidden Valley mine in Morobe province.
He also denied discussing or receiving any correspondence on the Simberi mine issues from New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan.
He said the only discussions with Sir Julius at the leader’s forum in Lae were about Lihir and Nautilus undersea mine between East New Britain and New Ireland.
“Sir Julius never mentioned Simberi nor do I recall citing letters from him to my ministry on Simberi mine environmental issues. But I received correspondence on Lihir and Nautilus from his office.”
Mr Allan said the mine was closed due to health and safety issues.
“I will not say it has to do with the environment issues because no complaint has been received from the provincial government and other stakeholders,” he said
“If there is any environmental concern about damage inflicted by the company, a complaint must be lodged with the department for an independent assessment.
“When we get complaints, we send in teams to investigate. And if need be, we engage independent groups to do assessments on impact of the damage.”