The National, Wednesday 30th November 2011
MINING Minister Byron Chan yesterday took a cautious approach to address the sensitive “mineral ownership” issue at the opening of a four-day mining and petroleum seminar in Port Moresby yesterday.
“The government is very mindful of the sensitivity and expectations surrounding the issue of mineral ownership,” Chan said
“The government is trying to address the issue through the development of an effective and tangible benefit distribution mechanism that will give greater participation to our people in the development and exploitation of our mineral resources within the constitutional directive to ensure equal and fair distribution to all citizens of PNG in accordance with the laws and policy priorities,” he said.
Speaking after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s opening address, Chan said the government was “well aware” that the real issue was accountability and transparency in the use and application of mine- derived benefits by provincial governments and landowners and the government’s inability to implement service delivery to affected areas as well as capacity issues among stakeholders.
He said in his short time as the mining minister, he had realised that the government’s state teams in their respective agencies had “always upheld the constitution” regardless of the challenges that faced them.
He said the constitution called for “wise use to be made of our natural resources” and “equal distribution of wealth to all our people”.
Consistent with the Constitution, the Mining Act 1992 declared exploration and mining to be public purposes for a reason that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that has proper regard for the rights and dignity of mankind and that the discovery, appraisal, development and exploitation of minerals to be in the national interest.
“These are the guiding principles that require us to ensure the distribution of wealth is shared amongst our people, and not centred on one particular area to the exclusion of all others.”