A WESTERN province community leader said the Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has become the “Government”, providing services in education, health, infrastructure, training and other projects for the people.
“This should not be the case. Both the national and the Fly River provincial governments should be the ones providing the services to the people,” Ok Tedi Fly River development programme associate director (OTFRDP) and Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) representative for Middle Fly impact community Richard Zumoi said.
“I wish to remind the governments that the people will be left helpless when Ok Tedi ceases operations,” he told The National in an interview at the women in mining conference in Madang last week.
“Everything including the services and benefits will be gone when the mine is shut down but the people will remain.
“So the Government must start looking into the people’s interests and make serious decisions,” Mr Zumoi said.
He said the mine’s disposal of tailings into the Fly River system had caused massive destructions to the environment.
“We have had enough of environmental damage over the years,” he said.
Mr Zumoi urged the relevant authorities in the CMCA region to stop talking about the extension of the mine but to be committed to policies that would secure long-term benefits to the people.
“The PNG Sustainable Development program (PNGSDP) has also been a let down.
“Only a third of the benefits went to people of Western province and the rest to the country.
“This is unfair to the people of Western province because we have suffered so much from the destruction to our environment,” he added.
Mr Zumoi said PNGSDP’s 52% shareholding in OTML was set up following concerns about the long-term environmental impact of the mine, and the social and economic repercussions of the impact in the province.
“At least bigger portions of the share should go back to the impacted areas,” Mr Zumoi said.
He urged the PNGSDP facilitators to cast their focus on impacted CMCA regions, including the Telefomin district in the Sandaun province.
Asked about Governor Dr Bob Danaya’s stance on the mine’s closure, he said the governor’s commitments to the province were unknown.
“Dr Danaya can talk about the immediate closure of the mine. But what has he done for the people and the province?” Mr Zumoi asked.