Danaya unhappy with resumption of mining operations

National, Normal

The National – Friday, July 1, 2011

WESTERN governor Dr Bob Danaya is disappointed that the government did not consult his provincial administration about the resumption of operations at the Ok Tedi Mine.
This follows the visit by Mining Minister John Pundari and Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allen last week to the pyrite spillage site along the pipeline to the Bige dredge site.
No comments could be obtained from the two ministers yesterday.
Danaya said he first became suspicious when the Western leaders were not part of the delegation.
He said North Fly MP Boka Kondra only got on the charter flight after he had “argued” with them at the airport.
Danaya said he was disappointed that the government allowed the mine operations to resume without consulting the Fly River provincial government.
“Is it all about money-making at the expense of the environmental damage?” he said.
“Where is justice and when will justice be done to the people of Western?
“The government continues to use a flawed piece of legislation using the indemnity clause in the Restated Ninth Supplemental Agreement to continue to operate the mine.”
The indemnity clause states that no legal action must be taken against Ok Tedi mine for any environmental damage caused by the mine operations.
“This is inhuman and suppresses the rights of the people affected by the mine,’’ he said.
“This is cultural genocide for my people. Ok Tedi mine with its major shareholders BHP (PNGSDP) which now holds 62% and the State holding 30%  are hell-bent on making money at the expense of the lives of the people and their environment,” he said.
Danaya said he could not understand the logic behind the ministers’ approval for the Ok Tedi mine to resume operations.
“I need to know whether the leaking pipes have been replaced to improve that bad piece of engineering in pipeline structure. There is no guarantee that the existing and new pipes would survive.”
He said it was possible that the pipeline could have been damaged because it ran so close to the road which was used by heavy vehicles.
He said the pyrite leakage had damaged the environment killing fish and other marine life which the people depended on.
“No amount of compensation will rectify the current environmental catastrophe,’’ he said.
Danaya said the time had come for the government and Ok Tedi mine to address the environmental issues instead of sweeping it under the carpet as it had been  doing for years.