Decision on Frieda project requires views from everyone: Bird


DECISION on the development of Frieda River project is an important issue which requires views from everyone, including operator, PanAust.
This is according to East Sepik Governor Allan Bird following talks on consultation for the proposed project which was likely to commence sometime later in the future.
“The issue is too important for a small group or individual to take a decision in isolation,” he said in a post on social media.
“Let us start by thinking about the Sepik River people for a moment, more particularly where we see them in 20 or 30 years.
“Where do they see themselves in that timeframe?
“Would a large scale mine, managed safely and properly add value to this process of change or badly managed do the opposite?
“There are no easy answers.
“One thing I am certain of is that the life of the river people, like all Sepiks and Papua New Guineans, is changing.
“I have always seen the Sepik River as the best maintenance-free, low-cost highway in the country that has never been used.
“I expect the East Sepik provincial government to do the right thing by everyone, to be fair and transparent, to give each stakeholder an opportunity, without fear, without intimidation to discuss their concerns regarding Frieda project.
“Let us not exclude PanAust as a stakeholder.
“This company came into the prospect four years ago.
“In that time, Government has given them a deadline to produce an environmental impact study) and mine development proposal, or the prospect would be given to another company.
“It would only be fair that we listen to what they have to say rather than dismiss them without a hearing.
“After all, our Government invited them here.
“This year we will have a team of experts look at the EIS and the mine development proposal.
“On a personal level, my only concern is the safety of the river.
“Anything else, be they benefits for river people, landowners, etc are negotiable.
“The safety of the Sepik River is non -negotiable.
“I have requested PanAust to slow down the mine development programme and give us time to seek the views of all affected groups in Sepik.
“It is important that we do not rush into Frieda because Wafi-Golpu is currently going through some challenges.
“I urge everyone to calm down, think rationally and contribute intelligently and constructively to the debate at the appropriate forum.”