By PISAI GUMAR
Towangola-Zindanga communities located along exploration license (EL) 440 of Wafi-Golpu mine project site are concerned about long-term environmental damage if a tunnel is dug through to mine gold and copper.
Towangola clan leader Levi Kikalem said Wafi was the main water source for Kumalu, Lupo, Wafi, Zenaga and Lucpoko rivers that flowed into the bigger Watut and Markham.
According to an updated feasibility study, a tunnel will be dig from the northwest site of Babuaf (EL 1105) through to EL 440.
Kikalem is concerned that if a tunnel is dug through to the core of the gold-copper deposit, it will affect water sources and vegetation.
“In the long run, will the soil sink or cause underground flooding causing extensive harm, if river systems are disturbed?” he said.
“The company and government will change the landscape of the environment in the interest of profit.
“What is the alternative plan to replace environments that will be destroyed?”
Kikalem said while the community appreciated the investments by Newcrest and Harmony through the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture, Government agencies such as the Mineral Resources Authority and Conservation and Environment Protection Authority lacked critical assessments into environmental issues.
“The investors and Government are interested in profit,” he said.
“In the long run, locals will suffer from losing all natural resources.”
Kikalem also raised concern over non-identification of traditional boundaries between Towangola-Zindanga, Hengabu, Yanta and Babuaf.
“We need proper land mediation to identify our traditional boundaries,” he said.
“This is to ensure we claim environmental damage where it is due.”
By PISAI GUMAR