K10mil windfall for Ok Tedi villagers

Business, Main Stories

By SHEILA LASIBORI in Tabubil, Western province

A TOTAL of K10 million has been paid to Star Mountain landowners in Western province on the back of high gold and copper prices in recent years.
And strong words for the proper use of the dividend money through investments and in productive, sustainable projects were echoed in light of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd’s (OTML) mine closure plan for execution in 2013.
Augustine Mano, managing director for Mineral Resources Development Corp (MRDC), said the K10 million was the dividend earnings due to Mineral Resources Star Mountain (MRSM).
The amount was reflected on MRDC’s 2009 financial year ending Dec 31.
Representatives from 10 villages in the vicinity of the OTML mine each received a cheque for K1 million in a ceremony yesterday in the mining township of Tabubil.
It was witnessed by several hundred locals from the 10 villages along with representatives from MRDC and OTML.
MRSM is an umbrella landowner company which represents the 10 villages and which owns among others Tabubil Engineering and Fubilan Catering Services.
Mr Mano said since 2000, when the Government transferred MRSM ownership to MRDC, a  total of K28 million had been paid in dividends to date.
He said in terms of investment from 2001 to 2005, MSRM did not have  investment strategies or policies in place.
This prompted MRDC in 2005 to roll out an investment plan which has since seen MSRM grow in capital and asset value. 
Mr Mano said annually, OTML contributed about K15 million to K20 million in dividend.
He stressed that once the mine ceased operations, this (dividend) would be no more, as he challenged the locals to put to good use their dividend payment.
 “So that when Ok Tedi closes, things would be available,” he said.
MRSM chairman Bill Menim told his people to use the dividend payment in business investment that would benefit everyone in the long run, especially during the time of the mine closure plan by OTML.