The National, Friday 18th November 2011
LANDOWNERS of resource project areas are investing heavily in properties and stocks in PNG and overseas, a sure sign of maturity and planning for the future.
The landowners of the Ok Tedi mine in Western province were a shining example of what should be done throughout.
Last week, the landowners at Star Mountain, home to the giant Ok Tedi mine, officially opened their brand new hotel in Madang – Star International Hotel – which will give stiff competition to the long-established Madang Resort Hotel.
Star International was built by Lae International Hotel, but purchased by the Star Mountain landowners through their company – Ok Tedi Royalty Investment Trust.
Monetary values of purchase could not be disclosed.
The Star International Hotel was officially opened last Friday by Madang governor James Gau.
Those who were present to witness the opening included representatives of the Ok Tedi Royalty Investment Trust (Royalty Trust), Ok Tedi Mining Ltd, landowner representatives and members of various business houses and institutions.
The immediate 12 villages of the Ok Tedi mine impact area organised themselves into a company called Star Group of Companies to manage royalties from the mine through the Royalty Trust, which is one of several landowner trusts set up with the assistance of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.
Gau praised the Ok Tedi landowners for putting their money in such a worthwhile investment in Madang.
“I commend the Ok Tedi landowners for deciding to invest your money in such an investment. I truly commend you and I would like to appeal to other resource owners in the country and especially in Madang to do the same,” Gau said.
He described the acquisition of the hotel as timely considering the unprecedented growth Madang was experiencing as a result of mining operations in the province.
Royalty Trust deputy chairman Joel Dangkim supported Gau and challenged other resource landowners in the country to invest their money for their future generations.
Star Group of Companies general manager Aubrey De’Souza said due diligence was done before the hotel was acquired and that there were huge potentials for the hotel to operate successfully given the increased business activities in the province.
“Royalty Trust’s strategic plan is to have sustainable investments, therefore providing income for the communities after the Ok Tedi mine closes. Our investments are spread onshore in PNG and offshore in Australia and we currently have K86 million of investment assets,” De’Souza said.
OTML general manager for community business support and corporate relations Musje Werror said OTML would continue to support the landowners and affected communities in their investments in projects that would sustain their life after the mine closes.
“The Ok Tedi mine has contributed over K23 billion to the PNG economy and over K500 million to the mine area landowners in royalty, lease and compensation payments since we started production in 1982 … we are proud to see that these benefits are being put to good use by the landowners,” Werror said.
The hotel, which is conveniently located in town has 63 rooms, a bar and grill, three conference and meeting rooms, a gymnasium and a pool.
There are rooms with queen beds and two- single beds to choose from as well as one-bedroom apartments for both short stays and long-term lease and two- bedroom apartments for long-term lease.
Apart from the Madang Star International Hotel, the Royalty Trust also had two hotels in Australia, properties in Port Moresby, shares in companies listed on the Port Moresby and the Australian stock exchanges, and a twin otter aircraft leased to Airlines PNG.