The National, Tuesday 21st August, 2012
THE proposed Special Mining Lease negotiations of the Hidden Valley gold mine in Bulolo district, Morobe, are something the landowners and government will discuss and not the developer, landowners said.
The Nakuwi Landowners Association warned the developer Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) to stay out of the negotiations. The landowner association wants to negotiate the proposed SML during the review of the Hidden Valley Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) later this year.
However, Morobe Mining Joint Venture, which operates the Hidden Valley gold mine, wants the landowners to put aside the SML negotiations and concentrate on the MoA review.
In media releases early this month, MMJV said the SML negotiation was improper and the landowner association should concentrate on the upcoming review of the MoA for the benefit of the people.
But association president Rex Mauri said early last week that in accordance to the Mining Act, the landowners and government had the prerogative to negotiate and discuss SML issues.
Mauri said the SML negotiations would change the lives of the people because of the possibilities of mine-life expansion. “The developer raised false alarm that the mine life was seven years and a MoA was signed between the landowners, developer and the government.
“Since the mine life has a vast potential of expansion, we are looking forward to negotiate with the government for an SML,” Mauri said.He said since the mine started pouring gold, the local landowners and communities living around the vicinity of the mine had missed out on basic services.
Mauri said Wau was still a “ghost town” and needed tangible service delivery from mining proceeds.
“The Hidden Valley mine is operating on a MoA which was sealed under a Mining Lease. The lease has limitation on mining activities and for Hidden Valley, the mine-life was predicted for seven years but it has exceeded. Therefore, we are in discussions with the government for a possible SML,” he said.
Mauri said the SML would bring in desired benefits such as the housing scheme for landowners, development of Wau town, education and health infrastructure, better road networks for Wau town and the surrounding communities and business opportunities.
He said they would fight to ensure that Wau town was developed into a better mining township and not like any ordinary town in Papua New Guinea.