By GABRIEL LAHOC
THE Markham Bridge community in Wampar local level government of Huon Gulf district presented a petition to Morobe Governor Luther Wenge yesterday, with claims that they, like the Watut River community, were suffering from negative environmental impacts from the Hidden Valley mine operated by Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV).
They said if their concerns were not addressed, they would shut down the Markham Bridge – a stance Mr Wenge dissuaded them from taking as it would jeopardise the development of the mine.
Mr Wenge, who initially signed the agreement with MMJV, which was operating as Harmony sold in 2005, said the developer had given an assurance that the provincial government through its provincial executive council, Sam Sewe, would endorse an independent team of scientists to study the Markham River to determine whether it was contaminated by chemicals from the mine.
Ward 5 Councillor Douglas Gedisa, with representatives from the three Labu villages, Gabensis, and the settlers around Markham Bridge, yesterday called for immediate assistance in the form of a water supply system, health and education.
Mr Wenge told the people that the agreement and operation of MMJV contributes immensely to the province’s economy.
“The province really needs the money.
“The revenue from MMJV assists us to pay for our children’s tertiary education scholarship and maintain the road infrastructure,” he said.
He reminded the people that MMJV had assured the provincial government and its people that they it has a very good tailings system to hold all the mine wastes, including mercury, cyanide and other mining chemicals.
“If this scientific study confirms your claims, then we will sue the developer or we will ask them to review the Memorandum of Agreement,” he said.