By BOURA GORUKILA
TWO landowner factions of the Porgera mine re-united yesterday and are appealing to the Government, former mine operator Barrick Niugini Ltd, Kumul Mineral Holdings Ltd and stakeholders to re-open the mine as soon as possible.
The factions named Barrick Out and Barrick Stay headed by brothers Nixon and Maso Mangape reconciled and re-united because they had suffered enough since the mine shut down 18 months ago.
Chief landowner and former MP for Lagaip-Porgera Nixon Mangape, who led 23 landowners to sign the mine agreement in 1989, said the two factions united as requested by the Government and were appealing to it to conclude negotiations with Barrick and reopen the mine.
“There are no more two factions, we have united as one to work with the Government and the operator,” he said.
“Our people, 40,000-plus, are suffering in Porgera, parents cannot afford to pay school fees this year because there is no cash flow after the mine had shut down.
“The Prime Minister James Marape always talks about ‘take back PNG’.
“You should start with Porgera.
“If you don’t open the mine by next Monday, we ourselves (landowners) will mine the gold or look for other investor who might have interest in the mine.”
Maso Mangape, chairman of the Porgera Landowners’ Association (PLOA) negotiation committee, shared the opinion.
Enga deputy governor and Porgera local level government president Leo Kuala flew in from Porgera to witness the re-union.
He joined the landowners to call on the Government and operators (former and current) to re-open the mine.
“The people of Porgera have suffered enough and there’s no reason why the mine won’t open,” he said.
Deputy chairman of PLOA, who is also a chief landowner, Dickson Pundi, said they would represent themselves as landowners in the negotiations and framework as they had enough landowners to represent themselves.
“If there’s a negotiation, we have to be present because we have all united as one,” he said
“Adding to that, any benefit that comes, we have our very own people here to take care of them.
“We have enough managers to manage funds, unlike in the previous years where the state had their say as well as the provincial government.
“Finish the framework and go open the mine.”
The Porgera mine has operated for the last 30 years until its shut down last year because its licence had expired. The mine was refused renewal of its licence because of the environmental damage it had caused.
By BOURA GORUKILA