Owners oppose signing of deal

National, Normal

The National, Thursday February 13th, 2014

 LIHIR gold mine landowners have opposed the recent signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the New Ireland provincial government and the Nimamar local level government.

The signing took place in Kavieng on Feb 5.

Executives of the Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association (LMALA) met on Feb 7 and described the deal as illegal.

They said they did not recognise the agreement, which was a private contractual arrangement between the provincial government and the LLG and had no basis in law.

The LMALA leaders signed a petition that will be delivered to New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan, Nimamar rural local level govrnment president, Ambrose Silul, the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) and mine developer, Newcrest.

“We, the landowners of the Lihir gold mine, are very surprised, concerned and disturbed by the recent turn of events on Feb 5, in Kavieng,” they said in a statement yesterday.

“The ongoing Lihir MOA review process was hijacked by the New Ireland provincial government and Nimamar rural local level government where a new purported Lihir MOA was signed by these two entities without LMALA and the State, through MRA, being represented and being named as parties and signatories.

LMALA said the ongoing Lihir MOA review was critical because both the provincial and rural local level governments had breached their obligations and undertakings. 

“A classic example is the Lihir ring road obligations of the state and NIPG. 

“For all the gold that has been dug out of Lihir for the past 16 years, where is the promised road? 

“The NIPG got K25 million from the New Ireland Trust Fund in 2012 and, of that fund, K5 million was specifically for the Lihir ring road. Where is that money?”

LMALA said it would lodge a formal police complaint with the Task Force Sweep, Ombudsman Commission and other relevant state agencies on the use of the funds for the Lihir ring road, including the use of trust funds.