By GYNNIE KERO
PRIME Minister James Marape has given an ultimatum to stakeholders negotiating the US$5 billion project: “Wrap it up next week or I will step in and make the call.”
He said during a meeting on Tuesday in Port Moresby between the project developers, landowners and state agencies on the deep sea tailings placement issue in the Huon Gulf that too much time was being “wasted”.
“Time is of the essence.
“Time is going on and time lost will never be claimed again,” he said.
“Time lost is opportunity wasted.
“Conversation (on the deep sea tailing placement) has been in the public space for too long.
“Make a decision next week or else I will make the call.”
A final meeting between the developers, landowners and State agencies is expected to be held next week in Lae at the request of Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu.
The developers are Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd and Newcrest Mining Ltd.
Marape said next week’s meeting “must be the last”.
He said work on the mine must begin.
“Everyone wants the Wafi-Golpu project to go ahead,” he said.
“Next week, put all your issues and data on the table.
“Let’s reach a conclusion.
“Let’s find a way for mutual understanding.”
He said the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority would make an independent assessment on the projects “not influenced by the minister or myself in Cabinet”.
“Next week, if everyone is on the same page, we can agree so that a full environment permit can be issued,” he said.
“This will require all of us to make an honest assessment in proposals put forward – deep sea or land.
“I am a fair man. I am unbiased in my assessments.
“If you all want this project to go ahead, I will make some conclusions, based on fair judgment.”
Marape said the Wafi-Golpu project was an urgent situation “as far as time is concerned”.
“Next week, when informed conversations have been made, and if you can’t agree, I will step in and make the call.
“But when I make the call, there will be a caveat.
“Those caveats will be that in case something goes wrong, there must be an insurance plan put in place for our people.”
By GYNNIE KERO