OK Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) employs more than 2,000 (excluding contractors) Papua New Guineans and it remains one of the single largest employer in the country.
The company’s Tabubil mine closure will mean loss of jobs resulting in a significant increase in the unemployment numbers in PNG.
The loss of revenue by the project will be regained or, better still, will be outweighed by the LNG projects.
However, loss of direct employment will be far more than what LNG will provide.
During the course of the construction, employment figures might increase and a huge decrease is likely in the production stages.
It is, therefore, highly unlikely that employment figures will be sustained at the high level during construction and production phases.
By the same token, young professionals are likely to secure other paid jobs elsewhere however, “oldies” and non-professionals might not be in the position to secure other paid jobs.
Ok Tedi is a copper mine with its ore reserves almost depleted and, worse still, has a record of environmental damage down the Fly River and its tributaries, assumptions that a new investor can invest at Ok Tedi, in my opinion, is not feasible. Ok Tedi preaches so much about having a social licence to operate, this social licence was issued at the expense of the environment.
In my opinion, closing the Tabubil mine will be like sending the landowners and workers to hell to suffer.
To strike a balance between relevant stakeholders, especially the landowners, workers, state and elected leaders a re-negotiation of the principal Agreement would be the most notable thing to do.
Instead of supplementary agreement, a new agreement must be negotiated to pave way for a continuation. Previous subsequent supplementary agreements contain cut-paste of the former agreements, hence minimising benefits to stakeholders, especially the landowners.
A new agreement must be reached under intensive negotiations, aimed at improving and maximizing social and infrastructural benefits of the mine impacted communities, workers and the region prior to its closure.
A failure to re-negotiate a new agreement will leave behind at Tabubil, especially at Mt Fubilan, a lake or a tunnel. Well, this might be the only evidence of Ok Tedi’s existence for the future generation.
Sind Apnita, via email