The National, Friday 06th January 2012
AFTER waiting for five years, the people of Tabar, New Ireland, through their Simberi Mining Area Association (SMAA) finally received K164, 000 – being 15% of the administration component of the Simberi mining royalty.
Mining Minister Byron Chan said it was a special moment for the people to be relieved of the burden of running their association without operational funds which were stopped because of differences between mining lease landowners, SMAA and Allied Gold Plc.
But he said the SMAA was recognised by the government because its legitimacy as an association was mandated by the people of Simberi during the election in 2010.
The issues among SMAA and the faction from the mining lease landowners could have been managed had the Mineral Resources Authority been neutral and committed in negotiating a solution to recognise SMAA as a legitimate association for the landowners of Simberi and Tabar, Chan added.
He said the issues were made worse when the developer Allied Gold Plc and its subsidiary Simberi Gold Ltd failed to recognise the legitimacy of SMAA and created a parallel system favouring the Mining Lease 136 landowners.
“I deplore this action and ask Allied Gold Plc to encourage a parallel system to deal with landowner matters.
“I asked both the Mineral Resources Authority and Allied Gold Plc to recognise the legitimacy of SMAA and work with them in every way possible to help the common people of Tabar and bring normalcy and build a sound and cordial working relationship among all stakeholders in the Simberi Gold project.
“I also call on the ML 136 Landowners to participate fully in the Simberi Gold MOA Review to ensure their concerns are accommodated in the new MOA. I say this because the MOA is the only policy I, as minister and the government of the day, recognise because it spells out the wishes of the Simberi and Tabar people,” Chan said.
He also commended the former minister John Pundari for initiating the reconciliation ceremony between the ML 136 Landowners and SMAA.