MINING operations at the Simberi gold mine in New Ireland province resumed at the weekend.
By 3pm on Saturday, the customary gorgor was removed by the Simberi Mine Area Association (SMAA), according to acting managing director for Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) Philip Samar.
The temporary closure of the mine by MRA mines inspectors last month on safety, health, and welfare issues was lifted on Christmas Day “conditionally”, meaning that the company takes serious actions to rectify issues highlighted by MRA.
But mining and exploration operations could not resume until the customary gorgor was removed by SMAA.
Mr Samar in a statement said both the Simberi Gold Co (SGC) and the landowners represented by the SMAA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last Friday witnessed by MRA officials including Mr Samar.
The gorgor was then removed.
“The MoU commits the parties to discussing their respective issues at the forthcoming MoA review at the end of this month,” Mr Samar said.
He said the mine had resumed full production and access over the weekend and had commended both the Simberi Gold and the landowners for reaching an understanding to discuss their issues and to commit to building a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and understanding.
“I confirm the resumption of mining operations at Simberi and commend the parties for their maturity in resolving the impasse created by the placement of the traditional gorgor plant resulting in SGC ceasing all its mining and processing activities for the last 10 days.”
He said all parties should now work towards fostering and maintaining a new working relationship based on the spirit of the MoU just signed.
They should proceed towards discussing the substantive matters at the Simberi MoA review which has been scheduled on the last week of this month.
Mr Samar further acknowledged that there was a need for the parties to come up with a set of agreed protocols under the dispute resolution clause dealing specifically with the invocation of traditional practices such as the placement of the gorgor.
“Generally, the dispute resolution clauses for all the MOAs will need to be reviewed to strengthen the process of resolving disputes without allowing the recurrence of such isolated actions to derail the orderly conduct of legitimate mining operations around the country.
“The National Government is committed to ensuring that investor confidence is maintained by providing assistance possible to mitigate actions that might disrupt the legitimate conduct of business.”
Mr Samar said last Dec 30 that SMAA had formally presented its position paper to both the National Government and Simberi Gold, which the parties had acknowledged and accepted for presentation and discussion at the forthcoming MoA review.
He said the process moving forward towards the MoA review would involve a number of meetings and exchange of documentation such as the draft MoA document for the parties appreciation prior to the review.
“This consultative process will build the platform for launching the forthcoming review which hopefully can be concluded within the first quarter of this year,” Mr Samar said.