Sir Julius backs Simberi protest

Islands, Normal

THE New Ireland provincial government has rallied behind the Simberi landowners in their call on the Government to recognise their status as key stakeholders in negotiations to review the Simberi gold project memorandum of agreement (MoA).
In a letter to the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) managing director Kepas Wali, New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan said his government supported the sentiments expressed by the islanders who protested that they were deprived the opportunity to attend the preparatory talks and discussions held in Kavieng last month.
In a protest letter to Mr Wali, Simberi Mining Area Association (SMAA) executive chairman Joachim Maser said the consultative process in Kavieng was “hijacked and deprived the resource owners of any meaningful contribution”.
Mr Maser said they agreed that the current MoA needed to be revised.
However, the process must be accommodated to allow the landowners who felt the pain and grief to speak their minds and feelings about the issues that have already compromised their social settings.
In the letter, he said their intention was not to honour commitments made on behalf of the landowners.
Meanwhile, Sir Julius said his government supports the request of the SMAA for MRA to devise a process and schedule through which these consultations could be held.