By JIMMY KALEBE
THE Union of Watut River Communities and the people residing along the Watut River in Bulolo, Morobe, have expressed concerns regarding the damage caused by mining activities upstream, a local government official says.
Mumeng local level government (LLG) deputy president George Paul said the Union of Watut River Communities (UWRC) recently presented a submission to respective government offices in the province and the national Government calling for their many grievances to be addressed.
Last Dec 3, UWR made their final submission to the office of Mining Minister Johnson Tuke which was received by his first secretary.
The submission called for the concerns raised by villages along Watut River from wards 16, 17, 18 and 19 and further downstream in Mumeng LLG to be addressed by the appropriate authorities immediately.
Paul said people raised their concerns regarding the general environmental damages to Watut River affecting the livelihoods of the people, the alleged illegal declaration on mining benefits among other issues.
The submission was also made to Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu and the Bulolo development authority (DDA) this year.
Paul said since 2011, people living along the river were affected by the Hidden Valley mining project as well as other outstanding issues to be addressed.
“Three weeks ago, we presented the Mining Minister’s first secretary in Port Moresby regarding the people’s grievances on the issues they faced,” he said.
Morobe Consolidated Goldfields Ltd (MCGL) social performance and communities manager, Geoffrey Fahey, said the claims by UWRC related to complaints made in 2009.
“This is regarding sediment run-off and flooding of Watut River allegedly caused by the construction of Hidden Valley mine,” he said.
Fahey said the then Hidden Valley mine owner, the Hidden Valley Joint Venture met with the landowners and made a one-off payment on all claims.
“A total of K4.53 million was paid for 4,093 claims in 2010 with each recipient who signed the statutory declaration form to confirm receiving the payment and the ownership of the affected gardens.”
MCGL is the current owner of Hidden Valley mine and is committed to operating the mine in an environmentally and socially friendly manner.
By JIMMY KALEBE