Villagers block miner’s exploration bid in Wampar

Lae News, Normal


HUON Gulf district administrator Tony Ase and liaison officers from the Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) exploration were verbally abused at Gabensis village, Wampar local-level government area, yesterday.
The meeting was held between the community and the officers to seek a common understanding to allow the first phase of the exploration work to begin.
The MMJV in Morobe alone has 13 exploration licenses among them, the EL 1590 that covers Wampit, Mare, Dagin, Gabensis, Markham Bridge and Labu Buttu.
The first phase, or grass roots exploration in the area, had started at neighbouring Mare village.
According to CRA minerals reports in 1970, the suspected sediment anomalies along the areas contained some of the minerals, but there was no baseline tenement survey in the area.
No samples had been collected to identify any mineral deposits.
The liaison meeting was disrupted by a villager who swore at district and company officers.
The officers from Huon Gulf district, headed by Mr Ase, included Wampar LLG manager Wesley Komboni, patrol officer Cliff Motec and special projects officer Vincent Aigal.
The MMJV team included community affairs exploration coordinator Winston Belepuna and Fred Tieven, field assistant Steven Tiki and geologist Charles Kiri.
Other officers included the two land mediators Wago Umpuano and Awa Naeman.
At the meeting, Mr Belepuna told the villagers not to confuse the first phase exploration with the actual mining activities.
He said actual mining would not eventuate unless the samples were proven to have economic value.
The first phase exploration was to set a camp at an area for two to three weeks to collect sand samples in waterways.
The samples were sent to the laboratory for testing to verify the form of mineral. If the samples are rich then trenches are dug up to set up the drills.
But the villagers wanted their land to remain free from any mining activities.
Mr Ase, before aborting the meeting, told the villagers to change their attitude and appreciate “the tough global challenges  and coping with it”.
“Whatever decision you say and do today will affect tomorrow’s generation in terms of improving basic livelihoods,” he said.
The officers have now gone back to the drawing board to devise an action plan to talk with the landowners of the 11 clans.