Villagers leaving gardens for gold

National, Normal

The National, Friday, May 13, 2011

ABOUT 360 people from the Saluk area, who share the border with the Enga and East Sepik provinces, have thrown away their gardening tools to go gold hunting.
They are now actively involved in alluvial mining after gold was discovered in eight locations along river banks in their area.
One of the villagers, Ipange Kiyalu, from the Wapi Lembel tribe in the Wapi local level government in Enga’s Kompiam district, who came into Mt Hagen to sell his gold on Tuesday, said the majority of the people walked six hours to Erem where they boarded a dinghy to follow the Yuat River to Angoram in East Sepik to sell their gold.
He said alluvial mining started on a small scale in 2009 but as more gold was discovered along the river banks, it had lured the entire village into panning for the precious metal.
Kiyalu said the people were no longer interested in gardening, instead they were going every day to pan for gold along the river banks.
He said they made more money than they had ever made before.
Kiyalu said the people had stopped gold buyers from outside going in because they bought their gold at a much lower price.
He said most people preferred going to Angoram and Mt Hagen to sell their gold.
He said most of the people travelled to East Sepik because it was cheaper by boat where they paid K50 to travel from Erem to Angoram.
Kiyula said sometimes they paid K270 and jumped on plane owned by Missionary Aviation Fellowship from Saluk to Mt Hagen to sell their gold.
He said, at other times, people walked two days from Saluk into Kompiam to catch a PMV into Wabag.
He said there was a major gold deposit there and appealed to exploration companies to check their area out.
Kiyula said because of the remoteness of the area, they wanted companies to come in quickly by building roads, provide other services and, at the same time, mine the precious metal.
He said he would be in Mt Hagen for two weeks and interested companies could call him on 7388 2667 so he could arrange a meeting with his people.