By MICHAEL LAI
RAMU nickel mine will close if no proper agreement is negotiated to benefit the people of Madang, says Governor Peter Yama.
He said the agreement that was signed in 2004 expired in November last year.
Yama described the old agreement as “rubbish and the worst-ever State-negotiated mine with no benefits to the locals”.
He said the Ramu Nico management (MCC) had not paid any tax for 20 years.
Yama told a press conference on Tuesday that the agreement would be renegotiated by all stakeholders including National Government, provincial government and the company.
“Old agreement has no benefits to the locals in Kurumbukari and Basamuk,” he said.
“It does not include the concerns of other minerals, apart from nickel and cobalt, that have been extracted and exported.
“It (company) does not pay corporate tax and no goods and services tax, to generate revenue for the province.
“The signing of the Ramu nickel mining agreement in April 2004 in Beijing was ill-advised and totally wrong. I don’t know how those public servants, including state-solicitor, were advising the government at the time.
“It is totally rubbish and no way in the world can we accept such an agreement.”
Yama said the people of Basamuk must have spinoff benefits like good roads, housing, health centres, schools, water supply and electricity.
“Right now, Raicoast and Usino-Bundi are the least-developed districts in the country, despite being host to the Ramu Nico mine and also the Ramu Agri Industry for Usino-Bundi,” he said.
“That agreement is over and it is time for the new agreement.
“I have a team of professional advisers from the mining sector on board to work with the government and the company.
“We will set up a new agreement in the interest of the people.
“Prime Minister (Peter O’Neill) must get it done. We want him to call a meeting and get it done.
“Ramu Nico has to come into roundtable discussion and get this agreement in place. If there is no agreement, Ramu Nico Company cannot continue to do mining.
“They cannot continue to do production.
“We are party to this agreement and we want the national Government to speed it up.”
Recently, O’Neill said that there would be no extension of the memorandum of agreement for Ramu Nico and there would be no agreement until the Government was sure there was fair benefit for the people and State.
O’Neill said new terms and conditions will be negotiated before a new agreement was signed.
By MICHAEL LAI