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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, May 5) – Papua New Guinea based Lihir Gold Ltd is to spend up to K2.5 billion [US$881 million] on community development projects over the next 10 years.

It will be one of the highest capital investments by any company operating in the country since Independence.

Executive general manager Noel Foley said the company was prepared to deliver the commitments made by the previous owners of the mine.

Mr Fowley said Lihir Gold Limited would deliver the promised benefits to show its support for the local community and to empower the people.

He said the company planned to establish a trust fund for the people to save their excess from the integrated benefit package.

Mr Fowley said the company believed it would only receive support from the local community "if we work in partnership with the people’’.

He assured the Government of the continued support of the Lihir Gold Ltd and it looked forward to working with the people of Lihir.

Meanwhile, the Lihir people and the Namatanai electorate would now benefit from 70 per cent of royalties from the mine.

Thirty per cent would be given to the Nimamar local level government for infrastructure and LLG projects.

A revised agreement signed on Wednesday on Lihir Island which took more than six years to complete, is the first revised agreement in the history of mining in PNG.

The villagers were commended for their patience and understanding over the years and were assured the wait was worth their while.

Mr Mark Soepang, independent chairman for the Integrated Benefit Program (IBP) also urged the Government to consider revising the Mining Act as people of PNG were born to the land and would die with the land.

He said the benefits from mining development were short-term and the losses were permanent.

However, the new agreement provides the opportunity for villagers and beneficiaries of royalties to develop human resources and to aim for self reliance.

He said this would guarantee long-term benefits when the mine project ceased operation.

The president of Nimamar, Clement Danda said the villagers had waited for a long time and thanked the Lihir Gold Ltd for its continuous support and the present benefits the mine

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