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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 5) – The PGK466 million [US$164.7 million] Ok Tedi Mining Limited waste pipeline is not illegal.

"Also, a media speculation that disgruntled landowners have stopped the construction of the 130-kilometre pipeline is untrue,’’ Ok Tedi Mine said yesterday. "The pipeline project has not been stopped. It is not being built on customary land and it is certainly not illegal as claimed by the media report," OTML acting managing director David Masani said.

[PIR editor’s note: The Ok Tedi Mining pipeline, to be built by an Australian company, is to transport waste tailings from the gold mine to a treatment plant near the village of Bige. ]

The pipeline is being built on state-owned land along the Western Province’s Tabubil-Kiunga highway towards Bige for a worthwhile purpose — to reduce the tailings to the Ok Tedi River.

Landowners of the Ok Tedi mine yesterday disputed the construction of the pipeline, saying that OTML did not consult them before the construction began last month.

However, Mr Masani said: "The Government has also been involved in community consultations along the pipeline route with the same villagers".

"The National Government, Western Provincial administration and OTML have conducted extensive awareness to all the village communities along the Kiunga-Tabubil Highway including Bige Access Road regarding the pipeline project," he added.

Landowners also claimed that they did not sign any agreement with OTML for the project to start.

"I can not remember any agreement for the construction of the waste pipeline," landowner spokesman Biul Kirokim said.

But, Mr Masani claimed otherwise saying: "OTML has involved all villagers who are impacted by its operations in discussions regarding the pipeline and other issues including the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA)."

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