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PNG villagers seek better return for resources

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 30, 2010) – Lagaip-Porgera Member of Parliament (MP) Philip Kikala has the backing of Porgera landowners, demanding an immediate review of a mining development contract between the state and developer Barrick Papua New Guinea (PNG) Ltd.

[PIR editor’s note: Lagaip-Porgera is a district situated in the western highlands of Enga Province in Papua New Guinea.]

Kikala, who is also vice-minister for National Planning, was in parliament yesterday with Porgera landowner leaders including chief Pakiku Pundi, Sole Paro, Johnson Kutako, Penjari Lavaipa and two former Lagaip-Porgera Members of Parliament Opis Papo and Anton Pakena.

They all agreed that Kikala would push for a review of the contract.

"The mining development contract was executed between the state and company. It is not the 17 subsidiary memorandums of understanding executed between the state, provincial government and the landowners where the company is not a party. We want the mining contract to be reviewed because it is blocking our chances to negotiate for a fair return for our resources," Kikala said.

The landowners wanted mining operations to be suspended indefinitely until the issue had been tabled, funds made available and implementation started.

The four issues included freezing the proposed sale of 5 percent shares held by Mineral Resource Enga to Barrick (PNG) and for the shares to be sold back to the Porgera people, relocation of landowners outside the special mining lease areas, address threats by landowners on Paiam Township and produce an updated sustainable development program.

Kikala said the company owned 95 percent of the Porgera mine with 5 percent equally shared between the Enga provincial government and landowners.

"The 5 percent is an asset. It is the future of Engans."

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