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Papua New Guinea Landowners to Challenge 29 Year Old Porgera Mine in Supreme Court

The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court has ruled a challenge against an almost 30 year old Canadian and Chinese gold mine in the remote highlands will go ahead.

A majority group of landowners from Porgera, Enga Province, are challenging the validity of a mining lease which covers the Porgera Joint Venture’s open pit and underground operations.

The Porgera Joint Venture (95% owned by Canadian company Barrick Gold and Chinese company Zijin) has produced 143 million tonnes of ore from the open pit and the underground has produced over 20 million ounce of gold since it began operation.

The Special Mining Lease was granted on 12 May 1989 and is up for renewal on the 12 May next year.

Jonathan Paraia, Chairman of the Justice Foundation for Porgera (JFPL), which first lodged the challenge in 2016, has welcomed this month’s decision.

“This mine has been responsible for human rights abuses, environmental damages and turned many of our people into mining refugees - no land no place to live,” he said.

This week (15th November) the National Court issued a restraining order stopping the Papua New Guinea Government and the mining company Barrick (Niugini) Ltd from progressing the renewal of the Special Mining Lease until April next year because of a failure to consult with landowners as is required by law.

“This lease must not be renewed until the mining company makes amends for past wrongdoings,” Mr Paraia said.

In September this year JFPL expressed their objections to Barrick Niugini Ltd’s application for extension of term of tenement for an exploration licence.

At the time Mr. Paraia said the mine had turned his people into mining refugees on our own land, he explained the people of Porgera are subsistence people and without land they cannot grow food to survive.

“People have died, women and girls have been gang raped, hundreds displaced on Barrick’s watch,” Mr. Paraia said.

“They (Barrick) have broken the rules and agreements, shifted the goal posts and have not operated their mine to environmental standards they meet in other countries,” he said in September.

Some of the human rights violations perpetrated while Barrick Gold have operated the mine have been documented and reported by Human Rights Watch in February 2011.

To arrange an interview contact:

  • Nicole Bond, Media for Justice Foundation for Porgera Ltd., Mobile: +61 417199369, Whatsapp: +61 417199369, Twitter: @reporterbond, Email: ​nicole@bondmedia.com.au

NOTE: Mr Paraia and the Justice Foundation for Porgera extends an invitation to any interested media currently in Papua New Guinea to travel to Porgera with him so he can introduce you to the community and show you the impact of the mine on the people and the environment.

JFPL BACKGROUND

The Justice Foundation for Porgera Ltd was formed in 2013 by landowner clan agents whose traditional lands are within the Special Mining Lease area.

There are 24 landowner agents recognised by the State in a Memorandum of Agreement signed in May 1989.

The JFPL was formed because of growing concern amongst the majority of landowners that the Porgera Landowners Association was failing to seek justice for significant and irreparable losses and catastrophic damage as a result of the operation of the Porgera Gold Mine over the last 29 years.