Port Moresby: The Catholic Professionals Society (CPS) and the Individual and Community Rights Advocacy Forum (ICRAF) jointly expressed opposition to the proposed sand mining on North Coast of Madang in a media conference held on December 3rd 2020 in Port Moresby.
Citing the absence of policy and specific legislation on sand mining, and lack of free, fair and prior informed consent and consultation with the traditional landowners and stakeholders CPS and ICRAF in support of the majority of traditional landowners of the land want the proposed project to be halted. Archbishop Anton Bal of the Madang Archdiocese who also joined the press conference and supported the call by the Catholic Professionals.
President of Catholic Professionals Society and Chairman of the Individual & Community Rights Advocacy Forum (ICRAF) Mr Paul Harricknen also called on the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) to clarify its position on the CEPA-approved conservation areas along the same stretch of land, as both mining and conservation cannot function on the same land. He has called on CEPA to undertake its own statutory process of consultation and make its position clear on the proposed sand mining project.
CPS also called on the Members of Parliament to end their political impasse to attend to such matters of national importance rather than to keep the people and nation in a state of limbo and anxiety.
Mr Harricknen emphasised on the encyclical of Pope Francis, on ‘Laudato Si’ (Care for Our Common Home). “The church teaching is very profound and is true that usually the poor and the environment become victims of major resource development projects”.
Present for the media conference included the media, members of the CBC Laity board and His Grace ArchbishopAnton Bal, Archbishop of Madang and President for CBCPNGSI. Mr Wenceslaus Magun,of MAKATA, a local NGO devoted to savingturtle nesting spots, expressed disappointment about the proposed sand mine project and explained to the audience details of information about the areas that will be impacted, if ever the sand mining is allowed to operate. Mr James Wanjik, a member of the CPS Committee who was the former Secretary of the department of Mines and Petroleum explained the proper processes required in the approval of prospecting licenses which he agreed was not duly followed in this project.
The debate on sand mining was driven after reports from local media indicated that Niugini Sands Limited, a Singaporean registered company, was working to obtain license, to mine 50-kilometre stretch of beaches that house 10 communities under the Sumgilbar Local Level government in Madang.
Sand mining is an extraction of sand mainly through open pits, on beach, inland dunes or from the ocean or river beds, the sand extracts are said to contain useful industrial elements, like abrasives for concrete.