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Say 'NO' to Sand Mining in PNG

Catholic Professionals Society of PNG on Resource Sector Reform and on the Proposed Wafi Mine, Frieda Mine, and Sand Mining

1. Support for the Government’s Resource Sector Reform

The Catholic Professionals Society of PNG (CPS) supports the Marape Government’s resource sector reform. Our founding fathers have envisaged and advocated for PNG to take full and responsible control of the development of its natural resources to ensure a just and sustainable return to the nation and its people. National Goal No. 4 of the Constitution also calls for wise use of the natural resources such as timber, fisheries, minerals, oil and gas, for the present and future generations. Any development and extraction of these resources has to be mindful of the environment from pollution and destruction. Natural resources can be harvested but with less or minimal impact on the environment, rivers, waters, and land.

The Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC) cautioned leaders and citizens to be on guard against outside influence and domination of our economy, wealth, and resources for the current and the future generations. We are required to share and care for one another as one people, one nation, one country, and to avoid attitudes and practices of individualism, selfishness, and greed. We are to promote the idea that “there is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed”.

It is incumbent therefore on our leaders in Government, business and industry to ensure a responsible approach to the development of the nation’s natural resources and its economic development. Foreign developers are welcome but not at the cost of our people and environment, whether in the sharing of economic benefits or environmental damage to land, waters and the seas. Any and all approved projects whether in forestry, fisheries, mining or oil and gas have to attain a “win-win” situation for all stakeholders – Government, developer companies, landowners and people. The safeguarding of environment should also be a major consideration especially with the lessons from OK Tedi, Panguna, Misima, Porgera, forestry projects, and many other existing resource projects.

The Society supports any legislative reforms to support such policy. We must insist on downstream processing for our forestry and fisheries. Contractual arrangements must achieve a win-win position than simply continuing the concessionaire scheme relying on taxes and royalties. Landowners and people, especially those immediately affected by the resource extraction projects must be allowed equal participation in the benefits sharing. After all, they always stand to suffer the negative impacts of these projects whether with the economic benefits sharing or the social costs of environmental damages.

Under this stance we express our [caution and opposition] support for the Government’s position on Porgera and the Papuan LNG. These mega projects if properly and responsibly negotiated and agreed on will set a new benchmark for all future arrangements for natural resource projects in PNG. A policy or law to ensure a win-win and equitable arrangement should not be seen as bad or negative to any party.

2. Caution and Opposition to Wafi Mine, Frieda Mine, and Sand Mining

We also express our utmost caution to the proposed development of Wafi Gold mine, Frieda River gold mine, and Madang Sand Mine. The landowners and the Morobe Provincial Governments have already made their intentions known on the Wafi mine. The landowners and the East and West Sepik Governments have already expressed their positions on Frieda. Both projects pose serious environmental risks. Both are opposed to the proposed tailings. Both projects are not environmentally viable and sustainable especially with their proposed tailings, never mind their economic viability.

The proponent for the proposed sand mining in Madang has lodged with the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) an application for an exploration license. Majority of landowners have expressed concerns of lack of their informed consent, there is absence of policy and law of sand mining in PNG, the proposed tenement area conflicts with the Karkum conservation areas already approved by the Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), as well the tenement stretches into the sea which could end up in another seabed mining, and conflicts with the relevant environmental treaties and initiatives which PNG is a signatory to. We oppose sand mining in PNG until there is clear policy and specific law for it.

The people in the project areas will still suffer the worst of any negative environmental consequences and impacts. The National Government must take heed of these serious concerns.

We join the opponents of these three projects and express our opposition to the projects for their environmental concerns.

Paul Harricknen, OL


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