Resource Owners Commends Government on Ok Tedi Mine Take Over.

The Resource Owners Federation of PNG Inc. congratulates the government for passing the Bill to take full ownership of PNG Sustainable Development Program and Ok Tedi Mine. It was a right move in the right direction to save the country.

BHPhad surrendered itsownership of the Ok Tedi Mine but continued to run the affairs of PNG Sustainable Development Program for ten years.

The Federation finds it difficult to understand, why BHP Billiton had continued to be in control of PNG Sustainable Development Program and consequently the Ok Tedi Mine after relinquishing its ownership of the Mine

Any Prime Minister would be astounded after being told all these years that BHP had relinquished its ownership of the Ok Tedi Mine, therefore control of the mine, only to find a decade later it never left Ok Tedi at all.

The claim by the former Prime Minister and current chairman of the PNGSDP, Sir Mekere Morata that Peter O’Neill wanted the government to get its hands on the funds of PNGSDP is not acorrect statement.  What Peter O’Neill is doing now is to restructure PNGSDP with our own people managing it, not by strange people who live beyond and do not understand our culture, tradition, customs and needs of PNG. We do not want growing influence from outsiders to steal our resources and leaving us in poor conditions. It’s our asset and the maximum benefits must return to thereal owners.

The PNGSDP can operate the mine for the impacted people of Fly River, Western Province and PNG as whole, and more specifically address the ongoing problems in the Western Province such as social, economic, infrastructure and other development benefits. The government as a trustee through PNSDP can take over the operation of the mine and make it model for other mines in PNG.

The former Prime Ministers of PNG should reflect on the server environmental and social devastation done by BHP Billiton is the terrible consequence for the people of the Fly River which continue to be felt today. We cannot tolerate this blatant disregard for our river systems, land and the environment that our people live on them. BHP Billiton started mining by making bad decisions with total disregard for human lives. It was a death sentence for people of Western Province. They even put an indemnity clause in the Ninth Supplemental  Agreement so that no lawsuits would be taken up against BHP Billiton for any environmental damage from the mine operations and this was supported by the former government of PNG which has compromised the regulatory aspect of the mine.

BHPBilliton was given enormous favour by the former PNG government and allowed to exit ownership of Ok Tedi Mine without accepting any financial or moral responsibility for the server environmental and social devastation that occurred over the years during its management of the Ok Tedi mine.

All in all, the Federation urges people’s government of Peter O’Neill to ensure the mining companies stop trampling on the rights of local communities, and the communities have recourse to justice when abuses do happen. An inquiry must be set up immediately to examine the extend of the problem, and seek means to regulate and hold corporations accountable for their misconduct, including the legacy of destruction that BHP has left behind for people of OkTedi.

 

 

Jonathan Paraia.

 

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President.

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