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Mooted mining law poses risk to landowners

A SENIOR Australian academic says Papua New Guinea landowners will need proper legal representation and guidance if the PNG government introduces proposed changes to the country's mining laws.

The government is reviewing existing laws to revert ownership of resources under the land and seabed to the traditional owners.

Professor Spike Boydell from the University of Technology Sydney welcomes the move to make compensation for landowners more equitable.

But he says there's a risk they won't be properly advised when dealing with mining companies and could sign away their property rights for inadequate financial gain.

Asked if the proposed laws would “scare off” some mining companies from investing, Prof Boydell said: “There are a lot of resources in Papua New Guinea. I don't think that those resources are going to diminish if they investors look at other opportunities in the short term.

“What it will potentially mean is that the customary landowners will ensure that they understand what they're getting into much more clearly and they have time to reflect on the opportunity.

“So I don't think investors will go away for a long time, because they know they're dealing with significant mineral wealth, so I think that's just an understandable reaction and potentially an intimidation of the government and the government will have to show a lot of resolve if they're to deal with that sort of perception.”

Source: Radio Australia

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