MADANG – At a meeting to discuss sustainable mining with European Union ambassador to PNG, Jernej Videtic, Papua New Guinea’s mining minister Johnson Tuke claimed his government is mindful of the impact mining has on the environment and people’s livelihoods.
Tuke also claimed the PNG government is addressing these issues by updating its regulatory framework and demanding investors introduce modern and sustainable technologies to diminish the negative impact of mining on the environment.
These claims were totally wrong. They were without truth.
In fact the PNG government has made no effort to update regulations governing mining companies. Neither has the government demanded that they introduce modern and sustainable technologies to diminish the environmental damage of mining.
Large scale extractive activities like mining and logging have devastated much of PNG's environment and and harmed many of the people of PNG, even resulting in loss of life.
Waste disposal from process plants and sediment runoff from open cut mines have been dumped into rivers and oceans, smothering riverbeds and seabeds with heavy metal contamination and other toxicities.
PNG still uses waste disposal methods long outlawed in other parts of the world even though its government has seen first hand their shocking consequences.
The Fly River has effectively died because of dumped riverine tailings.
Basamuk Bay off Madang has also been polluted by deep sea tailings.
There was recently a pipeline failure at Simberi in New Ireland at a mine which uses deep sea tailings placement, in use since the 1970s but banned in many countries, but not in PNG.
PNG accepts deep sea tailings' many risks, including smothering the seabed, release of toxic metals and tailings contaminating inshore marine environments that people rely on for subsistence.
There is also no regulatory framework for new activities like sand mining.
Recently, the people of Sumgilbar kicked out a Singaporean company, Niugini Sands Limited, that wanted to mine in Madang. The coastline there is a nesting ground to the endangered leatherback turtle.
Wenceslaus Magun and Sir Arnold Amet mobilised the people to resist the environmental destroyers.
Nautilus has pulled out of its venture to mine the depths of the sea in New Ireland after fierce resistance from Jonathan Mesulam, Oigen Wandalu Schulze, Nat Lowrey and others.
The PNG government and Mayur Resources are pushing for coal mining in PNG, an dying extractive industry that is out of date and should not be even considered suitable in this era of climate change.
All the while, the government talks of responsible and sustainable mining. There is no such thing.
The government is planning to open new mines at Wafi-Golpu, Woodlark and the Sepik (Frieda) which will use environmentally destructive methods like deep sea, riverine or dam tailings.
Wafi-Golpu waste will be dumped into the Huon Gulf while the Frieda mine will store waste in a dam at the head of the Sepik river which, according to experts, will collapse and destroy the Sepik river.
The European Union is pushing its Green Deal, also known as the green mining concept.
The term ‘greenwashing’ is applied to projects that provide misleading information about how a company's products are environmentally sound.
We must not be blinded by greenwashing and allow these environmental terrorists to plunder PNG’s resources and environment.
The PNG government and these exploitative companies do not care about the environment or the people who will be affected.
We have witnessed too much environmental destruction.
Let us end this madness.