Feb 22, 2010

Landowners call for AGL to be blacklisted

Papua New Guinea's Simberi landowners in New Ireland province are demanding the PNG government to immediately black list Australian miner Allied Gold Limited (AGL) among others from all mining activities in the province.

This comes after the company which operates the Simberi Gold mine believed to have committed serious offences in the recent engagement of the 14 controversial Fijian guards.

The list of demands by the landowners which will be given to the government soon stems out of serious offences particularly smuggling of foreign former military or paramilitary personnel into the country, raising of illegal paramilitary force, possession of illegal arms and conducting armed threat against the landowners and communities.

 In strongly condemning the offences the landowners through their Simberi Mining Area Association (SMAA) have declared the list of demands in a prepared statement which reads:
  • Demand the government for the absolute and unconditional revoking of all mine associated licenses issued to Simberi Gold Company or Allied Gold in the whole of Tabar Islands tenements.
  • Demand the government for its role in to facilitate a new economic landscape for the Simberi mining project and one where the landowners, people of Simberi and rest of the Tabar Islanders including the New Ireland Provincial Government have a dignified fair and just play and say.
  • Demand the government to facilitate a smooth transition of players involved in the Simberi mining project pertaining to issues of ownership, operation, and settlements of debts.
  • Demand the government to lay down effective regulatory criteria in the spirit of the relevant MOA and MOU to shape a new economic landscape for the Simberi mining project.

The SMAA also demands the government to institute further investigations into the unfinished business of accounting of all arms that were brought into the island including two unidentified expatriates, four rumoured marksmen, unknown containers on MV Geraldine and sudden departure of ship and expatriates.

While addressing the medium term demands the association urged the government to impose relevant sanction against any further contracting of enterprises by the Simberi mine project that acted as accomplices in some form to the commit crime. The contractors include Airlines PNG, G4 Security Services, and Eurest.

"We hope and trust the government may accept and act upon these demands in a speedy and favourable manner," the landowners said.

The SMAA however commended the government and its central agencies for swift action in removing the 14 Fijians from Simberi Island.

The association also praised the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) for a professional piece of work and job well done with risk free outcomes.

"Worth mentioning is the safe conduct of MV Lelani in transportation of troops despite having battered by worst weather conditions twice and having to make two turnarounds for safety," SMAA said in a statement.

However, the SMAA noted that the non appearance of the national delegation on the island including Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), Foreign Affairs and Labour had disheartened and frustrated the people.

The association views government special intervention on the island as relevantly demonstrative of a government authority and influence but said the mission would be undermined if no follow up engagements is anticipated by relevant central government agencies.

"Landowners' encounter with the devil on the island should not be simply underplayed by central government agencies. Allied Gold on Simberi Island must leave our shoreline immediately."

They said extended search for arms and investigation of breaches is needed to stabilize the local security and law and order scene. With only one policeman left on the island, the SMAA urged that the usual beef up of rural police presence must be attended to immediately.

"The implications of security toothlessness of the community mean the community taking matters into their own hands to fill in a void. This problem was the very substance of the plea for government intervention in the first place."

The SMAA said while it understands very well the limitation placed in the national security order, a review of that order in light of the aforementioned needs to be immediately addressed. 

Meanwhile, despite all these problems Allied Gold says it is on track with its expansion program to produce 200,000 ounces per year of gold by the March quarter of 2011.

It is also optimistic that it expects to produce a minimum of 17, 500 oz of gold in the third-quarter of its 2010 financial year.

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