Landowners get their say at PNG conference

PNG landowners are not receiving basic services, which mining companies can afford to pay for, in return for the minerals being extracted from their land, according to a PNG landowner who questioned the country’s ministers at the ninth PNG Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference in Sydney yesterday.

“Many of us landowners or indigenous people are not getting the benefits that we are properly entitled to for the development of resources on our lands,” said the landowner, who did not give his name.

“When we sign on the dotted line for a project to be developed on our land, we do so to improve the way we live. We have been living in stone caves before and we expect that with the advent of resource development on our land there will be education for our children, that there will be doctors and nurses available to provide medical services.

“From many of the projects developed there is no medicine, no schools, no banks, electricity, no telephones [for the community] – the cost of developing these things is relatively small for the company, do the mining companies and the Government realise these problems and do they have plans to change the way they do business?”

PNG Government Gas Project coordinator Joe Gabut referred the responsibility back to provincial governments, saying it was not resources companies’ role to provide such services.

He also took the opportunity to remind landowners who continually asked for increased benefits from mining and petroleum operations that it is a commercial decision.

Acting Petroleum Minister William Duma accused landowners of “not wisely spending benefits”.

“I can’t speak for the mining industry but in the petroleum sector, there is a question over how landowners use the benefits afforded to them,” he said.

“It is an area of concern that both governments and landowners must look at.”