Coordination needed for alluvial mining

​Strong coordination and regulatory mechanisms are needed to keep track of opportunities and challenges faced by local alluvial miners.

PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) head of Secretariat, Lucas Alkan, said alluvial mining and associated activities contributed to the economic wellbeing of a good number of people living remote parts of the country and warranted intervention.

The PNG EITI says alluvial mining in PNG is largely unregulated and there is limited information amongst authorities and stakeholders about the size of this segment of the mining industry.

The MRA estimates that there are up to 80,000 small-scale miners in this category.

“This warrants putting in place strong coordination and regulatory mechanisms to keep track of opportunities and challenges that someone engaged in alluvial mining is faced with.

“Taking an inclusive government approach in regulating different facets of the mining industry is important. In this way we can give every participant a fair shake,” Alkan said.

According to the PNG EITI 2014 Report, alluvial mining accounted for 120,000 ounces of gold, representing around 6 percent of the total gold mined in PNG and K373.4 million in export revenue. Some 49,000 ounces of silver was also produced, to the value of K2.3 million.

The Mining Act 1992 allows people to mine for alluvial minerals on their own land by non-mechanical means without the need for a mining licence, with ninety percent of alluvial miners in PNG using rudimentary sluice boxes and gold panning dishes.

Small-scale mining conducted with powered machinery requires an alluvial mining lease or mining lease (for alluvial purposes) from the MRA, with 2014 recording 183 current Alluvial Mining Leases and 136 Mining Leases (for alluvial purposes).

The alluvial mining leases are granted for up to 5 hectares of land that is a river bed and extends no further than 20 metres from any river bed. The latter may cover up to 60km2.

There is also a requirement for a minimum 51 percent ownership by PNG nationals.

(Picture: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch)

Cedric Patjole