Alluvial miners protest gold bill

The National Gold Corporation Bill 2022 will restrict alluvial miners’ access to free markets; meaning, they will be forced to sell their gold only to the proposed National Gold Mint.

In response to that, small-scale and alluvial miners in the mining districts of Bulolo and Wau-Waria, in Morobe Province, protested against the National Gold Corporation Bill on Friday, May 3rd, in Wau.

The miners are against the government’s proposed National Gold Corporation Bill 2022, specifically, sections 215, 216, 227 and 228.

Section 215 of the National Gold Corporation Bill says: “The National Mint is the exclusive refiner of all gold mined or recovered from land in Papua New Guinea” while section 216 entitled “Gold refining is mandatory”, dictates that any gold taken from land in PNG must be refined through the National Mint.

This means that alluvial miners will not be able to sell their gold at the best market price possible while sections 227 and 228 give the National Mint the power to set the price of gold.

Speaking during the gathering, Biangai landowner, Ninga Yawa, said: “Since the 1920s, Wau has been self-reliant. Wau doesn’t need anyone’s help. Wau took care of itself until now.

“When we were under Bulolo district, we did not see any government service. We survived on our own.

“We paid for hospital bills, sent children to school, did everything because of our gold. We have no other way to support our livelihood. Even if the government neglects us, we will not care but if our gold leaves us then that will be cause for concern.”

Representing leaseholders from Pine Top and Waria LLG was James Taupa, who stressed on the need for proper consultation.

“Almost 90 percent of us are involved in gold,” he said. “Starting from Wara Bulolo, at the mouth of the Markham River, to Wau-Waria, we are living on gold. Our forefathers worked with Australians back in the day; we are now the fourth and fifth generation who have continued this lifestyle.

“When the government was changing laws and conversion lease and all these were happening, small-scale mining was gaining momentum but they were not interested in funding or supporting us and now, they want to do this. What is this bill? Have you asked me about it? Has the government asked any of you about it?

“Many of us have not gone to school and are unaware of what is happening.

“We were just going about our lives when we heard that under the new law, a specific police unit will be created. We already have a police force. What is this police? Police for which criminals? To police gold?

“If our elites from the district are against this bill then we also say no to this bill.”

A petition containing over 400 signatures from lease holders was then handed to the Member for Wau-Waria, Marsh Narewec, to represent the voices of his people in Parliament.

Loop Author