This was highlighted in a press conference that was held in Port Moresby today.
A statement from the press conference authorized by the President of the Catholic Professional Society, Paul Harricknen expressed several concerns in support of the opposition to sand mining by the landowners.
The statement said there is lack of free and fair, prior, informed consent, and absence of adequate consultation of majority of landowners and other stakeholders of the proposed tenement area.
If consent is to be free and fair it must be free of inducement or coercion of any shape or form, and be open and transparent. The consent of all traditional custodians of the land and resources and those who will be affected by the proposed project must be obtained prior to any government or project proponent’s activity on the land or report by the mining warden to the mining advisory board. Informed consent means, consent given after proper awareness and analysis of the pros and cons of the project. These important issues are now being questioned in a court application filed for the landholders in Madang.
“As was with the proposal for deep-sea mining, sand mining is new in PNG. There is no policy on sand mining. And in the absence of policy the State cannot grant license for sand mining without a specific law for it,” Harricknen stated.
Furthermore there is a Conflict with the Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) approved conservation projects in the proposed tenement area. There is already CEPA approved conservation areas along the same stretch of land so CEPA has conflict of interest if it allows both conservation and mining on the land.
As an interested State agency, CEPA is called to step in and make its position known.
The conference made a call on Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) not to rush any statutory process without proper compliance with law and the consultation process.
“MRA has to listen to the people who will be affected by the proposed project. The traditional landholders and conservation operators with current conservation permits interests have to be properly considered.”