Lockyer, whose name is synonymous with Australian rugby league, is also attached with an exploration and energy firm that is currently eyeing coal production in PNG.
The company is Mayur Resources Ltd where Lockyer heads its business affairs division.
Among those concerned Papua New Guineans was environmentalist and Northern Governor, Gary Juffa.
“This is a grave insult to PNG but most won’t realise it,” Juffa commented under an earlier article by Loop PNG.
“We have become so brainwashed that we will be convinced of anything if they simply put an Aussie rugby league player in front of it to sell it.”
Governor Juffa said Lockyer would not have paid PNG any heed “if he wasn't lobbying for his company to be given all green lights for coal, a substance that is helping accelerate global warming and contributing to all the consequences”.
Civil organisation, Nogat Coal PNG, said: “Last month Darren Lockyer’s company, Mayur Resources, announced they would be building a coal power plant to process cement at their Central Cement and Limestone (CCL) facility just outside Port Moresby near Papa-Lea Lea.
“It’s just insane that in 2020 with the climate crisis doing huge damage everywhere that coal would even be considered. There are cheaper better and cleaner solutions for making cement and powering electricity than coal.
“Lockyer, your entire country is on fire from the impacts of coal.”
Global campaigning organisation, Greenpeace, says coal is the single largest contributor to global warming and currently, one-third of all global carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal.
“Additionally, scientists are increasingly clear that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to leave 80 percent of global carbon deposits — like coal — in the ground.”
In response, Mayur Resources managing director, Paul Mulder, came to Lockyer’s defense, saying it is unfair to accuse him of using rugby league to garner support for coal.
“He’s a business man, has a very good professional life and has interest outside rugby league,” Mulder told Loop PNG. “He’s doing that out of his own will and time. It’s a good thing for the country and a good thing for the sport.”
In terms of Mayur’s interest in PNG, Mulder argued that currently PNG is importing heavy fuel oil and diesel from Singapore, “making Singaporeans rich”.
“It’s just sitting there when badly needed FX (foreign exchange) is sent to Singapore to bring heavy diesel for power.
“There’s cleaner coal in the country while you’re importing dirty liquid fuel,” he stated.
With modern technology, Mulder said emissions from coal production will be captured and prevented from polluting the atmosphere.
He believes if PNG produces its own energy, it will see an improvement in its current low human development index as well as alleviate poverty.
(Darren Lockyer with Kainantu MP and Mining Minister Johnson Tuke during a press briefing of the Eastern Highlands Super 8 Rugby League tournament on January 31 in Port Moresby. The tournament is an initiative of Tuke)