West Sepik Rejects PanAust Proposal

By: PNG Business News November 12, 2020

The government of West Sepik has rejected the proposal of PanAust, the developer of the US$7 billion (K24.4bil) Frieda River project, to construct a tailings dam at the headwaters of the Sepik River, administrator Conrad Tilau says. This, in spite of the fact that the project is expected to create many jobs.

Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) managing director Jerry Garry said that the government was still waiting for the proposal of PanAust for this project. He also remarked that a dam was not an option.

“We have rejected the developer’s environment plan and so they have to opt for another tailings disposal proposal such as deep-sea tailings placement (DSTP),” Tilau said. “We discovered that the developer’s environment report is not environment-friendly and the mine when in operation, will greatly affect the people and the environment.”

Tilau said that the developer gave them their environmental report actively seeking their support to push through with the construction of the mine.

“We engaged an environmental and mining consultant to review the developer’s report and our consultant discovered that there was no proper report about the geophysical layout of the area to determine if it was an earthquake zone,” he said. “There is no relocation plan and who would fund the relocation of villages to be affected by the mine? There was no proper data collection as some data was not accurate so there were no substances to convince us in the report that the environment will not be affected. The developer’s report was more like a cut and paste research.”

Tilau also added that the provincial government would not give their report for declining the environment plan of the developer to the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority.

“The developer wants their wharf to be at Vanimo but we want their wharf to be at Sera in Aitape because Vanimo will be an industrial and tourism park,” he said. “But the developer refused to listen to us because they still want to put their export facilities in Vanimo town.”

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