Discussions are underway between the government and a Singaporean registered company called Niugini Sands Limited. I have not been able to speak to the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) about the details of the proposal.
I intend to soon. I sent a request including a list of questions to the MRA for their input. They may respond this week, I hope.
I do know that there were a series of Mining Warden hearings along Madang’s North Coast within the Sumgilbar LLG area. A group of landowners protested. There were others who supported the proposal for sand mining.
While it is the right of landowners to decide what they want to do with their land there are several things they should consider. I write this with the Ramu Nickel mine in mind. Ultimately, it is the papagraun who decides who destroys their land and the government supports the foreign company and ‘pretends to follow procedure.’ No need to get all sensitive, we know that happens every time. Things have not changed.
The problem with ‘sand mining’ is that there appears to be an absence of legislation or regulations governing ‘sand mining’ in PNG. Somebody can correct me here, If I’m wrong. Sand is aggregate used in construction. At this stage, I don’t see the government agency tasked with managing the mining industry having the full oversight on this project. (This is an opinion. It is contestable.)
In the absence of legislation who enforces the law? And what laws do they enforce?
This situation opens up this proposed project to widespread abuse.
The company wants to take control of a 50 kilometer stretch of beaches. It will most probably be forcing villages to move inland. There is no limit to how much sand they will take. How much should they take? Do we know? What is the recommended limit? Or will they stop only when the beach front is totally destroyed. Is there a buffer zone of some sort? How is that determined? Who makes the rules?
The absence of clear guidelines will simply pave way for anyone to steal whole beaches with impunity. It will give rise to violence. The sensible landowners frustrated with not having access to traditional fishing and hunting grounds will protest.
We have not seen the worst of it and we should not allow it to happen.
If we allow sand mining, we will make way for organized crime and thieves to profit from our land. They will steal because our people simply do not have the ability to stop them from raping the land.