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Monday, 15 May 2017

Landowner Grievances in Mining Industry of Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Landowner Grievances is any form of complaints or request raise by landowning clans/tribes/families to the exploration or mining developer. Grievances can be addressed to government or developer/company for consideration and action.

The threat to the Mining Industry of PNG is the Landowner Grievances during the Exploration phase throughout the stages of mine i.e. to advanced stages to development stage to production to shipment.
Chief Mining Warden of Mineral Resources Authority Conducting
Mining Warden Hearing for Special Mining Lease 9 (SML 9) for Frieda River
 at Ok Isai  Village in Sandaun Province
If an exploration company is given an Exploration Licence to explore within 2 years with a possibility to renew every 2 years, the licence authorise the holder the exclusive rights to enter and occupy the marked out area for the purpose of exploration.


In the process of exploration some of the natural environment is disturbed and the holder is liable to pay compensation under Section 154 of the Mining Act 1992. The holder shall compensate according to the latest Valuer General's Schedule (Rate). The current one is the 2013 Valuer General Schedule 2013. During the exploration the license holder record any natural landscape before actual disturbance is done.

Sometimes, the landowners misunderstand exploration from mining and they demand the exploration company to pay them compensation at a dreamed figures that do not actually reflect the disturbances caused during the exploration. This is a common practice for almost all landowners.

Once the exploration phase is advanced to a stage where resource information is discovered and reported under JORC Code 2012 or any other reporting standards in the world, landowners get excited and put more pressure on the license holder in terms of handling landowner grievances.

There are two types of landowners, the legitimate landowners and paper landowners. Legitimate landowners are those who can be identified on the ground at the project area whereas paper landowners are those who claim to be landowners who usually have easy access to the mining company's/companies' offices and the mining regulators' offices.

Landowners at Ok Isai Village gave their views during the Mining
Warden Hearing of SML 9 - Frieda River Mining Project
To cater for and take into consideration such grievances, the Mining Act makes allowances for the landowners to express their views/grievances to the company and the regulators during Mining Wardens Hearing and Development Forums. These are avenues where landowner views/grievances are gauged and addressed through appropriate communication channels.



However, when landowner issues are not addressed properly, conflict arises the developer and sometimes it operations are forced to shutdown due to tension between developer and landowners. In such cases, the regulators and the company quickly resolve through community relations office for the developer.

Handling landowner grievances is always a challenge for the PNG Mining Industry.
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