The Tolukuma (Yulai) Landowner Group representing landowners of the Tolukuma Gold Mine refused to sign the revised Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in Port Moresby today.
Chairman George Gusi snubbed the long overdue revised MOA, claiming there are still outstanding issues to be settled.
Facilitated by the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), the signing ceremony was attended by Mining Minister Byron Chan, Central Province Governor, Kila Haoda, Executive Director of Asidokona, Vincent Siou, Woitape LLG President Joe Geru, and MRA Managing Director, Phillip Samar.
Speaking at the ceremony, Gusi asked for an extension to iron out outstanding issues which they want to see contained in the current MOA as he claims there was a lack of consultation by the MRA.
He said some of the outstanding issues include:
Establishment of the Infrastructure Development Committee;
Environmental damage report on the waterway and tailings dam, which is a national issue on the reputation of the mine;
No proper mine development plan showing the lifespan and economic value of the mine; and
No proper landowner business plan under the spin off benefits and life after mine programs.
Gusi also asked why there was a rush to sign the MOA on the eve of the elections, questioning the legal basis justifying Minister Chan and Governor Haoda to proceed as signatories.
“We are confused as to why we are rushing to sign. I strongly recommend that we defer the MOA signing till after the return of writs. It’s only five weeks away,” he said.
“So after the elections, we have a legitimate Government and authority to execute our MOA.
“Ladies and gentlemen, both national and provincial governments have totally failed to implement many undertakings in the previous MOA.”
Despite his refusal, the signing ceremony went ahead with all parties content with the MOA. Gusi maintained his stance and did not sign.
Following the singing, Minister Chan said the previous MOA did not contain any Government commitment, however, the revised agreement contained guarantees which the government was willing to deliver.
They include, among others, the Tolukuma Highway upgrade project.
Chan said he would not have proceeded with any signing if he knew there were still outstanding issues.
However, he said the revision of the MOA was an ongoing thing and any outstanding issue would be catered for down the track.
“Whatever we sign today, it’s continuous, it’s a Government commitment to the people of Central Province, Goilala District and to your people. It is our commitment,” he said.
“This Government has committed all of these projects to you as of today.”
Meanwhile, Bonnie Gelu, from the State Solicitors office, who was present informed landowners and guests that Minister Chan and Governor Haoda, as signatories to the MOA, are acting within the legal parameters as they are still recognized as elected leaders until the return of writs.
Picture: Signatories to the revised Tolukuma MOA having a toast while Yulai Landowner Association Chairman, George Gusi, shows disinterest.
Author: Cedric Patjole, LOOPPNG