PNG’s Wafi-Golpu project talks stall

James Marape

Talks between the Government and stakeholders to get the US$5.4 billion (K18.5 billion) Wafi-Golpu project off the ground have been stalled again, but Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape says “we are not in a rush”.

The next round of talks will be held in Lae on 27 April, to resolve the remaining major issue of the mine waste disposal system.

Morobe prefers the terrestrial waste dam while the national government favours deep sea tailings placement (DSTP).

Ongoing negotiation

Marape told the people in Lae: “We understand your concerns of DSTP and better benefit requirement of locals. We are not in a rush. “We’ll go through that until every party at the table is satisfied and their concerns have been heard… These matters are not easy for a quick-fix solution,” he said.

The development forum on 27 April will be attended by professionals and stakeholders from the private sector and the government, provincial representatives and landowners.

Marape said the forum would be “as long as it takes because Wafi-Golpu is not a lightweight issue”.

PM considers parties’ concerns

Marape apologised to the developers for the delay but said that it would be beneficial in the long run, as it ensured that all parties’ concerns were considered before signing the deal.

Marape had earlier tasked his deputy Sam Basil to work with Mining Minister Johnson Tuke and the State Negotiation Team to bring Wafi-Golpu negotiations to a close before the Government could sign an agreement with the developers Harmony Gold Ltd and Newcrest Mining Ltd.

Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu said while the province wanted the project to start, they needed to sort out the mine waste disposal system issue first. Saonu said Morobe could make an exception for Wafi-Golpu to use the DSTP “but with very strict and specific conditions” and also added that the province was still against DSTP.

But after a three-month consultation with affected landowners, they resolved that should the Government and developer insist on using DSTP, then certain conditions must apply, Saonu said.