All key stakeholders in the Simberi gold mine in New Ireland province have agreed to move forward in a spirit of co-operation and open communication, following a landmark meeting held in Kavieng.
The meeting, attended by representatives from the national government, provincial government, local level government, landowners and the mine operator Allied Gold Plc, has been heralded as the start of a new era for the project.
The quarterly review meeting heard reports from the company on the progress of the mine, its management of environmental impacts, plans for future development and sharing of benefits from the operation.
The meeting chairman, acting secretary of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management, Shadrach Himata, said he was very encouraged by the positive spirit of the participants and he congratulated Allied Gold on the progress it had made.
“This is an important project for PNG and New Ireland in particular, and I am most encouraged to see the open communication and process of dialogue that has been established over the last two days of discussions,” he said.
“I believe that all of the participants were impressed with the work that Allied Gold has done, particularly in environmental management, and in the development of medical and health services. “And we welcome the company’s commitment to expand its plans for development of sustainable community businesses flowing from the operation of the mine.”
Landowner representative Henry Salin said he was very pleased with the company’s operation of the Simberi mine.
“The company has done all that is required of it, and stakeholders were reassured, and in some cases surprised, to see the excellent progress that has been made and the high standards of management. "That is why we are standing firmly behind the company.
"This meeting provided an important opportunity for all landowners to have an input into the development of the mine, and to have their voices heard."
He was joined by the vice chairman of the Simberi Mine Area Association, Vincent Maris, who said the meeting created a strong platform for the future and represented an excellent start for further dialogue.
“We look forward to working with all the stakeholders to maximise the value of this operation for the people of Simberi,” he said.
Aisoli Topu, second secretary to the Mining Minister Byron Chan, congratulated the attendees for their constructive contributions.
“We have built a solid foundation now for the stakeholders in Simberi to move forward in a spirit of partnership,” he said.
Acting New Ireland provincial government administrator Monovi Amani said the meeting had opened a new page of understanding for the Simberi project.
“This meeting has been long overdue, and I am very pleased that we have broken down the walls together, and we are starting to speak to each other face to face,” he said.
Allied Gold General Manager of the Simberi mine, Peter Du Plessis, said the company was grateful for the participation of all levels of government.
“We look forward to continuing to communicate in an open, honest way with all the stakeholders so we can create a common understanding of the issues.
“The Simberi mine is progressing well with its planned expansion, which will deliver higher production leading to increased royalties and benefits for all stakeholders.
"We are grateful for the support of all levels of government and landowners in the ongoing development of Simberi, and we look forward to continued discussion and open communication with all stakeholders,” he said.