Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hidden Valley gold mining environmental issues



Dear all,

This is a challenge to us Morobeans.

 The plight of the people affected by the Hidden Valley gold mining needs immediate attention by concerned Morobeans. 

You may have watched this on the EMTV Tok Piksa sometimes last month where people developed skin diseases and are scared to wash in the river where the waste system from the mining company is connected.

Few deaths occurred in children while adults are struggling with the disease.

Also garden areas now under water and slowly turning into swamp areas as a result of high sedimentation believed to be from the waste discharge from the mining causing high water table and runoffs.

 This never happened before until after the mining operation started.

 Both Hon. Sam Basil and Governor Luther Wenge have pledged their financial support for an independent team of scientists to investigate the cause.

 However, to date nothing has come forth from neither member, simply because of political differences. 

Sam Basil is trying to engage a University of PNG team which includes me while Luther Wenge is trying to engage his own team with me as the team leader. However, the total cost of the whole exercise (from Upper Watut to the mouth of Markham river and Labu Buttu village) require combine amounts from both MPs. This is becuse the engagement of the team will be through consultancy work arrangements and the fees are relatively high in the case of UPNG.

 Meanwhile landowners association from the area is up caught up between these differences.

The landowners’ association simply wants an independent team to udentake the study, regardless of which team, but need money to engage a team.

Neither MP will release the money to the landowners’ association because both MPs want to deal directly with the investigation team for political milage purposes. 

 I am also now caught up between these political differences, because of my association with the teams to undertake the study.

The study needs to be undetaken thoroughly because of the size of the area and that we are up against a multi-million company, and our findings need to be credible.

 To cut down the costs I now want to undertake the study outside consultancy work (volunteer basis) but I will need certain specific expertise in mining and waste engineering, hydraulogist, aquatic biologist, and an applied chemist among the Morobeans to come foward and assist.

The major cost component in this case will be for water and soil samples to be analysed at the Unitech analysis laboratory.

The other cost components will include the logistic support (transportation, accommodation, etc.), and travelling allowances.

 I am now negotiating this option with the landowners’ association leaders.

Any ideas or technical assistance from the Morobeans will be greatly appreciated.

Associate professor Eric Kwa and I are working together in this case.

 I welcome any thoughts or ideas from those of you Morobeans out there to assist our people who are now the victims of the so-called economic development activities.


Dr. Gae Gowae

Senior Lecturer

Environmental Sciences


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