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19 Apr 2020

Power Equipment Australasia

Papua New Guinea: Mine project in Sepik threatens to destroy river systems & way of life, advocate says

"PNG villagers call for help", April 2020


...Manu [Emmanuel Peni, coordinator of Project Sepik] said, a proposed mine — known as the Frieda River Project, comprising the largest copper and gold mine ever created in PNG, a hydroelectric plant, as well as associated power grid — threatens to contaminate or destroy immediate and downstream river systems, and ruin the traditional ways of life of 400,000 people. Specifically, tailings containing toxic chemicals, impossible to control and treat effectively in an isolated, rugged and seismically active region like the Sepik, could affect fish stocks and human health well beyond the physical confines of the project; similarly, altered river flows could harm villages and associated farmlands.

The Frieda River Project is an initiative of PanAust, an Australian-registered company that is 100 per cent owned by the Chinese Government.


Manu has received four death threats in relation to his advocacy work against the Frieda River Project, and his own government is seeking to prosecute him for allegedly inciting violence via social media. [...]

Despite the incompletion of the approval process, "they have already started bulldozing, cutting trees, clearing roads: all those things without any permit or agreement," Manu said.


Manu's advocacy work with Project Sepik enjoys the support of human rights organisations and corporate watchdogs around the world....