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20 Apr 2019

Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic & Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict & Complexity

Red Water: Mining and the Right to Water in Porgera, Papua New Guinea

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[Key legal findings include]:..

1. The residents of Porgera do not have consistent access to sufficient acceptable and safe water, particularly during periods of low rainfall. Adequate information about water safety is lacking for communities, undermining their ability to make informed decisions...

2. The PNG government has not met its obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to water in Porgera....

3. Barrick Gold, Zijin Mining, and BNL are in breach of their responsibilities to respect the right to water and could do substantially more to support the realization of Porgerans' right to water....

Although many Porgerans fear that the mine pollutes their rainwater, our Research Team did not find high concentrations of heavy metals in collected rainwater—the main drinking water source in Porgera. However, poor company and government information-sharing and education has resulted in widespread fear... The government of Papua New Guinea, and the mine... have not done enough to promote access to safe water for residents of the villages surrounding the mine... nor... to ensure that residents have critical information regarding the quality of the water sources on which they rely, or any related human health impacts and risks... [I]t is incumbent on the principal duty-bearers, namely the PNG government and the mining companies, Barrick Gold Corporation, Zijin Mining Group, and Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL), to take immediate and sustained action to ensure that the grave concerns regarding the right to water are comprehensively addressed.

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