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20 Jun 2019

Luke Fletcher & Emmanuel Peni, Jubilee Australia Research Centre & Project Sepik

The River Is Not Ours: The Frieda River Mine And The Threat To The Sepik

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June 2019

The Frieda River Mine is a project in development in PNG’s West and East Sepik Provinces, which seeks to exploit the copper and gold deposits there via an open cut mine and associated infrastructure including a hydro-electric plant and an integrated tailings storage facility.

...The Frieda River flows into the Sepik River, which is a 1126 km long watercourse that flows across the West and East Sepik Provinces on mainland Papua New Guinea (PNG).

...This report is about the desires of the people who live on the Sepik river to have their say about this project which, they believe, could have a huge impact on their lives and on their environment. It is a collaboration between the Australian-based Jubilee Australia Research Centre and the Papua New Guinea-based Project Sepik.

...One of the biggest challenges for the Frieda River project is how to build a safe and effective tailings storage facility, that can manage any acid rock drainage that might be generated.

Although the company reportedly submitted an environmental impact statement (EIS) to the Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority (CAPE), it has not been publicly released, nor has Jubilee been able to find one in its research.

...The report makes three conclusions:

(1) The lack of information released by the company about its environmental management plans are continuing to cause uncertainty about whether the company’s environmental management plans will be fit for purpose; 

(2) The potential for this project to lead to damaging social conflict and unrest is real and must be taken seriously;

(3) It does not appear that the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the communities living downstream of the Frieda River mine has been secured.