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29 Sep 2020

Environmental Defenders Office

United Nations Raises Human Rights Concerns Over Proposed PNG Mine

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29 September 2020

Eleven United Nations representatives have written to stakeholders of the proposed Frieda River copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to raise their concerns about the mine and the risk of failure of its proposed tailings dam. 

Ten UN Special Rapporteurs along with the Chair of the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, have sent strongly worded letters to the PNG Government; Australian Government; Chinese Government; and Frieda River Limited, among others. The project is being developed in PNG by Frieda River Limited, which is a Chinese state-owned entity but has strong links to Australia.

The letters, which were recently released, raised ‘serious concern’ about the potential and actual threats of the project to human rights, including the rights to life, health, bodily integrity, water and food, and the right to free, prior and informed consent. The letters also raised concerns that the people of the Sepik River ‘will be forced to bear the costs of the project in perpetuity’.


The letters from the UN representatives follows an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxic Wastes, which was filed by Project Sepik and CELCOR in May 2020. 


The letters from the UN representatives further stated, “We remain concerned that critical information about the tailings dam, including the dam break analysis, have been made neither publicly available, nor available to affected community members and human rights defenders who request it.”