Papua New Guinea Mine Watch
22 August 2013
Danu village shares the same sea area as the famous shark callers of Messe village next door. Danu, which means “water that never runs dry” in the local language, will have its people evicted by the Canadian ocean floor exploration company Nautilus Minerals.
This village land area has been earmarked to host an onshore infrastructure for Nautilus Minerals. The people have been ordered to vacate their customary land to make way for Nautilus Minerals. Hence; New Ireland is set to be the province to host the trial Solwara 1 mining venture.
However, in preparation for the eviction; a delegation of 15 men led by Benson Tomarum, spokesperson for Nautilus Minerals entered the village at night and forced villagers to sign the papers. Claiming the papers will make way for the Danu people’s benefits once the project comes into fruition.
In one instance, a signatory was inside church at the time the group came to the village. These men abruptly walked into the church and ordered him to sign. This ensued in a verbal argument inside the church.
On that same night, clearly confused and concerned villagers asked about the 24 000 signature petition against Experimental Seabed Mining (ESM), which was handed to Mining Minister Byron Chan in October of 2012. The group of men then lied to the villages and said the petition was in fact in support of ESM, and that the papers they brought was the actual result of the petition.
The aggravating concern was the manner in which the group entered the area and also the time it occurred raises suspicion on the operation of Nautilus with the customary landowners. Not only was there a forced signing, but it happened on a night, and without any prior notice.
Importantly; there was to an extent levels of coercion. And this was used to affirm a document that the unfortunate signatories; who did not have a slight gist of the content, had to sign. Furthermore, obvious elements of deceitfulness and intentional misuse of information were applied to drive their reasons.
Now, the question of whether there has been any consultation with the people of Danu still hangs. Or was there by any means; a democratic process of extensive discussion over the issue of evicting people, who have remained in the area for generations; is still left begging.
Though people are aware of the eviction, there are obvious divisions over the issue. To date, women are yet to voice their concerns. Since New Ireland is predominantly a matrilineal society; there has been no voice from the women folk, so far only men have been vocal.
Nautilus, as a world class operator should be questioned over how it is dealing with landowners, and what avenues it is using to get consent from the people. Byron Chan and his father Sir Julius should be apprehensive over their people’s treatment from Nautilus. Benson Tomarum and his men have to come out and make clear what they were up to that night, and why they had forced people to sign papers without making clear of its content.
NOTE: Since this article was written Nautlus has spoken to the media to allay fears about forced evictions and their Solwara 1 experimenta seabed mining project. Benson Tomarum who was claiming to be from Nautilus was an imposter and has been reprimended for his actions
Racheal Shisei via You Tube
22 August 2013