United Nations Special Rapporteurs Raise Concern on the Freida Mine Project in Papua New Guinea

On the 28th September 2020, Project Sepik and the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) held an urgent joint campaign media conference on behalf of the 100,000+ people of the Sepik region and Papua New Guinea, calling on the government put a total stop to the proposed Frieda Mine to progress further.

The urgent call by the civil society was in light of the United Nations eleven (11) special Rapporteur report released early this year. The letter urges the Papua New Guinea, Canadian, and Australian governments to put a stop on the mine.

Mr Peter Bosip, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) Inc. said: “The address by the Special Rapporteurs to the Government of Papua New Guinea in relation to the impact of the Frieda River gold and copper mine is very important and should be considered seriously. 

Ten United Nations Special Rapporteurs, along with the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, have written to the PNG Government to raise their concerns about the proposed Frieda River mine and the risk of failure of its proposed tailings dam.

The Frieda River copper and gold project is controlled by joint venture between Chinese state-owned PanAust and Australian Stock Exchange-listed Highlands Pacific, at 80 percent and 20 percent respectively.

According to letters sent by the U.N. representatives to the Papua New Guinea, Australian and Chinese governments, the project poses “serious risks to the enjoyment of human rights of affected populations, in the context of risk of failure of a proposed tailings dam, and associated infrastructure on the proposed Frieda River gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea.”

“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,” they wrote.

“This address shows how serious the risk posed by the Frieda River mine to the Sepik really is. Never before in this country have, I come across such a powerful international statement issued before a mine has been approved or had one piece of pipeline built,” said Mr Bosip. 

There are so many things at risk if the mine chooses to go on. “If the Papua New Guinea government agrees for the mine to go on, it will be an insult to us Papua New Guineans”, said Zephaniah Winduo- spokesperson for Project Sepik . “Twenty-Eight (28) Haus Tambarans ( spirit house- meeting place for decision making) agreed and signed on the Sukundimi Declaration to stop any mining activity to happen along the Sepik river. If the government goes against this decision it means they have no respect for the local people,” Winduo added.

The Twenty-Eight Haus Tambaran represent over 100,000+ population and the decision is on behalf of these people.  The Sukundimi declaration can be accessed on https://savethesepik.org/the-supreme-sukundimi-declaration/ .

Before the mine goes into operation and causes great destruction support the cause to SAVE THE SEPIK: BAN FRIEDA MINE. Sign on the petition using the link https://savethesepik.org/take-action-4-sepik-river/

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A short film for the campaign is also available here.

For more information on the campaign on Save the Sepik: Stop Frieda Mine visit the official website on https://savethesepik.org/ and https://celcorblog.wordpress.com/about/ and sign the petition

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