The shooting of a young boy at Barrick Gold's Porgeran copper gold operation has ignited the frustrations and outrage of local community groups and landowners around the mine site in the remote Engan province of Papua New Guinea.
The Porgera landowner association and other community organisations have been calling for relocation for several years due to the loss of sustainable livelihoods, the polluted and dangerous living conditions faced by their people and a range of human rights abuses including extrajudicial executions, rape and assault by company's security personnel.
The killing of a young local boy, Gibson Umbi from Weigima village, located just metres from the open pit operation, is the latest in ongoing attacks by security forces of the operation on locals whose villages are surrounded by the huge mine pit, mountaineous waste dumps and toxic tailings waste dumped directly into the nearby creek.
The loss of traditional gardening and hunting grounds has lead more people to take up small scale mining practices in and around the mine site as a basis for their livehood, including in the mine pits and waste dumps themselves.
Local villagers have been requesting relocation from the polluted and dangerous environment around the mine site, and a two year planning process for relocation by the company has now been abandonded with little explanation.
MPI's Executive Director, Techa Beaumont who visited the mine site in June this year stated "This situation is reaching crisis point and Barrick Gold is not taking the responsible or necessary path of action. The solution is clear. The socio economic conditions of local people, surrounded by mine waste and breathing air pollution from the 24 hour operations is atrocious. Barrick Gold has promised people they will be relocated and strung the communities along for years developing a relocation plan in consultation with the community. They need to relocate people immediately and be held accountable for the human rights violations that continue due to their inaction."
For more information:
Photos of villages surrounded by the mine's operations and further information is available from
Mineral Policy Institute: Techa Beaumont at email@example.com or call Natalie Lowrey on 0421 226 200.
Akali Tange Association : Jethro Tulin on 675-656-4499 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MPI has been conducting investigations into human rights abuses at the mine site for the last two years.
Additional background information:
According to local human rights organisation Akale Tange Association: "Our investigations have established that at around 7.00pm, Barrick security guards open fired on the local villages using high powered assault raffles, M16 and shot guns on the harmless villages. The reckless use of excessive force has resulted in instant shot to death of the late Gipson Umbi. In the last few weeks, three more locals have been recorded death under mysteries circumstances at the mine site. The death toll connected to Porgera mine operations has now gone beyond an excusable level, more than 60 have death so far and something urgent needs to be done by the National government and Barrick."
A youth interviewed in a village next to the mine site in June (name withheld) told MPI in June: " Our people have had all their gardens taken away, we are now living by this dump, they are forced to go to the dumps looking for gold as they have no other way to make a living. We need to be relocated to somewhere where there are lands for gardens and clean water, the mine has taken our land and now we have nowhere to go, our land is gone, there is nowhere to make gardens. We need to move from this place, we all want to be relocated because it is no longer a good place to live."
The following letter to Barrick Gold and Press Release are the views of Akali Tange Association and are forwarded for your information. They do not necessarily re the views or opinions of the Mineral Policy Institute.
Mr. Mark Fisher
Mine General Manager
Porgera Joint Venture (Barrick)
Mt. Hagen, Western Highlands Province
Papua New Guinea
Dear Mr. Fisher,
Subject: RECKLESS KILLINGS.
I write this letter to register our complaint with the strongest possible terms that your Barricks security guards are acting recklessly to remove life's of harmless indigenous community members. On the evening of 22nd July, 2008 your company hired MS14 members and security guards open fired on residents of locals at Weigima village. As result, a person by the name of Gipson Umbi age 15 was shot death instantly. Using of high powered assault raffle M16 and shot guns against harmless villages is not welcomed any more.
In the last couple of weeks more killing and deaths have occurred at the mine site and your company is responsible for every crime scene. The killing of late Gipson Umbi with excessive force is not a new tale. Wether it be company uniformed guards or police uniformed guards, the story tells that Barrick aided and abided every inch of the crimes.
In Toronto on May 7th 2008, when I met with the senior executives of Barrick, I was assured that management will do everything possible to eradicate the problems of killings at the Porgera mine site. We initially agreed that dialogue will be established with the stakeholders that include ATA Inc that we will find a way to address the issues before hand. And yet, we have not started that processes and killings and deaths occurring at the mine site are increasing at an alarming rate. We have now reached a point where any more deaths will not be accepted under any circumstances.
Therefore, as a matter of urgency you are demanded to effect the dialogue processes within the framework of the Toronto arrangement and engage and assist the local police to investigate and charge whoever is responsible for pressing the trigger to remove late Gipson Umbi's life.
I anticipate that you will fully cooperate on this alarming situation.
Jethro C. Tulin
Public & Chief Executive Officer
Akali Tange Association Inc &
For more information, please contact:
Email Techa Beaumont
Workphone: +61 2 9557 9019
Mobile: +61 409 318 406