Hon. James Marape, MP – Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Press Statement on the Occasion of signing of the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) Approval-In-Principle (AIP) for Wafi Golpu Mining Project.

I am pleased to announce today that the Government has reached an understanding and agreement on the way forward with the Morobe Provincial Government particularly the Provincial Governor, Hon. Ginson Saonu, to enable the advancement of the project with the signing of the Approval-In Principle for the Environment Impact Statement for the Wafi Golpu Mining Project.

The decision to stand with the National Government’s decision to give clearance to the Environment Approval for the EIS for the Mining Project will enable the National Government and its relevant Agencies to commence discussion and negotiation on the next phase of the project milestone.

This includes the process for the granting of the SML, negotiations of the Mining Development Contract (MDC) between the State SNT and the developer and the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between all relevant stakeholders comprising the Morobe Provincial Government, relevant landowners, local level governments, developer and the State.

From the outset, let me firstly thank, the People of Morobe for hosting this every important and significant national project.

I want to also express my sincere gratitude and profound appreciation to the leadership demonstrated by Hon. Ginson Saonu, who I must admit vehemently fought to put forward the Morobe Provincial Governments position on the issue of Deep Sea Tailings Placement.

The Governor’s message and position to the National Government has been consistent and clear.

The People of Morobe do not want DSTP but want the Wafi Golpu Mine to go ahead.

It is clear from the Governor’s position that their preferred method of containing the mine tailings is to build a Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) to place and store all mine tailings.

The Governor added that the Wafi Golpu Joint Venture predicted that they would recover only 70 per cent of the minerals.

The Morobe Provincial Government is proposing that the 30 per cent lost in mine waste needs to be recovered because if it is place in the DSTP, the minerals will be lost forever.

Therefore storing the mine waste in a TSF will provide opportunity for MPG and interested investors to mine the waste in the future.

The National Government fully understands MPG’s desire to mine the 30 per cent lost minerals and appreciates that the TSF will need to be built to store the mine waste.

As a compromise the National Government has agreed that the issue of mining tailings waste will be looked into with assistance from the National Government through a 50/50 arrangement to sponsor a feasibility study led by the Morobe Provincial Government.

The Feasibility study will involve:

– Bulk sampling of mine waste tailings over a three- year period;

-Testing of mine waste to determine presence of gold and copper minerals;

– Determining best available technology capable of extracting gold and copper in amounts that give best return on investment


– Determine the type of TSF that meets the ANCOLD criteria and associated costs;

– Prepare a bankable proposal for funding of the refinery initiatives of the Morobe Provincial Government by Financial


The National Government also proposed that rather than focusing on treating the mine tailings waste, the Morobe provincial Government should consider investing in a Gold and Copper Smelting Venture, which will be the first of its kind in PNG.

The smelting operation could be based in Lae and to smelt gold into Gold Bullion or focus purely on the treatment of copper.

The National Government will assist with the Feasibility Study and will be led by the MPG. Should this be the case, then a related critical investments required to support the Smelting operation include the consistent supply of cheap energy like hydropower.

The National Government is pleased that the Morobe Governor has agreed to the two proposals and the ensuing feasibility study that needs to take place.

The National Government is also pleased that the Morobe Provincial Governor has agreed that further discussions and details of the feasibility studies will be developed during discussions and negotiations of the MDC and MOAs.

Following the signing of the Approval In Principle by the Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. Wera Mori, the mining process covering the SML grant, MDC and MOA negotiations will commence.

I will expect the MPG to be actively involved in the discussions and negotiations at Public forums and the MOA discussions.

With that I take this opportunity once again to thank all the Morobe people and community leaders for your tireless effort in bring this project a step closer to fruition.

You have all worked tirelessly in the last five years to get this project off the ground and we have all just climbed over the first mountain. There are a lot more mountains to climb and with all our perseverance and persistence we will all get there.

I acknowledge also the contribution of our former Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Sam Basil and the other Morobean Members of Parliament as well as Members of the Provincial Assembly who have in one way or another contributed to the achievement of this milestone.

Let me also at this juncture, acknowledge and thank with profound appreciation, the Bishop of Lutheran Church in Morobe and your members for your hard work and commitment in raising awareness on this important project.

As you are all aware, we all stand here today to witness the signing of the Approval-In-Principle of the Environment Permit for the Wafi Golpu Mining Project.

This is a milestone project for the country and also for the people of Morobe Province.

The mining project is truly a project of National Significance that will benefit the landowner communities, the people of Morobe and the country at large.

The proposed mining project will comprise of construction and operation of an underground copper-gold mine as well as associated ore processing, concentrate transport and handling, power generation, water and tailings management and associated facilities and services.

The opportunities that exist for local participation in the various phases of the project by the landowners and the people of Morobe is there to be seized and maximum use be made of the spin of benefits

We have to start the Wafi Golpu Mining project immediately if we are all going to reap maximum benefit from the project.

This approval we are witnessing today is the first step of the Government’s regulatory process in considering and approving projects of this magnitude

I am satisfied with the briefings I have been receiving on continuous basis by the Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change.

I am also confident that all matters relating to environment protection, mine waste management and disposal, as well as ensuring environment standards and guidelines are complied with and have been fully captured in the environment permit to be granted to Wafi Golpu Mining Project once the Approval-in-Principle is granted by the Minister.

With that, I would like to thank the Minister for Environment and

Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. Wera Mori and your Managing Director Mr. Gunther Joku and the CEPA Technical Team and the State Team for your tireless efforts in ensuring that proper and adequate consultation is carried out and the views of the people of Morobe, the mine site communities, the pipeline communities and the coast line communities of Morobe Province are heard and noted.

I want to also extend my appreciation to Hon. Johnson Tuke, Minister for Mining, the Managing Director for MRA, Mr Jerry Garry, the Secretary for Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management, Mr Harry Kore and all the SNT Members for your consistent support and commitments towards the preparatory work at the SNT level and other forums in progressing this important mining project.

I invite you all to join me in witnessing this significant and historical signing by the Minister of Environment and Conservation and Climate Change.

This is a milestone achievement in the history of our country.

Authorised for Release by:

Hon. James Marape, MP

Prime Minister


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