The Environmental Division of the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) will be visiting the Watut River Communities to address issues related to the Hidden Valley Joint Venture garden Compensation payment.
The 50:50 joint venture company of Newcrest Mining of Australia and Harmony Gold of South African have been paying the villages some compensation for the garden due to Sediments wash down from its mining operation at the Hidden Valley which was situated in the headwaters of Watut River system, affecting its aquatic life, its ecosystem and the communities whose daily lives depends on it. Apart from toxic waist and sedimentation wash off, sediments are now being settle in communities along the Watut River which are situated well pass the Hidden Valley Mining Compliance Permit or mixing zone covered under the Hidden Valley Mining Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). These has now causeing the river beds to raise up affecting communities gardens, recreational sites, secret sites and causing vegetatin to dry dieback.
HVJV, the registered name or the trade mark name Morobe Mining Joint Venture - MMJV; the company set up to manage the Hidden Valley Mine by the Newcrest and Harmony Gold has been paying the communities compensation since the end of last year to February 18 this year (2011). As HVJV process of payment, Statutory Declaration and Sworn Statements were also given to the individual claimants to sign or post a fingerprint in agree that what has been paid is of final satisfaction and of full value and a paid as one-off. The payments varies with minimum being K4.00 with maximum being K26 000.00. Although majority of the communities agrees for the payment, 80% of them receive payment range between K60.00 - K300. Majority of the Middle and Lower Watut fall under this cheating trend by the HVJV and have already sign the statement. In addition to that, certain community leaders assisting the HVJV Community Liaison officers have been given allowances and special consideration in their payment.
The way valuation have been carried out and payment done are of serious violation to the human rights of the communities as only individuals having close relationship with the HVJV liaison officers have been paid huge sums of money despite them having little or no garden at all as witness when the assessment was being carried out.
With this mismanagement practices of the HVJV Officers, the local campaign group - Union of Watut River Communities (UoWRC); has been running awareness to communities urging them not to sign their rights away to these foreign money hungry company. With that, UoWRC has written to MRA and Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to looked into that matter and redress it. A total 471 claimants has to this date not signing the State Dec and have not yet receive any Compensation from the Mining Companies.
A team of MRA Officers haded by Mr John Mosoro will be headed to Watut River Communities next week to see that these matter is resolve as soon as possible to allow mining development in Hidden Valley to go ahead without any disturbance. The office of MRA in Wau has been task to facilitate the visit and UoWRC are gearing to face the Mining Regulators.