By Papua New Guinea Mine Watch
Three leaders from the Union of Watut River Communities have been arrested in Bulolo this morning and charged with criminal damage, apparently in relation to an attack on a Hidden Valley mine vehicle.
The Union of Watut River Communities is leading a campaign against the Hidden Valley mine over its pollution of the Watut river with acid forming rocks which has disrupted the lives of thousands of people who rely on the river for food, transport and cash incomes.
The alleged damage to the mine vehicle occurred when mine employees, accompanied by local police who were acting as security guards, illegally entered community land to collect river water samples two weeks ago. In contrast, the mine owners has refused permission for scientists engaged by local people to enter the mine site to collect water samples for independent testing.
Two other Watut Union leaders, Reuben Mete and Phillip Yalamo, were released from prison this week after spending the long-weekend in jail for the non payment of fines relating to the damage of another Hidden Valley mine vehicle last year.
The Hidden Valley mine is jointly owned and operated by Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold.