By Liam Fox on Pacific Beat
ABC Radio National
In Papua New Guinea a campaign to stop a proposed gold and copper mine has been boosted with support from chiefs of the famous Haus Tambarans, or spirit houses, of the Sepik River.
The Chinese-owned, Australian-based company PanAust wants to build the mine on the Frieda River, a tributary of the Sepik River, and is seeking approvals from the PNG government.
But chiefs from 28 Haus Tambarans representing 78,000 people have signed a declaration calling for a total ban of the mine.
The group Project Sepik organised the declaration and coordinator Emmanuel Peni says it’s the first time communities along the river have united in a common cause.
“They should say whether it’s yes or no and in the declaration they’ve said it’s a complete ban on the mine,” Mr Peni said.
He said there is a risk of conflict if PanAust and the PNG government disregard the views of the people who live along the Sepik River.
“If they don’t listen there will be an uprising and … blood will be on their hands”.
PanAust is yet to respond to the declaration.