A PNG governor says his province will lodge a legal challenge if a proposal for the country’s largest mine on the Frieda River gets the green light in its current form.

Ten UN special rapporteurs have written to the governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia, China and Canada raising concerns about the proposed copper and gold mine, which is being planned by the Australian-based, Chinese-owned, company PanAust.

The Governor of East Sepik Province, Allan Bird, told ABC’s PNG Correspondent Natalie Whiting that he was disappointed the UN delegates did not also contact his provincial government.

Mr Bird said the provincial government would pursue legal action if the mine does get approval in its current form.

“So, if they decide to go ahead with Frida as it is, without taking into consideration our very serious and justifiable concerns… than obviously we would go to court to enforce a unanimous decision made by the assembly,” he said.

Mr Bird said a team of experts hired by the province had raised concerns about the storage facility for tailings from the mine.

The ABC has contacted PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority and PanAust, the proponent of the mine, for a response.

PNG’s Environment Minister Wera Mori has previously said the national government was well aware of the concerns raised and was confident it could be dealt with internally.

In its Environmental Impact Statement PanAust said the project would include a hydroelectric power plant and presents “broad commercial and socioeconomic development opportunities” for Papua New Guinea.



The Sepik region is one of the most culturally and biodiverse areas on the planet


Frieda River mine project one of the largest known copper and gold deposits in the world


Nominating the Sepik regions rich cultural heritage for World Heritage listing


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