30 Jan 2008

Madang Governor in PNG confirms Ramu MOA to be reviewed

9:23 pm on 30 January 2008

The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Madang province says Ramu nickel project's Memorandum of Agreement is scheduled to be reviewed in March.

Sir Arnold Amet says the review should cover most issues currently being aired by landowners who have demanded the Ramu operations stop until their range of grievances are addressed.

The firm running the Ramu project, the Chinese state-owned Metallurgical Construction Company, held crisis talks on Tuesday with local chiefs in Madang town over the demand.

Landowners have presented 18 points, including their lack of participation in spin-off business, the employment of heavily armed Chinese security guards, discrimination at the work site and language barriers.

Sir Arnold says he has already paid a visit this year to the Ramu site where last year the MCC came under pressure by Port Moresbyto improve working conditions described as abysmal and inhumane.

He indicated conditions have improved and that the Chinese are keeping him informed of progress.

"I am in receipt of the company's up-to-date position paper for the review. I have just concluded reading it and they describe a whole lot of developments and it remains for us to verify how far they have got."

Sir Arnold says he intends facilitating ongoing dialogue on the issues around the Ramu project.

We've had dialogue with the Chinese company officials and the landowner company officials and my understanding is that some progress has been made. We are awaiting a review and update on the status of employees and the issues raised previously.

The Governor of Madang, Sir Arnold Amet.