11 Mar 2008

Papua New Guinean landowners lift block at Kokoda Track

11:47 am on 11 March 2008

Papua New Guinean landowners have lifted a blockade of the historic Kokoda Track and are seeking compensation amid signs a controversial mining project will be canned.

Koiari landowners say they'd been told the PNG government would not renew an exploration licence for Australian company Frontier Resources, which wants to mine gold and copper.

The project would have earned the landowners millions of dollars over 10 years, but it has been opposed by Australia, amid fears mining activity would damage 600 metres of the historic World War II track.

Landowners staged a blockade of the track earlier this year, in an attempt to pressure the government to renew Frontier's licence.

During a trip recently to PNG, Australia's Prime Minister said a compromise that would satisfy all parties should be finalised at ministerial meetings next month in Madang.

Now, landowners say the compensation package they are seeking would be focused on improving infrastructure, and be jointly funded by the PNG and Australian governments,

Local leader, Bagua Watti, says PNG's mining minister told them that they will forego mining and will look at their compensation package to decide.