Over 18,000 villagers in Papua New Guinea's Oro Province have objected to an Australian mining company getting a two-year extension to their permit to explore for gold in their region.
The Post Courier reports an NGO, Partners with Melanesia, has written on the villagers behalf to the Mineral Resources Authority, asking it not to give Goldminex Ltd another two years to explore the Mangalas plateau.
It says the 360 thousand hectare area includes a prospective conservation area that is rich in biodiversity.
A spokesperson for the NGO, Kenn Mondiai, says his organisation has done conservation and rainforest protection work in Managalas for 30 years amid a call for it to be declared a conservation area.
The Oro governor, Gary Juffa, is backing the villagers' objection, saying resource project proponents continue to bypass them and provincial governments, resulting in investors pushing their interests.