Papua New Guinea's former Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan has dismissed mining industry concerns that a change from state to private ownership of resources will be disastrous for development in the country.
Sir Julius, the Governor of New Ireland, is supporting proposed legislation amending the Mining Act 1992 under which the government owns all resources six feet below the surface.
The Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says the proposed changes mean developers have no guarantee over security of tenure, creating an instability which will scare off investors.
But Sir Julius says mining companies stand to experience more instability in years to come when more PNG landowners realise they've been robbed by the state, opening up a legal minefield.
"I think the industry is very narrow-minded. For them to think we Papua New Guineans cannot handle ownership of these resources is plain stupidity. Look, I think they're very childish and if they continue to treat Papua New Guineans like this, then they're going the wrong way."
Sir Julius Chan