An Analysis of the Concept of ‘Sustainability’ in Mining Agreements in Papua New Guinea: The case of Hidden Valley/Hamata Mine

1 Jan 2009

This thesis examined the way in which notions of economic, social and environmental sustainability were addressed in mining agreements in Papua New Guinea (PNG), through a case study of the Hidden Valley/Hamata mine. The thesis offered a discussion of indigenous and western perspectives on economic, social and environmental perspectives and practices. It then developed a model of sustainable development drawn from the scholarly literature and applied it to the case study

The thesis explored the extent to which principles of sustainable development were incorporated into the mining agreement, as well as in negotiations  mongst key actors. The study analysed key documents relating to sustainable development in PNG, including relevant national legislation and the memorandum of agreement negotiated amongst the principal actors in the Hidden Valley/Hamata mine. In addition, interviews and focus groups with the main participants in the Hidden Valley/Hamata case were also analysed. The analysis revealed significant deficiencies in the understandings of issues around sustainable development among all actors, which affected the negotiations of the mining agreement. The dominant concern for all actors, reflected in the analysis of documents and interviews, was economic. Furthermore, indigenous perspectives on sustainability were not given a hearing in the negotiations.

The study demonstrated that the major power differences between government and the mining company, on the one hand, and the landowners, on the other hand, prevented meaningful participation of the affected villagers in the negotiation process. The contradictory role of the state as both the regulator of the mining company and its partner in the mining development, along with a lack of awareness about issues of sustainable development, adds to the difficulty of implementing the provisions of the Environment Act. The thesis concludes by developing an analytical framework for negotiating sustainable development in mining agreements through incorporating indigenous and western perspectives and practices of economic, social and environmental sustainability in development projects.

The significance of this research is that it addresses a gap in the literature on sustainable development with specific reference to mining in PNG. It offers
insights into the negotiation process of mining agreements and offers a framework for negotiating sustainable development in practice in the future.

http://ramumine.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/mtr-2009-sustainability-v-mining-agreements-v-hidden-valley.pdf