Exploration activity in Morobe – Wafi-Golpu and beyond
While the Hidden Valley mine has impacted on the environment and communities there is also a genuine concern, if not fear, about further impacts from the mining. During the field visit for this project, MPI discovered that few people along the river had heard, let alone been consulted about the potential for further mining development in the region or Province. This is despite the raw prospectivity of the Province and the potential for mining to impact not just on communities where the mining occurs but on the Province as a whole as shown in Fig 16 and Table 11.
According to MMJV’s own presentation at the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Conference of 2013, the Morobe Province is highly prospective with a concentration of activity within 30km of Wafi and further exploration licenses along the Watut and Markam River regions. As well as the extent of potential mining activity there is also the issue of scale with Newcrest listing Wafi-Golpu as one of their ‘big three’ along with Lihir in PNG and Cadia Valley in Australia, at their AGM in September 2013.
To date, while there are extensive seabed exploration licenses in nearby West and East New Britain, New Ireland, Manus, Medang and Milne Bar Provinces, only one has been registered in the Morobe Province. There are, however, a number of predominantly terrestrial licenses that extend into the sea along the coast. While the seabed mining industry has yet to develop, an extension of exploration interest into Morobe waters could place additional development pressure on the Province.