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Woodlark Gold Mine, PNG


The Woodlark Island Goldmine Project mine will be an open cut mine in the centre of Woodlark Island. The island, also known as Muyua Island is isolated and has a mainly subsistence population of 6000 people. The indigenous inhabitants have been fighting for decades for legal control of their land. While most of the forests on mainland Papua New Guinea are customary—i.e. owned by local communities—Woodlark Island remains largely crown land and therefore in the hands of the state.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Woodlark Gold Mine, PNG
Country:Papua New Guinea
State or province:Milne Bay Province
Location of conflict:Kulumadau
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details

An estimated 11 Mt of ore will be mined by using open cut mining with four pits. Overall total production is estimated to be over 800,000 oz of gold at an average rate of 90,000 oz per year. The mine is expected to produce 12.6 Mt of tailings and Kula Gold’s preference is to pipe these overland and discharge them into Wamunon Bay in the Pacific Ocean some 10 km to the north east of the mine site. In PNG, marine mine waste disposal (MMWD) is also carried out at the Simberi, Lihir and Ramu mines and was carried out at the now closed Misima mine. The disposal of mine waste at sea has proven to be very controversial in PNG and was the subject of a series of court cases involving the Ramu Nickel mine and Basumuk Bay refinery. Extensive new infrastructure is required including roads, camps, power generation and transmission facilities, wharves and warehousing. The mine will be served by an existing airstrip at Guasopa (the principal airstrip for the island) 30 km to the south-east. This will be upgraded for the project and will require construction of new roads to access it. Quarries will be needed to supply building materials and will be constructed adjacent to infrastructure where possible.

Project area:6,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project160,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:300-3000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1988
Company names or state enterprises:Kula Gold Limited (KGD) from Australia - Project Owners
Relevant government actors:Papau New Guinea National Government
Papua New Guinea Mineral Resources Authority
Papua New Gunea Department of Environment and Conservation
Milne Bay Provincial Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:PNG Mine Watch
Alotau Environment Group
Mineral Policy Institute Australia
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:The Environmental permit was granted in Feb. 2014 and the project is still in development with mining not yet started as of May 2015
Proposal and development of alternatives:Similar to other mines in Papua New Guinea the Woodlark project is expected to deliver poor social outcomes for local communities and a legacy of terrestrial and marine destruction.
The project should be not proceed as currently designed. It needs to be assessed against other more appropriate development options and should redesigned to limit social and environmental impacts and reassessed with proper consultation on Woodlark Island throughout the Milne Bay Province and with external stakeholders.
The disposal of mine waste into the ocean should be rejected by PNG and the host countries of mining and/or finance companies.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project has been approved but is unfunded, so remains a threat to Woodlark island and Milne Bay Province.
Sources & Materials

MPI - A New mine for Woodlark island
[click to view]

Alotau Environment Group
[click to view]

Other documents

ALOTAU ENVIRONMENT - Mining in Milne Bay
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Charles Roche, Mineral Policy Institute, Australia. [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1887
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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