He said this in support of Morobe Governor, Ginson Saonu.
O’Neill said alluvial mining should be reserved for locals only.
Governor Saonu informed O’Neill that he had with him a letter from the Morobe Gold Field Small Scale Mining Association, on behalf of tenement landowner miners and interested miners in Wau Bulolo Region.
They called for the rejection of an exploration license application made by Wabua Mining Limited and Harmony Gold Exploration Gold Limited in the Wau-Bulolo Valley.
“My Government is in support of that letter and we do not want these mining companies or foreigners to mine or explore alluvial mining in that area of Wau Bulolo plains.
“Alluvial deposit in Wau Bulolo Valley generally is considered suitable for small scale alluvial miners who depend entirely on it for their livelihood,” said Governor Saonu.
“Alluvia mining is the only source of income for most locals in Bulolo district and those mining along creeks and riverbeds
“Small scale will be here after large scale operations cease,” he said.
Governor Saonu then asked the Prime Minister to intervene.
“Can you stop or not endorse the application by Wabu Alluvial Mining Limited and Harmony Gold Limited?
“These big companies would be exploring mountains and forests where there is no human activity. Instead of coming to rivers where people are already existing and making their living off.”
The Prime Minister said he was not privy to the letter but will instruct the mining department to look into and respond to the Governor.
“Generally I support the call by the Governor and our people concerning alluvial mining. It should be reserved for our people and not large international companies to come in and engage in alluvial mining in our country.
“Noting from what he has stated, Harmony and other companies have applied for an exploration licence which is quite different from alluvial mining. But in any case I will certainly get the department to respond to him.
“But I support his call that any of the big companies must not engage in alluvial mining in our country.”