Red Water: Mining and the Right to Water in Porgera, Papua New Guinea
“People say it is a world-class mine, but the environment tells a different story.”
– Resident of Yarik Village, near gold mine in Porgera, January 5, 2015
The Pacific island of Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most resource-rich countries. However, the country’s dependence on extractive industries for economic growth has historically been a source of grievance and conflict for communities living near mine sites. The Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine, located in the country’s highlands, has led to significant environmental and social impacts, contributing to community concerns about access to clean water.
This interdisciplinary study of the human right to water in the villages near the PJV gold mine finds that local residents do not have consistent access to sufficient, acceptable, and safe water, or adequate information about their water resources. It concludes that the PNG government and the mining companies Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining, as well as their jointly controlled operator of the mine, Barrick (Niugini) Limited (BNL), can do more to meet their human rights obligations and responsibilities.
The report is the product of a four-year interdisciplinary and mixed-methods investigation of the right to water and interrelated rights in the residential areas adjacent to the PJV gold mine. It was carried out by experts in land use, hydrology, geochemistry, environmental conflict, and human rights, following multiple site visits, water and soil sampling and analysis, household and focus group interviews, interviews with civil society leaders and government officials, and review of company and government documents.
To find out more about this project and associated work investigating the environmental conditions and sexual assaults by security forces near the mine, please visit the links below or sign up to receive updates on the project.
“Uncovering Impacts of Gold Mining in Papua New Guinea” by Joshua Fisher. February 5, 2016. https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2016/02/05/uncovering-impacts-of-gold-mining-in-papua-new-guinea/
2015 United Nations Development Programme Report: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2014_png_national_human_development_report.pdf