A sustainable future? Island life after the gold mine
Living in the shadow of a gold mine …
The Lihir Islands, Papua New Guinea, 27 September 12
Lihir Island is the largest island in the Lihir group of islands, 22 km long and 14.5 km wide, in Papua New Guinea's New Ireland Province. The Island is located 900 km NE of the capital Port Moresby. It consists of a complex of several overlapping basaltic stratovolcanoes rising 700m above sea level. While the volcanoes are not currently active, geothermal activity is still present.
In 2007, the population of the Lihir Islands was estimated at 18,000. Local people are of Melanesian descent and they live a subsistence lifestyle. Lihirians still follow traditional belief systems, although official census records indicate that more than 90% of the local population are Christians.
The economic focal point of the Island is the Lihir Gold Mine. The mine is operated by Newcrest Mining Limited. The mine holds one of the world's largest gold resources (estimated to be 40 million ounces).
(Above right) Lihirian boys prepare to perform traditional dances.
Preparing for life after the mine:
Personal Viability with GULL
The mine is located on a geothermically active area and to enable the mine to proceed, holes have been drilled into the ground to release subterranean pressure. These gases have been, in part, captured and are used to operate a 56MW geothermal power station which generates 75% of the mine's power requirements. Mine tailings are discharged into the sea.
The largest settlement on the Island is Londolovit, where most of the expatriate mine employees live. Land ownership is based on a traditional pattern with land being owned by clans. Insofar as it relates to land ownership, the society is matriarchal with land being passed though the female generations.
(Above) Lihirians have adopted the ‘Personal Viability’ (PV) system with GULL so that they can prepare for life after the mine closes. PV is a highly effective development process that enables participants to work towards self-reliance and financial independence.
Launch of a nationwide savings and loans scheme for PV
Londolovit, Lihir Islands, 28 September 12
To ensure that a higher proportion of Papua New Guineans are able to benefit from self-directed economic development, Samuel Tam, Founder of the PV system, has established an innovative savings and loans scheme. This was launched at the 3rd annual PV-GULL graduation by Sir Paulias Matane, 8th Governor General of Papua New Guinea.
The scheme will provide the finance needed to support the creation of new PV-related micro and small enterprises throughout the country in both urban and rural areas.
(Above left) Samuel Tam, Founder of PV, receives the backing of the Lihirian leaders who will invest in the new savings and loans scheme so that many more communities can participate in PV.
(Above right) Sir Paulias Matane, 8th Governor General of Papua New Guinea congratulates Samuel Tam.
3rd annual PV-GULL graduation
Londolovit, 28 September 12
More than 120 Lihirians from subsistence communities were recognized at the 3rd annual PV-GULL graduation event. The PV-GULL pathway aims to enable participants to work towards self-reliance and financial independence and 27 participants have attained this outcome (PV-GULL level 3) during the past year.
They have established their own micro enterprises, met their family’s financial needs and secured the required annual trading surplus.
(Above left) PV-GULL participants – the Level 3 recipients are wearing yellow shirts.
(Above right) Time to celebrate with locally grown food and traditional singing and dancing.
2-4 October 12
GULL is collaborating with Griffith University, Queensland, Australia on the creation of an innovative, community-led lifelong learning initiative. The initiative will help participants to address the challenges in Logan, a suburb of Brisbane: “Logan has been referred to as the “ground zero” of Queensland’s child protection battle amid revelations violent kids are attracting police visits almost daily. The district was identified yesterday as having both the highest number of calls on child abuse and the highest number of kids in state care.”
Source: ‘Logan top of child safety list’ The Courier Mail, Brisbane, Australia, Thursday, October 4, 2012.
(Above left) Richard Teare (GULL) and Judith Kearney (Griffith University) with some of the leaders of Logan’s Samoan community.
(Above right) On 3rd October, Richard Teare delivered a seminar at Griffith University’s Multi-Faith Centre.
GULL is a non-profit public benefit corporation registered in California, USA. GULL’s mandate to confer professional awards is based on a statement of recognition offered in perpetuity and signed by the Head of State and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea on 10 April 2007. GULL is also endorsed by other Governments, Leaders and Institutions.