Skulls, skeletal remains and bits of old pottery, have been uncovered on a beach at the edge of the Fisherman Island in the last two weeks following the visit of a king tide.
Fisherman Island is located to the southwest of Port Moresby and is inhabited by six clan groups who originate from Hula in Central Province.
The Museum received report of this ‘chance exposure’ from Joel Keimolo, an inhabitant of the Island and works for the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority.
So we made arrangements with UPNG archaeologists, notably Mathew Leavesley and Vincent Kewibu, the anthropologist Linus Digim’Rina and the historian Keimelo Gima so we made a short reconnaissance trip to the Fisherman Island last Friday.
The trip included three of us from the Museum including our archeologist, Kenneth Miamba, and two young female archeologists from UPNG, Joel Keimelo and an intern from UPNG attached to Tourism PromotionAuthority.
Some village leaders took us to the site where the skulls have been exposed under a reef on the eastern beach side.
From observation our archaeologists were able to tell the age distribution of the skeletal remains by looking at the jaw bones and teeth structures. So we are left with the remains of very old and very young people which are kept in this site.
We don’t know if its a burial site or just a convenient place to keep the skulls and skeletal remains. We don’t know too if it is part of a ritual or the remains of war or headhunting in the past.
What we can tell is that Fisherman Island is an important transit point that connects the east to the west and north to the south. It is where people and things find a temporary sojourn before the next move. It is an important node in the traffic of the Hiri trade for instance.
So the details and provenance of the skulls and skeletal remains are not immediately known. A bit of oral history might help and archaeological investigations will tell us a bit more about the history of these remains.
We are working to layout a research and management plan of these discovery and to work with the Fisherman Island to look after these finds in the future to come.
One of Papua New Guinea’s biggest Gold and Copper Mine Ok Tedi will be shutting down operations in 2025. Western Province Governor Taboi Awi Yoto made a call that I believe is also the call of the people of Western Province to the Prime Minister to return the mine to the people. The Governor asked the National Government to give the 66 percent of shares to the people of Western who have missed out on their resources.
Prime Minister James Marape agreed that the mine has no permanent legacies in the Province in terms of infrastructure and human development but said that the revenue generated from the resources must be shared equitably as stated in the Constitution.
I have to agree with the Governor and call on the National Government to hand over the 66 percent or at least some of it so they can develop themselves and prepare for the closing of one of PNG’s biggest mines.
The only permanent legacies of the mine in Western Province is the environmental destruction that killed the Fly River and is affecting the people.
The people of Western must now rise up and demand their fair share from the exploitation of their resources. They must also demand compensation from the lasting environmental destructions.
PNG Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke in a recent meeting with the European Union Ambassador to PNG His Excellency Jernej Videtic on Sustainable Mining highlighted that the PNG Government is mindful and aware of the impact mines have on the environment and people’s livelihood and is addressing these issues by updating the regulatory framework and by demanding from investors to introduce new modern and sustainable technologies to diminish the negative impact of mining on the environment.
This is total bullshit coming from the Minister. The government has made no effort to update the regulatory frameworks to regulate current and potential mining companies operating and wanting to operate in PNG. The Government has not made any demands to the to the mining companies to introduce new modern and sustainable technologies to diminish the negative impact of mining on the environment.
The extractive industry has been detrimental to the environment and the people of Papua New Guinea. Large scale extractive activities like mining and logging have resulted in the loss of biodiversity and loss of life.
Waste disposal from process plants and sediment runoffs from open cut mines are dumped into rivers and oceans. Smothering of riverbeds and oceans, heavy metal contamination and acid mine drainage are consequences of mine waste disposal into the environment. (McKinnon, 2002)
PNG is currently using mining waste disposal methods that have been outlawed in other parts of the world because they are destructive to the environment and the people. PNG embraces the waste disposal methods like Riverine and deep sea tailings that dump waste into rivers and oceans have been detrimental to the environment and the peoples livelihood.
The Fly River is DEAD because of Riverine Tailings. The Basamuk Bay was polluted because of Deep sea tailings placement. Recently the people along the Fly River made a call to the Government to help them because the only source of their survival is dead. There was also a pipeline failure at Simberi, in New Ireland province recently, a mine which uses Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP).
Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) has been in use since the 1970s but is currently banned in many countries due to its controversial nature. It is now only in operation in a few countries, including PNG. The many risks posed by DSTP include smothering of the seabed, chemical re- actions that release toxic metals into the ocean ecosystem, tailings upwelling and contaminating inshore marine environments that locals rely on for subsistence and livelihoods.
Nautilus recently pulled out in their venture to mine the depths of the sea in New Ireland in the controversial sea bed mining, thanks to the fierce resistance and people like Jonathan Mesulam , Oigen Wandalu Schulze and Nat Lowrey among others.
PNG Government and Mayur Resources are also pushing for Coal Mining in PNG, an extractive industry that is out of date and should not be even. All the while, the government keeps talking about so-called responsible and sustainable mining. There is no such thing as a responsible and mining mining.
New mines that the government is planning to open will use the environmentally destructive methods like DSTP and Riverine Tailings or Dam Tailings.
These new mines include Wafi-Golpu, Woodlark and Frieda Mine.
The Wafi-Golpu Mine waste will be dumped into the Huon Gulf while Frieda Mine will see the company storing waste at the head of the Sepik river in a dam, which according to experts will collapse and destroy the Sepik river.
The Save the Sepik campaign in East Sepik is fighting to protect the Sepik river. People in Morobe are also against the DSTP.
The European Union is also pushing their ‘Green Deal‘, also known as ‘The Green Mining Concept’. We must not be blinded by greenwashing and allow this environmental terrorists to plunder our resources and environment.
The Government and companies people do not care about the environment or the people that will be affected. We have seen and witnessed many environmental destructions.