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PNG Biomass project update for Markham Valley, Huon Districts and Morobe Provincial authorities

PNG Biomass Project Director, Michael Henson, presenting a project update to District and Provincial Administration.

In mid-November 2018, the Huon Gulf District Administration’s Acting CEO, Moses Wanga, and staff visited PNG Biomass for an update on our renewable energy biomass project. The PNG Biomass stakeholder engagement team welcomed the Huon Gulf delegation and shared with them the latest news, updates and progress made over the course of 2018.

After the biomass project update and screening of our ‘Local Voices’ video, the Acting CEO of the Huon Gulf District Administration proposed to schedule a follow-up consultative meeting to also involve the Provincial Administration and the Markham District Development Administration.

A subsequent consultative meeting took place on 28 November 2018 at the Lae International Hotel. The meeting was well attended with over 20 participants, including landowners from the PNG Biomass impacted areas in the Wampar and Umi/Atzera LLGs, Huon Gulf Administration, Morobe Provincial Administration, Huon Gulf Electoral Office, and PNG Biomass staff.

Landowners, local authorities, and PNG Biomass staff attending a PNG Biomass project update meeting.
Landowners, local authorities, and PNG Biomass staff attending a PNG Biomass project update meeting.

The PNG Biomass Project Director presented to the participants an overview of the project with a focus on the benefits the project is already generating for landowners and communities.

  • Landowner benefits include land rental, crop share, carbon credits and there is a wide range of community benefits across zoned land-use agroforestry (intercropping), training and skills development, business opportunities, employment, community programs, capacity building, and women’s empowerment.
  • Project employment will be 500 on-going local jobs for PNG citizens for 25 years and some 400 construction local construction jobs for PNG citizens to build power plant. It is estimated that the Project will create an additional 2,500 indirect national/regional jobs over the 25-year project life. Today, the PNG Biomass is already employing 32 local employees and 69 local contractors from the Zif Faring Business Group. This means there are approximately 250-300 FTE (monthly mean) currently employed in the Markham Valley.
  • Intercropping is already proving to be a lucrative business for landowners and communities. Almost all families participating in the project are also involved in planting cash crops on the PNG Biomass plantations in between the rows of trees. With two harvests a year, together these families are boosting the household income in our Project area by PGK 2 million a year.
  • PNG Biomass is also serious about supporting education, students and youth. UniTech graduates are currently making up a significant part of the employees of Markham Valley Biomass. PNG Biomass has recently supported two Mechanical Engineering students in their final year project and is exploring opportunities to develop an UniTech plantation forestry course in collaboration with University of Washington, USA.
  • Road construction and maintenance is a crucial part of the Project. Over 50 km of news roads have already been constructed, mostly inside plantations but also access roads. Exiting public roads of over 40 km have been upgraded and are receiving regular maintence from PNG Biomass.
  • The 25-year benefits of the PNG Biomass project, including household income, landowner benefits, employment, intercropping, education and student support, road development, training, and sponsorships is estimated at over PGK 1.5 billion.

The Deputy Provincial Administrator, Masayan Moat, expressed in response to the presentation his appreciation for the detailed information that was presented by PNG Biomass. He said there is clearly so much that PNG Biomass is already doing for our people and this consultative meeting is a great opportunity to share this information with the local authorities. While there may have been updates on the Project’s progress in the past, the Administration only now fully understands the extent of what PNG Biomass is doing and benefits it’s creating for the people in the Markham Valley and Morobe province.

Deputy Provincial Administrator, Masayan Moat, at the PNG Biomass project update meeting.
Deputy Provincial Administrator, Masayan Moat, at the PNG Biomass project update meeting.

The Huon Gulf CEO said there was so much that PNG Biomass has done in the Wampar and Umi/Atzera areas, and importantly the landowners are really benefiting. He said it was good that PNG Biomass provided this detailed level of information to the Huon Gulf District Administration because this is a key Project that has not been captured in the past by the District’s Five Year Development Plan. With the Morobe Provincial Government putting together a provincial plan, the Huon Gulf Administration will now be able to capture what has been presented by PNG Biomass in the district development plan.

The District and Provincial Administrations expressed their appreciation for the extensive update and proposed to meet periodically in a similar forum to hear from PNG Biomass on the Project progress and assists where possible.

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