Ginson Goheyu Saonu Ors. vs. Wera Mori, OS (JR) 35 of 2021 (Papua New Guinea)

The State approved an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Wafi-Golpu Gold/Copper Mine, and granted an environmental permit for the project. The Morobe Provincial Government, on its own behalf and on behalf of the people of Morobe, challenged the decision for being ultra vires, in violation of natural justice, biased, and unreasonable. Plaintiffs applied for a stay of the decision to grant the permit claiming a case of irreparable damages in the form of likely environmental damages unless the decisions were stayed. Disposing of the application, the Court found the plaintiffs meet the requirements for the stay. Plaintiff submitted that the environmental harm posed by the project is very serious, as it will greatly affect the marine life in Huon Gulf on which the people depend. There is also a serious threat of environmental damage to Lae City and five highland provinces, as well as the risk posed by the disposal of mine tailings. The court also noted the need to identify possible climate change impacts and how they will be managed or avoided. The court thus concluded that based on the arguable case and irreparable damages presented, the balance of convenience favored a grant of stay to avoid possible hardships, inconvenience or prejudice to all parties pending substantive review.