John Ipidari, Manager - Project Coordination Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), Papua New Guinea (PNG), shares how he is applying the lessons learnt following his successful completion of the Graduate Certificate in Responsible Resources Development [GCRRD] (Community Relations) 2016 at the University of Queensland.
John has over 16 years’ experience working in the petroleum and mining industry. He has been with MRA for nine years, first as Small Scale Business Development Officer and later promoted to Project Coordinator for Porgera Gold Mine and Mt Kare Advance Exploration Mine. He is currently Manager Project Coordination. In his role, he supervises eight Project Coordinators for PNG’s eight operating mines. He provides advice, facilitates and implements project development agreements and promotes harmonious, equitable and sustainable relationships between the state and other stakeholders of mining projects.
In addition to his Graduate Certificate, he holds a Bachelor of Business in Human Resource Management (HRM) and a Diploma of Business Studies in Accounting.
“The combination of these qualifications in human resource management (HRM), accounting and community relations help me work well with all stakeholder of a project, especially engaging with project area landowners as my field in HRM is to do with getting things done throughpeople.”
John is landowner himself from the PNG Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project area and he is the Supreme Chairman for Angore Petroleum Development License (PDL) 08 project area.
The Graduate Certificate in Responsible Resources Development (GCRRD) Community Relations “equips students with knowledge, skills and attitudes that help them to understand, engage with, and contribute to the development of communities that are impacted by resource extraction and related activities.”
John shares how he is applying the lessons learnt from the GCRRD.
“As to applying the skills and knowledge from the GCRRD to effect change in PNG, we were already doing some or many of the things but we did not do them orderly. We did not understand why we had social license problems or project issues in all project areas and how an actor or a stakeholder was responding to these issues to ensure project beneficiary groups benefited equitably and the project operated smoothly for the benefit of all stakeholders.
The knowledge and skills learnt were helpful in that I am in a position to look back on how things were done and see why different actors reacted in the way they did. I am also able to rearrange the way things are done so that everyone is now complying firstly to the law of this country and secondly ensuring all commitments in formal agreements like the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between parties are honoured. Where necessary changes in the agreement are made through MOA reviews and revised negotiated agreements are implemented for the benefit of beneficiary groups within each project area.
It is a very challenging job that requires building trust and confidence with stakeholders as well as consistently communicating and working with stakeholders tactfully with caution and openly.
The GCRRD program overall helped me to see why the industry actors behave in the way they do, the approaches, models and relevant frameworks applied to deal with project issues whilst adhering to legal license compliance requirements and relevant laws in dealing with social license issues.
One thing I concluded was that policies and laws are made to mitigate and manage issues but they are all top down approaches and models which to some extent are imposed on a project area community. Companies use model and relevant frameworks for their benefit but they are reactive and top down approaches. To address this, I have developed a model which is bottom up and proactive. The model is called Tambiabu Model (TM) and it has a number of frameworks which I am working on. Some of the frameworks are gradually being introduced in all mining projects to ensure there is equitable benefit sharing among the beneficiary groups in a project area. The model and its frameworks are intended to promote proper monitoring, reporting, accountability and transparency among the key players of a project (government, project developer and host community).
My background in Business (Accounting/HRM) and the GCRRD has assisted me in merging ideas and concepts to improve performance, enhance and improve project area community benefits and increase government revenue for more sustainable development in the country whist enhancing smooth operation of projects for the benefit of all stakeholders.
In the photo, John (left) is with Justice Ambeng Kandakasi and Acting Chief Magistrate Mark Marai Pupaka at Mt Kare conducting National Court sanctioned Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mediation due to Landowner disputes. August 2015.