INDOCHINE Mining has ticked off an important milestone in the development of its Mt Kare project with the completion of the landowner investigation study (LIS).

The final stage of the LIS involved the marking of land boundaries by the identified primary landowners, validated by government officials and witnessed by relevant clans that have a beneficial interest in the land boundaries via kinship, blood ties or through user rights.

According to Indochine, this would secure legal rightful entitlements for genuine traditional landowners as the LIS is included in the final submission of the Landowner Investigation Report (LIR).

Indochine PNG country manager and project director George Niumataiwalu said the company would now be able to deal with the rightful customary landowners of Mt Kare project area to agree how best to share in the benefits of its development.

The finalisation of the LIS is a result of the steady evolution of extensive cooperation and participation received from local landowners in the region and by partnering with skilled sociologists and key government officials.

Indochine said the collaborative partnership was attributed to the unique ‘Melanesian Approach’ which uses the ‘malu’, the clan’s oral history developed over 15 generations, together with an assessment of genealogy, kinship, bloodlines, land use and customary criteria. The claim boundaries are walked by the ‘malu’ walkers, together with government officials, and other witnessing clans, involving over 400 participants on site after more than two years of preparation. The community affairs team identified the legitimate landowning clans more than a year ago and since then has substantiated their claims, finalised by formally surveying the claimed boundaries and resolving any disputes on site during this process.

Indochine chief executive Stephen Promnitz said the completion of the LIS marked a major milestone for the local people, relevant government officials and shareholders, hailing it as one of the company’s most significant achievements to date.

“The company has invested heavily into establishing a robust process aimed at generating long term sustainable outcomes and benefits for the rightful landowners and relevant stakeholders of Indochine,” he said.

Indochine said it would now aim to increase the development work targeting the high grade zoned at the Mt Kare project following the LIS.

Initial horizontal geotechnical and hydrological drilling was completed on the adit portal in December, with drill holes reinforced and grouted for roof support within the initial 25 metres of oxidised rock.

Further development of both the portal and adit are planned in the current quarter, with first gold targeted by 2015.