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Prime Minister’s award rewards student’s industry savvy

Media release

Curtin Graduate School of Business, Master of Science student, Andrew Gunua, has won the prestigious Prime Minister’s Pacific Australia (PMPA) Award, for commitment to improving mining practices in his home country, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Provided by AusAID under the Australia Awards initiative, the inaugural PMPA Awards target leaders and future leaders in the Pacific, offering practical Australian-based organisation work placements to recipients of development scholarships.

Award recipients are given the opportunity to build on their postgraduate academic experience and participate in a leadership workshop before returning home to apply their new skills and knowledge for the benefit of their country.

Mr Gunua said his passion and commitment to understanding socioeconomic and environmental issues associated with mining activities in PNG, combined with academic merit, won him the highly competitive prize.

“My academic study is in mineral and energy economics, a unique program offered at Curtin’s Graduate School of Business,” Mr Gunua said.

“I submitted a summary of my unpublished thesis on the current issues related to mine waste tailings disposal in river and seas in Papua New Guinea.

“I demonstrated how I would be able to assist, develop and implement short, medium and long-term goals and objectives of sustainability and growth in mineral sectors in my country.”

Mr Gunua said there was no current PNG legislation specific to riverine tailings disposal or deep sea tailings disposal of mine waste.

“PNG has been practicing the dumping of mine waste tailings into rivers and seas since 1970s. This is the main cause of environmental and social issues in the country,” he said.

“This not only affects people living within the surrounding areas of mining activity but those people living remotely, which causes a ‘negative externality’.

“A negative externality exists when activity of one party, in this case mining activity, causes another party not part of the mining activity a loss of welfare.”

With 65 percent of PNG’s population living rurally, Mr Gunua said his priority was to work towards minimising negative externalities and ensuring the quality of life for people in his home country was improved by the economic flourish of industry.

“As long term sustainability associated with mining activities is becoming a central issue in PNG, mining companies adopting a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) are vital for stakeholders, as TBL reporting discloses economics, environmental practice and social responsibility for the community or public,” he said.

“PNG is faced with both environmental and social issues due to limited or no adaptation of TBL by mining companies.”

Mr Gunua said he would use the award opportunity to continue his work targeting main weaknesses in PNG’s mining legislation and to propose alternatives to best suit the expectation in mining development.


Associate Professor Dan Packey
Head of Department, Mineral and Energy Economics, Curtin University
Director, Master of Mineral and Energy Economics program
Tel: 08 9266 9586; Email:

Sarah Treadgold
Sponsored Student Officer, International Student Support Unit, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4691; Email:

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4241, Mobile: 0401 103 755, Email: