Oppose Mining in Historic Papua New Guinea Caves

Target: Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill

Goal: Stop attempts by large company to obtain permits to explore and mine ancient caves

The Karawari Caves of Papua New Guinea consist of an extensive network of caverns that contain ancient cave art done by the Meakambut people, who still live in the area. This group of nomadic hunter-gatherers is believed to be some of the last to still exist in Papua New Guinea. The images that can be found throughout the Karawari caves, though not officially dated, are similar to drawings found in other areas of the world including Borneo and Western Australia that date back tens of thousands of years. They provide not only artistic and cultural significance, but historical importance as well, as these cave drawings can provide clues to ancient cultures’ ways of life. Now, a local company called Pristine Number 18 has made attempts to apply for a permit to begin exploration of the area. The intent of Pristine Number 18 is to search for precious minerals, including gold, and ultimately, to mine the caves if such metals are found. This would result in the destruction of the Karawari caves, and the historic art within.

According to Nancy Sullivan, an anthropologist and founding member of the group Nancy Sullivan and Associates, the preservation and study of these cave drawings is of utmost importance. Their group of Papua New Guinea ethnographers has been present in the area for seven years, living amongst the Meakambut and studying the ancient caves. According to Sullivan, the organization has set up schools and health services in the area, and has provided funding for further infrastructure in exchange for the opportunity to preserve and study the ancient drawings in the caves.

Not only does Pristine Number 18’s attempts to explore and eventually cause destruction in the area threaten the historic caves, but it also endangers the Meakambut’s society, and the potential for more income from scientists and researchers in the future. These caves provide a glimpse into the history of the Meakambut, as well as the possibility for a prosperous future. Demand that the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea reject Pristine Number 18’s application to explore, and ultimately destroy, these precious caves in their voracious attempts to mine for gold.


Dear Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill,

The Karawari caves provide an important glimpse into the history of the Meakambut’s culture through drawings that can be found throughout the cavernous system. These drawings are not only intrinsically valuable, but provide historical significance as well, in that they provide a means to understanding the history of the Meakambut. Furthermore, the income and valuable resources provided by scientists who wish to study the caves, such as schools and health resources, have contributed to a better quality of life for the Meakambut.

Efforts by the company Pristine Number 18 threaten these caves. Mining of the caves would likely result in the utter destruction of potentially tens of thousands of years old drawings and stencils, erasing a long-standing history. Therefore, I urge you to not approve Pristine Number 18’s application to explore and mine the area, and thereby protect these precious caves and the drawings within.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Raveesh Vyas via Wikimedia

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One Comment

  1. Nancy Sullivan says:

    Nicole—Thanks for putting this petition up but Im mystifiedwhy you didn’t either contact me first, or just use our own petition. We are trying to collect a great number of signatures from different countries to present to the PM< and it might be better just to combine the two petitions under ours.

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