No transparency on Ramu mine dumping impacts

Department of Environment and MCC are happy to tell people the marine tailings dumping is having no adverse impacts – but they refuse to give local people a copy of their ‘independent study’. 

What are they trying to hide?

DEC officials explain DSTP finding to Basamuk villagers

Jack Lapauve Jr | EMTV

The Department of Environment and Conservation officials spent two days in villages adjacent to the Ramu NiCo Basamuk Refinery site to communicate the important findings of the deep sea tailings placement (DSTP).

The team, comprising Dr Lemas Pangum, Mining Advisor with DEC and Gabriel Luluaki, were accompanied by Ramu NiCo Health, Safety and Environment officers, as well as an observer team from the Madang provincial government.

The awareness at Mindre and Ganglau villages conforms to a National Court Order whereby the state and the developer (Ramu NiCo) would conduct awareness on the DSTP on quarterly bases to inform the villagers and stakeholders on the operation of the DSTP.

Two main agendas were discussed; namely findings of DEC investigations in June 2014 and key outcomes from an independent consultants study of the marine environment by Ian Hargreaves and associates of Australia.

Key findings from the independent audit of the marine environment carried out by Ian Hargreaves & Associates were also conveyed to the communities.

Ian Hargreaves and Associates is an independent consultant company from Australia, engaged by Ramu NiCo as required by the environment permit to undertake two-yearly audits of the marine environment.

He clarified to the villagers that the survey by the independent consultant concluded that no significant differences were found between results of the 2007 baseline survey and 2013 post-operational survey.

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Massive Protests in Porgera over violation to MOA agreement with landowners

porgera protest

Porgera Alliance

On October 28, 2014, hundreds of Porgerans marched onto Barrick Gold’s Porgera mine site to demand benefits that rightfully belong to the Porgera Special Mining Lease (SML) Landowners.

porgera protest 2On Oct 17, Barrick Gold was given a 48 hour ultimatum to respond to requests by landowners at their controversial Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea.

The first demand, that Barrick become Party to a revised Porgera Mine Memorandum of Agreement and make a date to commence MOA review, has been the landowners “number one ask from day one”, according to a letter dated October 17, 2014 from the landowners association to Barrick management.

For many years, the Porgera Landowners Association has been urging Barrick Gold for the resettlement of their people away from the Porgera mine site, through MOA reviews, and an international pressure and educational campaign including an OECD complaint and several appeals to the United Nations.

After the protest reached the Barrick mine, the company agreed to give an answer to the landowner’s demands by Nov. 10, 2014.

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Anthropology exposes how miners shape our world and our views of it

the gold mine dumps 58 million tonnes of tailings per year into the ocean. Meanwhile, during an annual company-led beach clean-up, mine workers talk about villagers’ environmentally problematic rubbish disposal and “overfishing” of onshore reefs. In this way, they justify company-led local development projects to lift people from their ecological harm-causing poverty

Mining has become an industrial actor central to many of the most compelling political and social debates of our time. AAP/Dan Peled

Mining has become an industrial actor central to many of the most compelling political and social debates of our time. AAP/Dan Peled

Sally Babidge* | The Conversation

Miners do much more than extract minerals and make profits. All over the world mining corporations are collaborating with governments, local populations and NGOs. Their logos, mottoes and CEOs seem to pervade the news media, including the social sections.

The Australian government recently repealed the mining tax. In September, the Queensland parliament passed the Mineral and Energy Resources Act, which has removed citizens’ rights to object to 90% of new mines. This is part of the mistaken move by late capitalism: allow mining companies to regulate themselves and at the same time play a powerful role at all levels of society.

Mining has become an industrial actor central to many of the most compelling socio-ecological debates of our time. These include the place of corporations in politics, environmental management and climate science, the ethics of resource use, and the global unevenness of development and social change.

A flurry of new books from social anthropologists examines mining corporations, mining impacts and mining conflicts. But what can anthropologists tell us about mining that we didn’t already know?

In part, anthropologists help to reveal how the “corporate effect” is produced: how an entity comes to be singularly powerful despite internal inconsistencies. This fracturing of power through description of its social process is admittedly sometimes slow to appear in print. But perhaps the most useful aspect of anthropological analysis to the broader public in the past 50 years, and particularly in the past ten, is the work examining corporations.

Mining corporations have a vast reach

Recent ethnographies, one by Marina Welker and the other by Stuart Kirsch, are different takes on how we might understand how mining corporations make our world and the problems with leaving them to it.

Social anthropologists are perhaps most known for their work among Indigenous Peoples in relation to mining conflicts. Many also work inside mining companies as staff in corporate social responsibility (CSR) sections, in mining NGOs and as independent academic researchers “studying up”.

Welker spent more than two years of observation inside the mining giant Newmont in its Denver offices and at a mine site in post-authoritarian Indonesia. She then wrote about how the corporation is much more than an entity enacting the desire for profit and driven by CEO psychopaths.

Welker is interested in showing how the corporation makes its boundaries, activates interests and creates its responsibilities. She internally differentiates the apparent Leviathan, showing how “moral self-narratives” help employees make sense of its impact.

For example, the gold mine dumps 58 million tonnes of tailings per year into the ocean. Meanwhile, during an annual company-led beach clean-up, mine workers talk about villagers’ environmentally problematic rubbish disposal and “overfishing” of onshore reefs. In this way, they justify company-led local development projects to lift people from their ecological harm-causing poverty.

This is not a simple smokescreen. Tales told internally about “doing good” allow the company to define itself as responsible through scientific and moral justification.

The Ok Tedi mine has caused significant environmental harm but is also a major source of PNG government revenue. AAP/Lloyd Jones

The Ok Tedi mine has caused significant environmental harm but is also a major source of PNG government revenue. AAP/Lloyd Jones

Kirsch’s long-term field research with peoples affected by mines in Papua New Guinea synonymous with disastrous environmental impact – Ok Tedi and Porgera – is a more traditional-style anthropological study. His ethnography gives credence to his criticism of these reputational campaigns.

The socially and environmentally “sustainable” mining industry is familiar to many of us and is publicly demonstrated through corporate audit. Using the word “sustainable” to describe an industry that is finite by definition is a corporate oxymoron. The effect is to co-opt the language of mining critics and render it meaningless.

An analysis of audit practices shows these to be more about measurement of self-defined performance indicators than effective regulation of an always potentially damaging industry. Audit, Kirsch writes, is a formalised loop “by which the system observes itself”.

The loop is also evident through Welker’s insider access. Her research exposes the regulatory ineffectiveness of having the industry set its own gauges and engage consultants to do the accounting.

Mine managers resignedly submit to or sidestep expert consultant auditors. Their attitude of “utopian modernist” ideals for a “perfectly functioning system” sits uneasily alongside the messy reality of a gold mine.

Miners invest heavily in image-making

Corporate social responsibility programs have improved the behaviour of actors in the mining industry at least partly as a response to criticism from NGOs and citizen groups. A member of Barrick’s CSR advisory board told us that:

… we live in a world where reputation matters and that’s more transparent than ever before.

The Abbott government has even entrusted a review of social welfare policy to mining boss Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

The Abbott government has even entrusted a review of social welfare policy to mining boss Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

The industry is continually evolving its CSR practices in response to criticisms but also in collaboration with environmental, human rights or social justice NGOs. Some of the larger organisations have teamed up. They include Oxfam with BHP Billiton to run a program on participatory development, Rio Tinto with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and collaborations such as the Devonshire Initiative in Canada.

Such social development programs have effectively “turned combatants into collaborators”, to quote Dinah Rajak. Kirsch sees the division among citizen groups as part of a strategy by which mining corporations gain control of local situations to the detriment of environmental and social conditions. Or, as Welker would have it, it is an effect of their moral campaign to move local communities toward a capitalist future.

Ethnographies provide a detailed empirical basis for an argument about mining’s role in the reproduction of social and environmental inequality and about the problems of acting as their own regulators and undertaking community development activities.

Anthropologists ask: how have things come to be like this? These studies take our knowledge beyond the resigned sneer of cynicism that the only thing CSR enacts is a smokescreen. They seek to explain the veneer.

In this way, we can move beyond simple criticism to show how global corporate giants are made and remade in social, moral and political forms.

Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, Head of Discipline at The University of Queensland

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ABG AusAID Advisor, Anthony Regan, Slams Central Bougainville Leadership

Anthony ReganIn an extraordinary break from his ‘neutral’ role as Australian aid funded adviser to the ABG, Anthony Regan has launched an extensive attack on elected leaders from central Bougainville in an Australian journal, Security Challenges [see link below].

According to Regan no-one on Bougainville opposed to Rio Tinto for its past misconduct has pure motives, they are all in the pay of backdoor players!

He claims Lawrence Daveona ‘the executive of the  Panguna Special Mining Lease landowners association, has come under the  influence of an adviser [David Martin] from the United States. They too support Panguna  re-opening, but oppose BCL, mainly on the basis that the adviser claims to  be able to raise the approximately US$6 billion need to re-open the mine,  which would permit the Panguna landowners to own the mine lease’.

Regan has also suggested that the central Bougainville MP’s concerns over environment and landowner trauma is nothing but a trick. He argues, ‘the Member of PNG Parliament for Central Bougainville, Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro, wants the Panguna mine to re-open, he favours his own candidate company to replace BCL’.

Not finished, Regan also goes after the Me’ekamui Government of Unity – ‘The Me’ekamui Government of Unity, based at Panguna, also opposes the re-opening of Panguna, mainly because in the absence of large-scale mining there, the leaders have been entering, or attempting to enter, a range of agreements with foreign interests, in which they have purported to grant long-term rights over minerals in various parts of central Bougainville’.

It does not stop there. According to Regan, the only ones who are pure of  heart in their criticism of Rio Tinto are OUTSIDERS – but he claims, these outsiders are too stupid to realise they are being used by the backdoor players to help rob Rio Tinto of its Panguna gold.

He argues,  ‘From early 2013, when public discussion first emerged about ABG development of “transitional” mining legislations, a curious and perhaps to some extent unwitting “alliance” developed between the outside mining interests and their Bougainvillean partners, on the one hand, and PNG and Australian activists on the other’.

He suggests, ‘none of these activists [critical of Rio Tinto] have long and deep connections to Bougainville, nor detailed understanding of the current problems and pressures facing Bougainville, they have perhaps unwittingly developed alliances with outside interests seeking to get control of mining and mining revenues for their own benefit, and contrary to the interests of Bougainville’.

This narrative created by Regan which claims outsider critics of Rio Tinto are pure in motives but thick, while all Bougainvillean opponents of Rio Tinto, are on the payroll of backdoor players, is an insult to all those who fought and died fighting Rio Tinto for reasons OTHER than money. He doesnt understand land and culture are worth more than money.

Will the ABG President finally come out and condemn these attacks on his constituents and colleagues?  Enough is enough!

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UN acknowledges PNG model of development failing

polyp_cartoon_Trickle_Down_EconomicsThe United Nations has been forced to admit that PNG’s development model – based on unrestrained capitalism and large foreign owned resource extraction – is not benefiting ordinary people – see story below.  But the UN can’t grasp what really is wrong and therefore offers only the rather ridiculous conclusion that better training is what is needed to sort things out! The fact is the development model is the wrong one for PNG and it has been imposed on us by foreign powers who seek only to profit from our resources. Roy Trivedy should read up on the history of other nations who have been forced to follow the false wisdom of the World Bank, US, European Union, World Trade Organisation etc etc… and then he should study our PNG Constitution to learn about a much better development model suited to our needs NOT theirs!

UN says PNG not seeing due growth

The United Nations says Papua New Guinea’s increased economic growth is not resulting in the expected rise in jobs and societal improvements.

The resident coordinator for PNG, Roy Trivedy says rural areas are not seeing better human development outcomes, despite 14 years of continued economic growth.

He says one problem with employment levels is that rural people especially are not trained and don’t have the skills needed for the jobs available.

“How do we ensure that jobs are created, that we have a human resource base with the right skills to take up those jobs and so on. We definitely need more jobs, job creation and we need better training programmes, better apprenticeship programmes and so on throughout the country.”

Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Roy Trivedy says NGOs and other development partners need to work closely with governments in the countries at all levels, to coordinate their efforts better.

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PNG Ok Tedi pipal i wari long kompenseisan moni

View of the Ok Tedi mine workings

Ok Tedi mine long PNG (Credit: ABC licensed)

Caroline Tiriman | ABC Radio Australia

Ol papa graon klostu long OK TEDI mine long Papua New Guinea nau i wari tru nogut bai oli no nap kisim kuik Compensation moni blong ol.

Oli wari long wonem oli no save husat tru bai baem K500 tausan kina igo long Bank blong redi-im ol despla moni blong ol papa graon.

Siaman blong PNG Sustainable Development Program Sir Mekere Morauta ibin autim despla wari blong en na oli no gat despla kaen moni long givim igo long Bank.

Emi tok stat long taem  gavman blong Praim Minista Peter O’Neill ibin kisim OK TEDI mine na stopim wok blong PNGSDP, despla i kamapim planti heve long ol papa graon.

Martyn Namorong emi wanpla mansave  blong social media na emi kam long Western Province we Ok Tedi mine istap long en na emi tok gavman na Ok Tedi imas stretim kuik despla wari long wonem ol pipal imas kisim ol liklik moni blong ol.

Emi tok tu olsem ol papa graon isave kisim despla moni blong helpim sidaon blong ol long ples, long wonem olgeta bus, na wara blong ol i bagarap pinis long ol posin pipia blong mine.

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Lessons for PNG on the Precautionary Approach in experimental seabed mining

Rakhyun Kim and Donald Anton | The Australian National University

The New Zealand decision under the EEZ Act teaches a number of lessons for other Pacific Island countries that have growing interests in deep seabed mining as a means of economic development.

Papua New Guinea (PNG), for instance, has garnered attention for issuing a commercial deep seabed mining license to a Canadian company Nautilus Minerals. Nautilus is supposed to begin the world’s first seabed mining operation on the PNG continental shelf in 2016 and, if successful, will prove the technical and economic viability of seabed mining.

Other Pacific Island developing countries are in the process of designing legal regimes to provide a favourable environment for foreign investment and satisfy those environmentally concerned.

The concern is that these early movers are operating on a set of untested assumptions, namely that seabed mining will raise a significant amount of revenue to stimulate national economic development while preventing serious harm to the marine environment.

As illustrated in the Trans-Tasman Decision, however, there may be too many uncertainties at this stage with respect to effects on the environment as well as the economy.

In the face of such uncertainties, international law dictates that states apply the precautionary approach in decision-making.

Abstract:      This short piece analyses a recent path-breaking decision by the Decision-making Committee (DMC) of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of New Zealand.

In Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd Marine Consent Decision (June 2014), the DMC considered New Zealand’s first application for ‘marine consent’ for continental shelf seabed mining under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act).

Download the 19 page PDF File: The Precautionary Approach in Seabed Mining

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