Multiple hurdles still facing Chinese owners of Ramu mine

MCC is still facing multiple hurdles in its attempts to increase production at its troubled Ramu mine which was recently shut by local landowners angered by the lack of benefits and environmental damage.

Technical bottlenecks, cultural challenges and management issues have all been listed as prevalent problems by mine President, Wang Jicheng. Despite the continuing problems Wang is trying hard to put on a brave face for the media…

ramu wang

President optimistic of Ramu NiCo’s progress

Julianna Waeda | PNG Loop

Ramu NiCo aims to accomplish 80% design nameplate by the end of this year which will signify the generous efforts from the staff and management in contributing towards overcoming technical bottlenecks, cultural challenges, and management hiccups to deliver the project.

While acknowledging the lower nickel metal price in the beginning of the year, President Wang Jicheng is optimistic that Ramu NiCo will utilize all its potentials to benefit from the increasing nickel price towards the middle of 2014. Nickle prize is expected to increase till the end of the year and ahead.

He said some shortcomings from project construction has slowed down the ramp-up progress, but is overwhelmed that major technical bottlenecks have been fixed.

He urged all managers and leading staff to draw on strategies to progress in some break-through so that repetition of such can be avoided and 80% nameplate production capacity is achieved.

Mr Wang urged all departments including community affairs, human resources and corporate office to create and promote harmonious working relationship within the company and outside communities and stakeholders, while asking other departments including HSE, logistics and administration to deliver their respective obligations with focus towards achieving uninterrupted production efficiency.

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Bougainville report details worries over mining resumption

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand

Voices of Bougainville cover

Voices of Bougainville lays out the concerns of villagers from around the Panguna mine to any return to large scale mining

A new report says the villagers living around the Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville want the Government to consider other options to mining.

The ABG has its hopes set on a resumption of mining, especially a re-opening of the huge Panguna mine, to kick start the economy ahead of the vote on possible independence due by 2020.

It has passed new legislation to give greater control of resources to local communities, but the NGO, Jubilee Australia, says mining is a long way from being viewed positively in Panguna communities.

In an extensive report, called Voices of Bougainville, the Australian based research and reform advocate says the people remain adamantly opposed to the Panguna mine opening any time soon.

Its chief executive, Brynnie Goodwill, says 17 years after fighting ended the people in villages in Panguna remain stressed and traumatised.

BRYNNIE GOODWILL: These issues still need addressing, certainly the issues prevailing since the war regarding the responsibility of Bougainville Copper Ltd, the PNG Government and Australia government in that war which has not been addressed.

DON WISEMAN: Now the government though, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, wants mining. It sees mining as the solution in terms of having an economy that’s starting to become viable by the time it gets to the period where it’s got to have its vote on possible independence. I don’t think they anticipate mining itself happening, but it’s the preliminary work getting underway and bringing money into the economy. But the people of Panguna say that’s not on?

BG: Let me just say straight away, Jubilee has no opinion one way or the other. It’s not really our business, it’s the community’s business to drive what is the appropriate form forward. I could understand why it would be easy for a government to think that this would be a quick solution or a good solution. I think that what has been loudly said by the Panguna communities is that other opportunities need to be explored that are alternatives to mining or potentially other ways of doing mining, smaller scale mining. All of these issues are concerns by people that have not been investigated, that the promises of large scale mining, certainly historically, have not been delivered. And I think there is grave concern too about what this might mean in terms of disruption of communities, what mining may look like in the 20-teens as opposed to the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It’s a very different kind of operation than the kind of operation that happened before.

DW: It’s presumably going to be a whole lot cleaner and a whole lot more transparent about just what is going on. We also know that the local people will benefit more. At least this is how the government sees it. But that’s not going to satisfy the people.

BG: Not sure just about the cleaner etc., I think there’s concern that there would be very little employment locally, I think that there’s a feeling that it would be almost like a locked community, I think with other projects in PNG they come with security forces. I’m not saying that this is what’s happening but I know these concerns have been raised. So I don’t think there’s enough knowledge and understanding about what actually this mining operation would involve. This is what has been picked up in the report. There is grave concern that it could only lead to more disruption for the community and more violence. So I think what the Pangunan communities are saying is that many more issues need to be addressed first and foremost and many more discussions have to be had so that there’s not the feeling that is pervading that again the appropriate discussions have not been had about the real issues.

DW: Would they ever agree to mining do you think?

BG: Oh gosh (laughs), how long is a piece of string. Currently there is near unanimity among the Pangunans that they do not want mining in their region. And there’s even been calls for ecotourism to show what mining looks like. That hole is 4km long, and 2km wide and half a km deep. I can’t speak for the Pangunan community, that would be wrong. And I don’t know, after issues of reconciliation, and some of the other calls that have been asked for in terms of accountability, whether there would be any shift, that’s something that’s way beyond my understanding and I wouldn’t project an answer on that.

DW: We’ve known for a long time about the traumas experienced in the war and we know as well that significant efforts are being made to try and help people, but is enough being done in this area?

BG: I think that there’s strong issues again of trauma that have to be addressed, there have been some aspects of reconciliation of Bougainvilleans among Bougainvilleans, Panguna has still been closed off, so those efforts have not reached people in Panguna and again it has not gone beyond Bougainvilleans. So it’s not been a case where the company has stepped forward or either government of Australia or PNG according to the Pangunans who were on the ground, have deep understanding of what occurred during the war and what occurred has not been acknowledged publicly.

DW: The report, voices of Bougainville, it’s very comprehensive, it must have taken quite a while to put together, and there are a lot of people involved it would seem.

BG: Yes, well we had researchers on the ground who walked lots and lots and lots of kilometres to reach the different villages and then there was a strong research team that was involved and after those interviews were translated from languages into English then the information was compiled in such a way. And there is a group of academics and experts internationally who have been working with Jubilee on the project.

DW: The implication there being that the government and the work it has been doing, it’s been doing consultation, but their consultation has not been as thorough.

BG: Look I think consultation is a very important topic. I think the tricky thing about consultation what we found is that in this report 65 people were interviewed individually and one group insisted on staying together and it was done in a group of 17. From our research in Panguna, people are hesitant to speak out from our understanding about some of our information forums. One Bougainvillean commented to us that it seemed that there were certain questions that were asked and there wasn’t a formula to depart from. So with all respect to consultation processes, and they are quite complex, this report was very locally driven in the sense that there wasn’t an expectation, there wasn’t a format imposed, there were questions that were asked, but there was an opportunity for people individually interviewed to weave and discuss and raise issues that they wanted to raise. I wasn’t a part of the other consultations but I think there is suspicion, especially because there hasn’t been this process of reconciliation, that if the Australian government were involved in the consultation process but has not yet essentially come clean in terms of what again locals have advised, that there is suspicion about their role completely and this whole process. So with that perception, it’s awkward for people to speak up or to be able to drive their own outcomes in a process consultation.

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PNG’s Alluvial Mining Convention and Trade Show

trade show

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September 17, 2014 · 7:04 pm

Voices of Bougainville: Nikana Kangsi, Nikana Dong Damana (Our Land, Our Future)

Jubilee Australia released its report ‘Voices of Bougainville: Nikana Kangsi, Nikana Dong Damana (Our Land, Our Future)’ at a gathering of academics, representatives of non-government organisations and community members at the UNSW Australian Centre for Human Rights on Friday, September 12.

Download the report – Jubilee Australia (2014) VOICES OF BOUGAINVILLE [12.5 MB]

Voices of Bougainville coverThe report reflects the voices of people living in the vicinity of the Panguna Mine, regarding the proposed re-opening of the mine by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Ltd. Closed in 1989 by local communities devastated by the damage it had caused their environment and social structures, the mine’s closure was followed by a brutal ten-year civil war during which more than 10,000 people were estimated to have died.

‘The people from the villages in the Panguna Region are those who have been most affected by the mine, and who will be most affected in the future should it reopen. It is vital that their insights be more deeply understood and considered by all of the parties involved,’ commented Brynnie Goodwill, CEO of Jubilee Australia.

Sixty-five people individually and one group of seventeen people, from villages in the vicinity of the mine, were interviewed regarding their feelings about the mine, the war that followed its closure, its potential re-opening and issues that still need addressing.

‘Huge number of abuses are still buried inside people’s hearts,’ said one villager from the Panguna region. (Report, p39).

People interviewed were also asked about how they saw development of their communities for the future. Concerns were raised that pressure to re-open the mine from the Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments, with the Autonomous Bougainville Government, have been linked to the long-sought after independence of Bougainville.

An almost unanimous view from those interviewed was that they did not want the re-opening of the mine to be linked to independence of Bougainville, but rather independence to occur first, and for Bougainvilleans to then determine their options for going forward. The report documented significant concerns about land being held for future generations, and an interest in exploring alternatives to large-scale mining to support an independent Bougainville.

‘We do not want the same thing to happen again,’ said one member of the Bougainvillean community attending the event, with regard to the potential re-opening of the mine.

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Wafi-Golpu costs come down

Barry FitzGerald | The Australian

SOUTH Africa’s Harmony Gold has tipped that the cost for stage one of the Wafi-Golpu gold and copper project in Papua New Guinea would be “dramatically less’’ than the $US4.8 billion suggested in the original preliminary feasibility study into the project’s development.

Wafi-Golpu is a 50:50 joint venture between Melbourne-based Newcrest and Harmony, with the pair planning to release an updated pre-feasibility study on the project before the end of the year. The original PFS, released in 2012, spooked investors because of the size of investment required to get the project into production.

Apart from the upfront cost of $US4.8bn, the original PFS pointed to life-of-mine capital costs of more than $US9bn.

Speaking at the Denver Gold Forum this week, Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs said the new PFS was almost done. “It will go through a gate-keeping process and then we will be able to talk about the capital, but it will be far more achievable,’’ he said of the first-stage development.

Once it was released, it would be clear that funding the development by the companies — both of which have come under balance sheet pressure from last year’s collapse in the gold price — will not be an issue.

Wafi is a 7.2 million ounce gold resource that sits adjacent to the Golpu deposit, a world-class resource of 20.3m ounces of gold and 9m tonnes of copper.

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Opposition to Bougainville Panguna mine ‘higher than media suggest’

Survey, to be launched in Australian parliament, finds ‘near universal’ opposition to reopening of Panguna mine

Panguna mine pit

Panguna mine, shut down after Bougainvillians fought decade-long civil war. Photograph: Ilya Gridneff/AAP Image

Helen Davidson | The Guardian 

A survey of Bougainville villagers has revealed strong opposition to the proposed reopening of the mine which was at the centre of the island’s decade-long civil war.

Media reports had suggested there was support for the Panguna copper and gold mine as a source of national revenue, with a referendum looming on the island’s independence from Papua New Guinea. The mine has been closed since 1989.

The Jubilee Australia research foundation conducted the survey in 10 villages or hamlets around the Panguna mine at the end of 2013, and found “near universal” opposition to the reopening, as well as unhappiness and mistrust of the consultation process.

The mine – majority owned by Rio Tinto’s Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) – has been central to Bougainville’s economy since the 1970s, but dissatisfaction with the way it was run and its environmental and social effects escalated into a civil war between 1988 and 1998.

It’s estimated as many as 15,000 people died by the time of the 2001 peace agreement, which included a deferred referendum for full independence, scheduled to occur between 2015 and 2020.

The Jubilee report, Voices of Bougainville, found continued resentment and mistrust of the PNG defence forces, Australia and BCL because of their roles in the conflict, and that this has led to mistrust of discussions around reopening the mine.

The report found a “sizable majority” of respondents felt that lasting peace had not been restored, despite an end to the violence. Smaller groups felt the peace process was an initiative to serve the needs of Australia or Papua New Guinea.

Respondents were also “deeply critical” of recent consultations about the mine, which they said had not fully included affected communities and certain demographics such as young people, women and elders.

“Others felt that there had been misleading statements in the media about the enthusiasm of Panguna residents for the mine reopening, and about what the reopening would mean,” the report said.

“We’ve been getting such a strong message from the media, but hearing things on the ground was quite different,” Jubilee’s chairman, Luke Fletcher, told Guardian Australia.

Fletcher conceded there was always the chance of self-censorship among respondents, and that the surveyed villages still had some connection to the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, but said the research was strong.

“I think we felt that the results are so clear that even if there has been a bit of self-censorship the picture we’ve got is certainly enough to question the main narrative.”

Fletcher suggested particular groups were pushing for an early referendum and this was likely to be linked to discussions around reopening the mine.

“Our feeling is that this urgency is one of the reasons why there is some pressure being placed on landowners to make a decision quickly,” Fletcher said. “Once Bougainville gets its independence, Bougainvillians might have more of a say in their future,” he said.

“It seems plausible to see the push to get an agreement in before the referendum as a push for certainty, both for people in Bougainville as well as outside interest groups, for example BCL.”

The Greens leader, Christine Milne, Labor MP Melissa Parke and independent MP Cathy McGowan will launch the Voices of Bougainville report in parliament next month.

Milne said it was “increasingly apparent” that Australian mining companies were not consulting local communities, that they were “making deals” with governments and that as a result local people had suffered.

“The civil war in Bougainville should really remain very front and centre in people’s minds, because there is no doubt that the mine was front and centre to that whole war erupting,” she told Guardian Australia.

“It’s pretty apparent the local community don’t want it, they see the environmental impacts and the social impacts, they don’t trust that they would ever see any benefit from the mine, because they haven’t in the past.”

In August, Rio Tinto announced it would be reviewing its options in BCL after the Bougainville parliament passed a bill stripping the company of seven exploration licenses and its special mining lease for Panguna.

BCL chairman Peter Taylor told the ABC the legislation was confusing and described it as a setback.

“It may be that Rio Tinto decides to pursue its investment, it may not, but I can’t speculate.”

Bougainville president John Momis said the legislation gave BCL the first right of refusal on the mining licence, but no more.

“If we didn’t [cancel the licences], the landowners and the ex-combatants wouldn’t have allowed BCL to come back,” Momis told ABC.


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NJV undertakes environmental impact assessment at Waisoi project


Watisoni Butabua | Fiji Village

The Namosi Joint Venture is currently undertaking an environmental impact assessment at the Waisoi project.

The Waisoi Project is a copper and gold project.

Country Manager of Namosi Joint Venture Greg Morris said this is to assess the potential social and environmental impacts of a mine at Waisoi.

Morris said they are working and making the Waisoi project one that can deliver sustainable benefits to all including Fiji and the host community.

He said they will work with the government, the landowners and villages to achieve that objective.

The Namosi Joint Venture is exploring for the mineral resources in the Namosi and Naitasiri province which covers an area of approximately 724 square kilometres.

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