Official Vanuatu government position on proposed nickel smelting plant

Office of the Prime Minister

Following a meeting last Friday between the Government and the New Caledonian Company intending to build a nickel smelter in Santo, Acting Prime Minister Ham Lini indicated the Government’s interest and asked the company to formally apply to the Government to undertake the project in Santo in accordance with all necessary legal requirements.

This means MKM, along with their Chinese partners Jin-Pei, must meet all VIPA requirements and ensure that they comply with all relevant environmental laws.

According to the presentation, a feasibility study will be conducted to determine the appropriateness of the smelter, planned to be established in one of the country’s most pristine waters near the Big Bay area in Santo.

MKM have yet to lodge an application through VIPA, even though they have sought preliminary agreements from local authorities in Santo.

The government wishes to stress the importance of ensuring that landowners receive maximum benefits from the refinery if it is established and that the plant does not adversely impact their environment, or compromise the lives of their future generations.

It means the company, along with all relevant stakeholders will need to undertake extensive awareness in the surrounding villages to alert people to the potential risks associated with such projects.

Reassurances were made during the briefing that MKM and Jin-Pei are mindful of the concerns relating to the environment and they will ensure any such impacts are minimised. However the government is not taking this at face value.

MKM and Jin-Pei plan to ship low grade nickel ore from New Caledonia to Santo to be refined and then exported overseas.

The Acting Prime Minister told the investors a council paper will need to be tabled by the Council of Ministers before formal approval for the project can be given.

In the meantime, all responsible authorities in government are being asked to ensure they are well versed with such projects and the associated risks so that they can assist the government make an informed decision.

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Bougainville landowners defend consultation over Panguna mine

NGO report claims there is widespread mistrust of discussions around PNG copper mine reopening, but Bougainville president and landowners say report is flawed

Helen Davidson | The Guardian

A rusted truck remains at Panguna mine

A rusted truck remains at the Panguna copper mine that was shut down after villagers Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville fought a decade-long civil war. Photograph: Ilya Gridneff/AAP

Backers of the reopening of the Panguna copper mine in the autonomous Bougainville region of Papua New Guinea have defended their community consultation processes and attacked a report criticising their actions.

The report by Jubilee Australia, an NGO, canvassed opinions in 10 villages surrounding the copper and gold mine – a Rio Tinto-owned project by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) which was at the heart of the island’s decade-long civil war. The mine, which was the largest of its type in the world when operating, closed in 1989.

The report, launched in Australia this month by the Greens leader, Christine Milne, Labor MP Melissa Parke and independent MP Cathy McGowan, found that resentment and mistrust of PNG defence forces, Australia and BCL because of their roles in the conflict, had led to mistrust of discussions around reopening the mine.

The research was conducted anonymously at the end of 2013 and spoke to 65 people individually and one group of 17 people in Bougainville. Jubilee’s chairman, Luke Fletcher, told Guardian Australia that while there was a risk of self-censorship among respondents, Jubilee’s findings were “certainly enough to question the main narrative” of widespread support for the mine as a source of national revenue.

However, the president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG), John Momis, disputed many of the report’s claims including that the voices of mine-affected communities had been distant from discussions which began in 2009.

“There may indeed be individuals who have not been able to, or have chosen not to, participate in consultations,” Momis said in a statement.

He said the ABG had “extremely limited resources” and faced geographical and political barriers, including a 17-year-long armed roadblock restricting government access to the Panguna area.

Momis accused the report’s authors of seeking out people known to be opposed to the mine. He said while there were individuals and communities in opposition, “nothing in Jubilee’s report substantiates this gross overgeneralisation and misrepresentation.”

“The overwhelming response is support for reopening the mine, but only if it can be done in a way that avoids the extremely negative effects of earlier mining and ensures that Bougainvilleans receive a fair share of mining’s benefits’, said Momis.

Interviewees quoted in the report spoke of a deep mistrust of BCL in running the mine again, and of fear that it would lead to a repeat of the environmental and social damage and see a return to violence.

“BCL has a lot to do in terms of reparation for what it did to us. When did BCL admit its wrongs? And now it is trying to come back; mining is not a negotiable issue,” said a woman from Guava.

Others expressed tentative support under strict conditions or different ownership.

In a letter to Jubilee, the association executives for nine mine-affected landowner groups said they did not understand why the research was done secretly.

“They did not ask us for information to help the research be accurate, so they didn’t know about the many different kinds of consultation for our people about the future of mining held over some years.”

A negotiations adviser to the ABG, Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh told Guardian Australia that he believed there was little risk of retribution to people voicing an opinion against the mine. He said the consultation process had been transparent, and provided a platform for dissenting opinion.

“All the forums – the women’s forum, the region forums and so on – have all been broadcast live,” he said.

“If there was any activities designed to intimidate people or any attempt to intimidate people it would be very quickly and widely known. Bougainville is a small place.”

O’Faircheallaigh said among those who spoke were people who were staunchly opposed to the mine, but the majority supported it with conditions.

In his letter to the Jubilee board, Momis said the ABG “is committed to social and environmental baseline studies and negotiations being undertaken to establish whether it is possible to reopen Panguna in a way that satisfies these conditions. If they cannot be satisfied, the ABG opposes reopening the mine.”

Brynnie Goodwill, CEO of Jubilee Australia told Guardian Australia: “the board is considering its response to the comments by president Momis and the landowners,” however “the purpose of the research was to support the airing of voices of mine affected communities, to explore in depth issues that may have been lingering since the closure of the mine and civil war, and to ensure those voices could become part of a broader discussion and debate.”

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Protected corals could be wiped out by deep sea mining in NZ

Protected corals could be wiped out by deep sea phosphate mining, hearing told

Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Greenpeace, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining | Scoop

Mining phosphate from the seabed of the Chatham Rise would remove a protected coral species crucial to the local ecosystem, an Environmental Protection Agency hearing into a seabed mining proposal was told this morning.

Benthic expert Professor Les Watling, a marine biologist with extensive experience – to the point of having seven new species named in his honour – was giving evidence on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), Greenpeace and Kiwis Against Seabed mining (KASM) to the hearing into Chatham Rock Phosphate’s (CRP) application to mine a 5000 sq km area of the Chatham Rise for phosphate.

The company’s sediment modelling shows that the mining waste would consist of small particles that, if pumped back into the water, would spread over a wide area. This, Professor Watling said, would create a kind of “soup” where no coral could grow.

The coral, Goniocorella dumosa, was a protected species under the Wildlife Act, and “one of the most important structure-forming, and thus habitat-creating, species on the Chatham Rise,” he said. It was the dominant coral in the area and was the reason it is a “sensitive environment” under the EEZ Act.

The mining company suggested that artificial ‘substrate’ like concrete blocks could be placed, but Professor Watling calculated that it would take 164 million concrete blocks to cover only 20 per cent of the mined area, he said, making it prohibitively expensive, and nobody knew if the idea would work at all.

DSCC spokesperson Barry Weeber noted that Chatham Rock Phosphate had admitted on Friday that placing these blocks could cost $20 billion and render the entire project uneconomic.

He also pointed to the international protocols around the effect of another destructive practice – bottom trawling – on these sensitive ecosystems.

“International protocols aimed at avoiding all significant adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems. Yet this seabed mining proposal would see deliberate targeting of areas containing these vulnerable ecosystems,” he said.

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Vanuatu ponders nickel plant

Radio New Zealand

The office of Vanuatu’s Prime Minister says investors hoping to build a nickel smelter on Santo have been asked to submit a formal proposal.

A joint venture was signed recently between a New Caledonian company, MKM, and China’s Jin Pei, with plans to build a one-billion US dollar nickel plant to process low quality ore from New Caledonia.

Last Friday, after a meeting with MKM, the acting Prime Minister Ham Lini indicated the government’s interest.

MKM has now been asked to formally apply in accordance with all necessary legal requirements including environmental laws.

A feasibility study is to be conducted to determine the appropriateness of the smelter.

MKM has yet to lodge an application through the Vanuatu Investment Promotions Authority, but they have sought preliminary agreements from local authorities in Santo.

Lini told MKM a paper will need to be tabled by the Council of Ministers before formal approval can be given.

In the meantime, all relevant public agencies are being asked to ensure they are well versed in the associated risks of such project so they can help the government make an informed decision.

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Former Founding Father of PNG Is Now Chief Puppet of Chinese and Aussie Opportunists on Bougainville

Forces of Me’ekamui | PNG Blogs

John MomisPeople once knew him as Father Momis, a young earnest Catholic priest determined to free PNG of Australian colonial domination and make it independent.   Father Momis was one of PNG’s founding fathers.   However, time has passed and so has Momis.  Ever since John Momis returned from his time as PNG Ambassador to China, his friends could see that something had changed in his brain.  Used to be he was overflowing with good talk about PNG and the potential we all had to create our nation in the form we wanted, free of unsolicited foreign influence.   Momis was a real patriot, a true PNG nationalist.  But something happened during his time in China and his views changed.  Now he couldn’t say enough about all the wonderful things about Chinese and China.

After he became President of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville, it started to become clear that Momis had changed from Blak Sauspen to Turangu Kokonas.  He had become white or maybe yellow on the inside. The black soul was gone, only dark skin remained.  Out went the old Bougainville Self Reliance strategy that got Bougainvilleans through very difficult times in the 1990s and made them a respected world model of perseverance and ingenuity in doing things for themselves despite all odds.  Self reliance was gone, replaced by Momis’ new strategy of Bougainville Needs Foreign Self Seekers.  Dwarf, squinty Chinese carpetbaggers began arriving in Buka by the planeloads standing beside the tall, handsome people of Bougainville.

The arriving snakes promised the usual fake dreams, like Buka was going to be transformed into a major city with highrises and superhighways and the kind and generous Chinese were coming to help the poor Bougainvilleans make that change, with only peace and generosity driving their hearts.

PANGUNA2

Momis should have known better from his own years as a PNG politician hearing to many foreign conmen promising the moon and delivering dirt.  Somewhere along the line Momis has contracted the Slavery Virus spreading throughout developing countries like Ebola.  Thanks to the Invitation from Momis, Chinese planted themselves on Bougainvillean sacred soil and set up shop. Momis may have remained blind to what came after that, but not the people of Bougainville.  As the months went on, it quickly became clear that these Chinese weren’t the technological wizards and mega investors they promoted themselves as, but simple tradestore owners ready and willing to push aside Bougainvillean business people.  Other Chinese set themselves up as pillagers of scrap metal throughout the island, including priceless World War II historic items.  Maybe it was the revenge of Me’ekamui that 2 Chinese scrap metal traders were badly hurt when their brakes failed one day coming down a steep road.

Behind this Chinese riffraff stood some much bigger Chinese investors, interested just like the scrap metal dealers, in helping themselves to the resource wealth of Bougainville. It was not surprising that one step would lead to another and one day the people of Me’ekamui would wake up to hear Momis say he wanted the Panguna mine reopened.  This foolish and disorientated old man, did he not realise that even making such talk would blow down Bougainville’s doors so that conmen right and left could stream inside?  Now the damage is done.  The foreign invasion increased and now there are foreign opportunists out to make a fast buck scattered throughout the island, looking to sign deals and secure resources of all kinds.  Foreign chainsaws are already cutting down the trees, thanks to local village conmen joining forces with the foreign opportunists.  Momis not only lost the plot but lost control of the foreign invasion that now promises to strip Bougainville bare of its resources, then spit the remains out onto the people’s head. John Momis has changed from the Saviour of Bougainville to its Primary Curse.

PANGUNA3

Bougainville Copper Ltd (actually an arm of the multinational mining company Rio Tinto), of course, is leading those who wish to strip Bougainville bare.  It has been pushed under the carpet and quickly forgotten that BCL was the cause of the whole secessionist movement, a noble cause created by the horrors of extreme environmental damage, permanent loss of land, and a tradition of inequitable sharing.  Jealous and worried that their rich treasure chest of copper and gold might pass into the hands of the Chinese, Rio Tinto now tries everything from promises to threats to keep their foot in the door.  It even follows the old Chinese philosophy:  if told no a hundred, even a thousand times, ask again until you have worn down your opponent and they finally say yes.

Although John Momis and his AGB mob have become the contemptible lickspittles of self seeking foreigners, that’s not true for everyone in Bougainville.  The anger is growing, people are preparing to fight once more if necessary to keep their land and freedom.   Of course that made the snakes who had the bank accounts wide open to absorb the riches of Bougainville to run crying to Momis.  With fake tears streaming down their faces, the foreign opportunists complain bitterly of the painful sacrifices they made to help Momis realise his dreams. Momis must not abandon them, they say.  Momis, a Founding Father of Papua New Guinea, has become the Bougainvillean Slave to Foreign Carpetbaggers.  He no longer hears the cries of those who sacrificed for Bougainville’s independence and the spirits of lives lost for a dream that does not include the hell of near slavery and environmental destruction.  Momis is hellbent to put Bougainville under the ownership of foreign opportunists.

PANGUNA4

The most unpardonable sin of Momis has been to contract a foreign public relations firm to design a public awareness programme to brainwash the people of Bougainville into supporting John Momis and his Gang of Foreign Opportunists.   His new partner in crime is Adam Smith International.  Adam Smith Intl preaches the techniques of the world’s dictators and is enlisted to help John Momis brainwash the people of Bougainville.  They are a mercenary company just like the Sandline mercenary army of African white soldiers who Julius Chan hired to come to PNG to kill Bougainvilleans so that Panguna mine could reopen in the 1990s.   Adam Smith Intl is today’s Sandline and John Momis is today’s Julius Chan.  Actually worse, since Momis is not a half Chinese zero Bougainvillean blood like Chan, but a full blooded Bougainvillean.  A Judas amongst his own people, Momis has hired Adam Smith Intl as his army of words, less painful than bullets, but with the same goal as Sandline – to reopen the mine and ensure Bougainville’s permanent slavery to foreigners.

The second part of this article describes how Adam Smith Intl plans to conquer the Bougainvilleans and hand their heads on a plate given to Momis.

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Filed under Corruption, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

PNG To Get Around K400 Million In Revenue From Alluvial Gold

Byron Chan

PNG Today

Mining Minister and Namatanai MP Byron Chan says the alluvial sector has often been regarded as the poor cousin to hard rock mining and has perhaps suffered from a lack of direction.PNG Today

“But the key message is that the alluvial resource is extensive, under-explored and nationwide,” Mr Chan said.

He said this when opening the inaugural PNG alluvial mining convention and tradeshow in Lae yesterday.

Mr Chan said considering the current alluvial export trends, export revenue in 2014 will come close to K400 million and production may exceed 110,000 ounces of gold.

He said the figures would be new records for the sector, adding that in the first eight months of 2014, the figures indicate a 20% increase in export revenue and a similar increase in production, compared against the highest previous year recorded, being 2011.

The MP added that alluvial mining exports may double within the next five years and perhaps tripled within the term of the strategic plan.

“This would represent what is essentially a landowner-led aspect of the PNG mining industry, potentially worth more than K1 billion per annum,” he said.

In June Mr Chan declared the newly implemented MRA mineral tenement management system operational.

He said this has been a highly successful project to introduce an electronic management system for mining tenements.

Funded by the World Bank and utilising a world renowned developer of the product, the project was delivered on time and on budget over a period of 12 months.

The system, nicknamed flexi, allows all tenements, including alluvial related tenements, to be shown on the electronic cadastral map and is accessible online.

Mr Chan said once supported by revisions to the Mining Act currently underway, flexi will allow online registration of applications for tenements achieving a world first in this leading edge system.

“Flexi enables anyone to check the availability of an area for exploration, or in the alluvial context, an opportunity to partner for investment from your laptop or ipad.”

Flexi also allows searches in MRA library files for geological information, lodge documentation and make electronic payments for fees and rent and to follow the progress of an application through the regulatory administration system.

“Flexi is the future for tenement management,” said Mr Chan.

Using data generated by flexi, there are currently 183 alluvial mining leases, either granted, under renewal or new applications. There are 18 mining leases for alluvial purposes and 175 conversion tenements. Therefore alluvial tenements represent around 40% of total tenements in PNG.

A further MRA initiative underway is the development of the MRA five year corporate plan 2015 – 2019, which will be complemented by a PNG mining strategic development plan 2015 – 2030.

Mr Chan said the plans will coordinate with Vision 2050.

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Vanuatu MP urges govt to consider nickel plant

Santo, Vanuatu

Santo, Vanuatu. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Radio New Zealand

A Vanuatu opposition MP from Sanma province says a plan for a major nickel development on Santo is worth considering.

A joint venture was signed recently between New Caledonia’s MKM company and China’s Jin Pei plans to build a one-billion US dollar nickel plant.

A group of Santo landowners has reportedly given their approval.

However the plan is yet to be formally considered by the government although elements of it are in support.

A Santo MP, Marcellino Pipite, says the government must look into any development option that could provide more funds to maintain services and a source of income for the people.

“It’s worth looking at. Let’s do it. let’s find a way out. I’m not in the government. I’m in the opposition. But in the Council of Ministers, they have to think very carefully because if someone in the Council of Ministers stop it, then can you suggest an alternative how to find money?”

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Filed under New Caledonia, Vanuatu