Category Archives: Papua New Guinea

Stop seabed mining!

Blue whales are threatened by seabed mining (photo: SumOfUs)

Already endangered blue whales are threatened by seabed mining (photo: SumOfUs)

SumOfUs

Blue whales are the largest animals ever to have existed. Hunted almost to extinction, now these giants of the ocean are facing a new threat – from seabed mining off the New Zealand coast.

The controversial mining bid by Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) is currently being considered by New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If approved, it could seriously disrupt this vital foraging ground for the endangered blue whale, as well as affecting a vast array of other marine wildlife, including the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin.

Tell the EPA to reject TTR’s application to mine.

Seabed mining is a new technology, and so TTR’s application is riddled with uncertainty.

What the company does admit is its efforts to extract iron sand from the bottom of the ocean would result in a 100km² plume of sediment spreading through the waters of the South Taranaki Bight, one of only five blue whale foraging grounds in the entire Southern Hemisphere. When questioned about specific impacts on the area’s ecology the company says, not very reassuringly, ‘the uncertainty of the uncertainty is uncertain.’

This mining operation should not go ahead until these uncertainties have been eradicated and TTR can prove that no marine wildlife will be affected. This will require much more scientific study. Until then, the New Zealand government has a responsibility to put the protection of endangered species above commercial concerns.

Tell the EPA to junk the application until TTR can prove it won’t affect the blue whales.

Thanks for standing up for the whales,

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Australian ‘aid’ aims to ensure Bougainville subservience

PNG Exposed

The Australian government has already assumed the role of regional sheriff and wants to sit astride a region of compliant states and micro-states. This means other countries markets and resources should be open to foreign capital without barriers such as the muscular protection of landowner rights, or strong environmental laws. Australia is targeting its aid spending to ensure Bougainville fits this model.

Whatever the future for Bougainville, Australia wants to ensure the island is a subservient neighbor providing a supporting role to Australia’s own economic and political interests. Australia is therefore targeting its aid spending to ensure that outcome, placing consultants in key political and financial roles and neglecting health and other people-centered sectors.

Australia’s emphasis is clearly demonstrated in new figures that show the breakdown of aid spending by Australia on consultants for the resource-rich island of Bougianville.

Figures released by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (see below) show that over 90% of $2.9 million per annum spent on the wages of consultant working for Australia on Bougainville is directed at ensuring Australian political structures, policy priorities, economic models, and security interests dominate in the new Bougainville government and bureaucracy.

In contrast, less than 9% of spending is targeted at health and HIV prevention and Australia is spending NOTHING on consultants for agriculture development, extension services to support self-sufficiency or women’s and youth programs.

In all, Australia is funding 22 consultant positions on Bougainville. Twenty-one of those consultants are working on governance, law and justice and mining programs.

Over half the consultants are working directly with government departments, writing legislation and advising on the drafting of policy, financial management and  procurement.

This all means Australia in a powerful position to ensure its interests and those of its largest corporations are well taken care of in Bougainville’s future.

As a state-builder, Australia builds in its own image, and wants to ensure Melanesian countries act as stewards for foreign companies rather than as the protectors of their own citizens. As a result the people have already had to suffer at the hands of transnational corporations like Rio Tinto, BHP, Rimbunan Hijau and Exxon-Mobil – and it looks as if Bougainville will continue the trend…

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Bougainville Copper shareholders call for independent inquiry into civil war

PHOTO: Bougainville's Panguna mine is one of the richest copper mines in the world. (ABC)

PHOTO: Bougainville’s Panguna mine is one of the richest copper mines in the world. (ABC)

Jemima Garrett | Radio Australia

A group of shareholders is calling on the Rio-Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd, to appoint an independent jurist to conduct a full enquiry into the involvement of the company in the civil war on PNG’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville, before it goes ahead with any plans to re-open its mine.

The move is being coordinated by a new lobby group, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility.

The civil war, which left up to 20,000 dead, was fought between PNG forces and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, amid ethnic tensions among local Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans from other parts of the country.

“During that period there was clearly involvement of both Bougainville Copper and the Papua New Guinea government and I think the wounds from that are still not have still not healed that is the biggest issue,” said Caroline Le Couter, executive director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility.

Prior to taking on the job at the centre, Caroline Le Couteur, spent 17 years on the board of Australian Ethical Investments Ltd, a company with more than $700 million under management.

Ms Le Couteur told Pacific Beat the best chance of BCL’s mine being re-opened will come from commitments to good corporate citizenship.

“I think it is important in terms of having a fresh start for Bougainville Copper, that we are starting again, that we are listening to the people of Bougainville and that is why we are looking for an independent person to, on behalf of Bougainville Copper, to look at what the issues are and how things can be better in the future,” she said.

“There is no interest for shareholders obviously in repeating the problems of the past.

“We want a positive future and that will only be a positive future if the people of Bougainville feel it is going to be a positive future.”

Bougainville Copper Ltd has told the Australian Stock Exchange shareholders will be asked to vote on 2 resolutions.

The first will be to commit the company to sign up to international human rights and environmental standards.

The second to call for the appointment of an independent jurist of outstanding achievement to conduct a full inquiry into the company’s involvement in counter-insurgency on the island of Bougainville during the civil war in the late 1980′s and nineties.

The votes will take place during an annual general meeting to be held on 6 May at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby.

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Shareholders want action on Bougainville mine

Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility

accrShareholders at the Bougainville Copper (BCL) AGM will push the company to address the concerns of the local community and environmental issues before attempting to reopen the Panguna mine, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

BCL operated the Panguna mine between 1972 and 1989. Panguna is, still, potentially one of the largest copper and gold mines in the world.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has placed two resolutions on the agenda for the Bougainville Copper AGM to be held in Port Moresby on May 6.

“The best chance of BCL’s mine being re-opened will come from commitments to future good corporate citizenship by BCL. Rio Tinto, its largest shareholder has made such commitments. BCL should too. That is what our resolutions call for.” said Ms Caroline Le Couteur, Executive Director, ACCR.

The mine was closed as a result of industrial sabotage by local landowners arguing that the mine polluted the environment and waterways, harmed culture, custom and kinship, killed wildlife, damaged crops, caused illnesses and significant inequalities. The group demanded compensation and the mine closure. The PNG government responded using military force and a blockade, prompting a decade long war leading to 10,000 to 20,000 dying.

“To improve the chance of the mine reopening, to get a better deal for the people of Bougainville and ensure the environment disaster of the previous operations are not repeated, we are calling on BCL to invite an independent jurist to conduct a full enquiry into the involvement of BCL in the civil war, and ensure any proposal to restart the mine should deal with the outcomes of that enquiry. We are also calling on BCL to commit to a high standard of environmental rehabilitation,” said Ms Caroline Le Couteur, Executive Director, ACCR.

ACCR is working with Jubilee Australia, an NGO with strong links to development organisations and faith groups in Australia including the National Council of Churches of Australia. Jubilee Australia’s CEO Brynnie Goodwill said, “The voices of the people living in the vicinity of the mine who live with its impact now and for years to come should be closely involved in decisions regarding its future.”

An ‘Investor briefing’ and details of ACCR and Jubilee are on our website or visit our Bougainville page

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Coppermoly hits visible copper at Nakru-2 in Papua New Guinea

Proactive Investors

Coppermoly Limited should trade higher today after intersecting visible copper mineralisation in two reconnaissance diamond core drill holes at its Nakru-2 prospect in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

Indications of continuous mineralisation start near surface and continues to below 100 metres, with assays pending.

These early results also appear to confirm Coppermoly’s model of mineralisation, complementing surface sampling late last year of copper-in-soil up to 66,800 ppm and rock chips up to 24% copper.

The Nakru-2 prospect is located 1 kilometre west of Coppermoly’s Nakru-1 prospect, which has an Inferred Resource of 38 million tonnes at 0.61% copper and 0.28g/t gold.

The two new diamond core holes are spaced 100 metres apart, testing for a pumice breccia unit; a  similar pumice breccia unit is the host to mineralisation at Nakru-1.

Only three drill holes have been previously drilled at Nakru-2.

Two diamond core holes drilled by Coppermoly in 2009 intersected strong chalcopyrite mineralisation with a best interval of 51.7 metres @ 1.21% copper including 27.7 metres at 1.90% copper.

Then in 2010, Barrick Limited drilled a deep hole from the north that intersected 64 metres at 0.59% copper.

Coppermoly’s mineral exploration activities are focused solely on the island of New Britain in PNG where it holds five exploration licences, and an additional two under application.

These licences cover copper, gold, silver, zinc, molybdenum and iron mineralisation, and the company is capitalised at around $5 million.

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Govt moves to stop PNGSDP asset sales

kerengakua
Isaac Nicholas | Post Courier

The national Government has moved to stop the sale and or the disposal of PNG Sustainable Program assets. Attorney-General Kerenga Kua has announced that the Government has, through its Singapore lawyers, filed an application in the Singapore courts on Monday to stop PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd (PNGSDPL) from disposing of its assets, and to appoint independent receivers to take control of and manage these assets.

The State was compelled to take out this application in order to preserve PNGSDPL’s assets, which are in excess of US$1.4 billion, which are held in trust by PNGSDPL for the people of the Western Province and the rest of Papua New Guinea. Mr Kua said in a statement that those presently in control of PNGSDPL have failed to use these assets for the benefit of the people of the Western Province and the rest of PNG, and have by their actions placed these assets in jeopardy.

“They have also refused to recognize the rights of the State as the democratically elected representative of the people, and commenced proceedings against the State before the Singapore courts and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes,” Mr Kua said. “The State believes these proceedings are without merit and will strongly contest them.”

He said more recently, PNGSDPL has terminated all its development programs and projects in Papua New Guinea, causing serious harm and damage, and moved all its operations to Australia.

“There have also been recent worrying reports that PNGSDPL has been disposing of many of its assets,” Mr Kua said.

He said the State was therefore compelled to act to ensure that PNGSDPL is held accountable for its actions to the people of the Western Province and Papua New Guinea.

He said the State will inform the people of the outcome of the application as soon as possible.

“The State hopes that, in the meantime, those controlling PNGSDPL will not take steps to further jeopardise the assets as this will only cause further harm and damage to the people of the Western Province and the rest of PNG.

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PNG govt action inappropriate says PNGSDP

Radio New Zealand

Ok Tedi

Ok Tedi

The Papua New Guinea government has filed an application in the Singapore courts to stop the PNG Sustainable Development Programme Ltd from disposing of its assets.

It has also called for the court to appoint independent receivers to manage these assets.

The Attorney General Kerenga Kua says the government had to act to preserve the company’s assets, which are in excess of 1.4 billion US dollars.

He says the money is being held in trust by the company for the people of Western Province and the rest of Papua New Guinea.

But the company says the Attorney General’s statements are inaccurate and defamatory and it will resist the government’s application vigorously.

The chairman of the PNG Sustainable Development Programme, Sir Mekere Morauta, says it is highly inappropriate for the Attorney-General to comment on matters that are still before the Singapore High Court.

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Madang mining jobs still uncertain

Mika Loga | Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

There’s still uncertainty over the employment of Fijians at the Madang mine in Papua New Guinea.

Fiji’s High Commissioner to PNG Romanu Tikotikoca has confirmed that nothing has materialized on the issue to date.

Tikotikoca says, their inquiries into a job arrangement, said to have been made during the Fiji Trade Show in PNG last year, have come out with negative results.

“We’ve verified that exercise that was undertaken but we found out that there was no truth into it… as it is now nothing else has come forth. We need to realize and conduct due diligence pertaining to what is required at this end“

The local travel agency has taken deposits from people promising them jobs at the Madang mine.

The Labour Ministry has been aware of the matter and is conducting its own investigation.

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Morobe rules out marine dumping of mine tailings

“Open seas tailing disposals will not be allowed and so every mining companies and various stakeholders must be mindful of how they manage their waste,”

morobe

Morobe Province rich in mineral resources 

Simon Keslep | Post Courier

Morobe Province is rich in mineral resources, a mining conference on exploration project updates within the province was told. Organised by the Mineral Resource Authority, the conference itself highlighted important key factors on how mineral exploration activities have been proven successful by various investors and local small scale mining companies.

Governor Kelly Naru said the province has had a long history in mining of gold, silver and copper and much of these minerals have supported both local economy and also within the international stoke exchange markets. He said with the first gold rush at Wau and Bulolo in the 1920s which made world news headlines, there proves to be airlift records and dredging operations along the Bulolo River apart from the purity of gold.

“We must consider and ask ourselves whether our social, community and environmental responsibilities are being prioritised as well in terms of having this mineral explorations,” said Mr Naru.

He said mining is a very tough business having huge costs of money on royalties, taxes, machines and even takes long hours of exploration and extractions. Mr Naru believes that with this toughness comes a common interest and responsibility to the people, environment and ecosystems that face effects of these mining activities.

According to Mr Naru the Morobe Provincial Government will support miners and mining companies through their responsibilities as mineral extractors and their waste disposal management strategies.

“Open seas tailing disposals will not be allowed and so every mining companies and various stakeholders must be mindful of how they manage their waste,” said Mr Naru.

Waste disposals issues being faced within the Markham River and even by the upper and lower Watut communities were strongly urged by governor Naru not to be repeated but sustainably managed, he said.

Companies who attended the conference include Pacific Niugini Minerals, Katana Iron and Morobe Mining Joint Venture in which they all a fully established at Wafi Golpu and Hidden valley joint venture and even Niuminco.

“Be responsible towards the environment and the people in the discharge of your duty and care,” said Mr Naru.

Mining activities has two sided aspects and so it includes the prospect benefits and even the down side effects on the people and the environment, he said.

Mr Naru said such conference is meaningful and strengthens the progress and partnership between all stakeholders including the government and the people to know exactly how mineral explorations have been carried out within the province.

With Lae being an industrial hub with booming economic activities, a lot has been said about getting the political, social and environmental conditions right so that the city and province can take advantage of the growth.

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When will Rio Tinto Face Justice for its Crimes on Bougainville?

The Bougainville Truth Initiative | PNG Exposed

Its that time of year again, where Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) celebrates its impunity from prosecution by declaring its resolve to re-enter Bougainville and scoop up what’s left of the mineral deposit they were forced to leave, when landowners closed their environmentally catastrophic operation.

Burying the dead. This photo was taken after a 1996 mortar attack on a church in a 'safe zone'. Because of the blockade, and ban on journalists, virtually no imagery of the conflict was captured. This was taken on a disposable camera smuggled in and out of Bougainville via the Solomon Islands. (Photo credit: Anonymous)

Burying the dead. This photo was taken after a 1996 mortar attack on a church in a ‘safe zone’. Because of the blockade, and ban on journalists, virtually no imagery of the conflict was captured. This was taken on a disposable camera smuggled in and out of Bougainville via the Solomon Islands. (Photo credit: Anonymous)

In BCL’s 2013 annual report, published last week, the company’s Chairman gloats about escaping civil liability in the US courts on jurisdictional grounds.

“The action”, the Chairman argues, “which sought to invite a foreign court to decide on local PNG matters, in the company’s view sent a negative message about PNG and Bougainville and has not been helpful in attracting investors”.

If investors are deterred by the prospect of being found liable for gross human rights abuses they have helped author, perhaps these are not the type of investors PNG should be courting!

BCL has also been given moral support from the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Australian legal advisor – recently revealed to have been paid $270,000 – K680,000 in Bougainville aid money – who went on the record to claim “credible evidence is yet to emerge” proving the allegations against Rio Tinto made in the United States.

Despite sophisticated efforts to deny and deceive landowning communities for a second time, the gravity of BCL’s actions are well known on the ground.

Below are some examples of why communities are fighting BCL’s return.

Anyone as disgusted as we are by this evidence can join the international campaign to bring Rio Tinto to justice for its deplorable actions on Bougainville: http://www.jubileeaustralia.org/2013/campaigns/notonmywatch/bougainville

BCL’s Managing Director Declares Support for PNGDF Offensives 

In this meeting with PNG Prime Minister, RJC – Robert Cornelius, BCL’s Managing Director – applauds security force offensive operations, and even identifies civilian targets to ‘apprehend’. Not involved in military operations?

BCL Supports Military Operations image

 BCL Provides Logistic Support for Military Operations

PNGDF officer, and acclaimed author, Yauka Liria, recounts the wide-ranging support BCL lent the security forces.

Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p3Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p4Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p5Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p6Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria p7Source: ‘Declaration of Yauka Aluambo Liria’, Alexis Holyweek Sarei, et el.,v Rio Tinto, plc. et al., Case No. 00-11695 MMM AIJx, United States District Court – Central District of California, Western Division, 2001.

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