Fiji upgrades environment unit to better monitor mining

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Unit monitors State land and mineral resources

Serafina Silaitoga | The Fiji Times | September 24, 2016

THE Mineral Resources Department has upgraded its environment unit to properly monitor and control development of State land or mineral resources.

Acting director Apete Soro said the unit, under the mines’ division and part of the mineral department, would have clear roles.

“We have upgraded the environment unit and this will ensure the approvals granted by the respective directors (director of lands and director of mines) for development of State land or mineral resources are monitored and controlled,” he said.

“This is according to the provisions of the Acts (Environment Management Act and Mining Act) and any special conditions of approvals in safeguarding the environment.

“For mining, special conditions are set to further ensure such protection in details are guaranteed. Companies have to produce monitoring, rehabilitation plans/programs that ensure environment compliance and protection, which are reviewed and approved by approving authorities.”

Mr Soro said the Mineral Resources Department carried out routine inspections at the bauxite mine in Bua.

In responding to comments by former lands minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa that bauxite mining had had negative impacts, which included emissions and dirty waterways, Mr Soro said they had done their routine checks.

“There are a number of ministries that are involved in environmental monitoring and the Ministry of Local Government Housing and Environment is the principal ministry as it has the mandate under the Department of Environment (director) through the Environment Management Act,” he said.

“This regulation is to ensure the protection of the environment from developments.”

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Two un-named mining companies hired Chinese to survey New Britain Trench

The Shangai is reporting two un-named mining companies operating in PNG hired a Chinese reaserch vessel

Chinese media is reporting two un-named mining companies hired a Chinese research vessel to survey the New Britain Trench. Lihir, Porgera and Hidden Valley are PNG’s largest gold mines.

Golden task for vessel’s maiden trip

Echo Yang | Shanghai Daily | September 24, 2016

CHINA’S first privately funded oceanic research vessel “Zhang Jian” returned to Shanghai yesterday after its maiden voyage off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean.

Hired by two mining companies in Papua New Guinea, the ship carried out surveys offshore near two gold mines to assess the influence of mining operations on the environment.

“Zhang Jian,” the mother ship of China’s deep-diving submersible “Rainbow Fish,” docks in Shanghai yesterday after its maiden voyage to the New Britain Trench in the Pacific Ocean. — Dong Jun

“Zhang Jian,” the mother ship of China’s deep-diving submersible “Rainbow Fish,” docks in Shanghai yesterday after its maiden voyage to the New Britain Trench in the Pacific Ocean. — Dong Jun

The ship also tested scientific equipment during the 73-day voyage, said Wu Xin, chairman of Shanghai Rainbow Fish Ocean Technology Co, the ship’s operation company.

Samples of ocean water and marine macro organisms were collected at the 8,000-meter-deep New Britain Trench, testing the ship’s capability in oceanic research to prepare for future missions aiming at depths of more than 10,000 meters.

The ship also carried 15 Chinese deep sea exploration enthusiasts, each paying 100,000 yuan (US$15,000).

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Police killed 65, injured 270 at ‘World Class’ Barrick mine in Tanzania

Toronto-based Barrick has faced criticism for many years for the large number of violent deaths at the North Mara mine. (David Chancellor/INSTITUTE)

Toronto-based Barrick has faced criticism for many years for the large number of violent deaths at the North Mara mine. (David Chancellor/INSTITUTE)

Geoffrey York | The Globe and Mail | September 22, 2016

Tanzanian police have killed 65 people and injured 270 during years of sporadic clashes with villagers at a controversial Canadian-owned gold mine, according to evidence heard by a Tanzanian government inquiry.

The alleged number of fatalities, based on complaints given to the inquiry by local communities, is the first official estimate of the scale of reported violence at the North Mara gold mine, operated by the African subsidiary of Barrick Gold Corp.

The Toronto-based company has faced criticism for many years for the large number of violent deaths at the Tanzanian mine, where the mine has agreements with local police to provide security. Villagers routinely enter the site in search of low-grade rock, from which they can extract small bits of gold. They often clash with the police, who are accused of barring some villagers while accepting bribes from others to let them enter.

Barrick’s majority-owned subsidiary, formerly known as African Barrick Gold and now known as Acacia Mining, is based in London. It operates three major gold mines in Tanzania.

In July, in its interim results for the first half of this year, Acacia disclosed that the Tanzanian Mines Minister had appointed a commission to investigate the disputes between the North Mara mine and the local communities.

The mining company praised the commission’s report, which has been shown to local communities near North Mara. The company called it “a fair outcome for all stakeholders” but did not mention the number of fatalities and injuries that were cited in the report.

In the Swahili-language report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, the commission said it had received complaints of 355 cases of torture or other abuse by the police, 65 fatalities caused by the police and 270 injuries inflicted by the police. The complaints were given to the commission in February and March when it visited the remote region where the mine is located.

The report did not give the time period for these deaths and injuries, but the numbers appeared to date back to 2006, when Barrick acquired the North Mara mine.

In a separate confidential letter obtained by The Globe and Mail, a senior Tanzanian official told the company that the government is worried by the fatalities at North Mara, the “escalating” number of intrusions by villagers, and the reported collusion between the police and some of the trespassing villagers.

“The government cannot allow this situation to continue,” said the letter, sent to a vice-president of African Barrick Gold in November, 2014, by Eliakim Maswi, the permanent secretary of Tanzania’s Energy and Minerals Ministry.

He said the situation calls for “urgent action” from the government and other involved parties to reduce the clashes and the fatalities and injuries among the intruders and police. The intrusions were escalating, despite the presence of about 160 police at the mine site, the letter said.

Two independent activist groups, Ottawa-based MiningWatch Canada and a British group known as Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), visited the mine site in July and August. They said the actual number of fatalities at the mine site might be much greater than the commission reported. Citing reports from opposition sources and human-rights monitors, they said there could have been more than 300 violent deaths at North Mara since 1999, including the deaths of women and children who were not trespassing on the mine site.

They alleged that hospital records and postmortem reports have sometimes been falsified to conceal the extent of the mine-related deaths and injuries. And they said their own investigation has found 22 cases of alleged unlawful killings by police or mine security personnel at the site, mostly since 2014.

“It is incomprehensible and deeply concerning that any corporation would tolerate such levels of abuse in pursuit of profit,” said a statement by Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.

Giles Blackham, investor relations manager for Acacia, declined to give any estimate of police-related deaths at the mine site since the company’s acquisition of the mine in 2006. But he said the fatalities have been “sharply decreasing” in the past three years, and only two such deaths have been recorded this year.

The commission of inquiry at North Mara “listened to uncorroborated complaints regarding police-related fatalities and injuries” and did not try to validate the complaints, Mr. Blackham said in response to questions from The Globe.

He said the company has reduced the violent clashes at North Mara by building perimeter walls around the mining areas, bringing in a specialist security contractor, improving its relations with the local communities and going underground at one of its pits to reduce the mine’s footprint and lessen its impact on the villages.

The number of intruders at the North Mara mining areas has been reduced by 99 per cent since 2011, and there has been an average of fewer than 10 intruders a month in the active mining areas this year, Mr. Blackham said.

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Panguna mine LO group propose steps

panguna mine pit

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | 21 September 2016

THE Osikaiang Landowners Association Executives has always stood firm on advice that is based on well researched information as they have professional Bougainvilleans advising them.

Unlike all other eight associations that have been established under the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s endeavor to re-open Panguna mine, the SML Osikaiang LO’s suggested process to follow with the PNG and ABG governments with respect to BCL Shares saga.

The SML Executive further stated that their ABG government and the President have taken and have been making so much noise about Bougainville Copper Limited Shares that have been transferred to both the ABG and the National Government.

The landowners speaking through a statement by Chairman Mr. Lawrence Daveona stated that though they supported the Prime Minister and the National Executive Council decision to give 17.4% shares to the Panguna Landowners and the people of Bougainville they revealed that there are a number of issues that need to be discussed and cleared on the process required by both ABG and the PNG Government.

The SML Osikaiang Landowners Association’s views are that at the expiry of the BCA Act (as the case is at present- NO License to BCL) the ownership of Panguna resource is rightly in the hands of SML Osikaiang Landowners under the Nasioi Customary law and that the PNG Government cannot claim any rights over Panguna Mine Resources as a result of Panguna landowners dispute and the Bougainville crisis issue.

The landowners also said one of their other views was that the ABG and President Chief Dr. Momis cannot claim unilaterally that they have rights over Panguna Mine Resources.

Furthermore they said it was unlawful for the ABG to have given BCL ‘Exploration License’ over SML under the ‘ABG Transitional Bill’ on the 8th of August 2014 as it contravenes Section 23 of the ABG Constitution.

The landowners said the ABG Parliament enactment of the ABG Mining Act 2015 does not give our ABG Government and President Momis any right whatsoever to again claim unilaterally our Panguna SML Osikaiang Landowners birth right ownership over Panguna Mine Resources.

This is because they claim that they represent SML Osikaiang Landowners of Panguna Mine in any discussions with the National Government which is unacceptable will not be entertained with anything to do with Panguna Mine resources ownership.

The landowners further stated that the SML Osikaiang Landowners Association Inc. is a legally registered Organization under the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) and has its own executive and technical advisors who must at all times represent its people as being a separate and independent legal entity.

SML’s executive must pursue its people’s interest in discussions with our ABG Government, the National Government and any Foreign Investor.

The ABG President and the Mining Minister must accept the independent legality of SML Osikaiang Landowners Association Inc. and its executive and as such not confuse our independent stand by including our people’s interest with those of other eight Panguna Mine Affected Landowners Associations.

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Pacific warned against being exploited by seabed miners

rip seabed mining

ABC News | 21 September 2016

Researchers are warning that the Pacific risks becoming an experimental test centre for seabed mining if regional nations don’t adopt proper policies.

Listen to audio

The potential impacts of seabed mining are not fully known but concerns have been raised about damage to fish stocks and marine ecosystems.

PNG Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Development Director, Professor Chalapan Kaluwin has told the Pacific Islands University Research Network meeting in Samoa that seabed mining in places like Papua New Guinea shouldn’t go ahead until proper checks have been put in place.

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Harmony buys Hidden Valley from Newcrest for $1

Local communities and government shut out as international mining companies play with ownership of PNG land and resources

Newcrest has sold its stake in the Hidden Valley mine to Harmony

Newcrest has sold its stake in the Hidden Valley mine to Harmony

Esmarie Swanepoel | Mining Weekly | 19 September 2016

Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining has agreed to sell its half of the Hidden Valley mine, in Papua New Guinea, to its South African joint venture (JV) partner Harmony Gold.

Harmony will buy the 50% interest in the Hidden Valley JV for a cash consideration of $1, the companies announced on Monday. 

A“Having completed the strategic review of Hidden Valley, Newcrest determined that the best outcome was to exit the operation and focus our attention on safe, profitable growth at our other assets,” said Newcrest MD and CEO Sandeep Biswas said in a statement.

Harmony CEO Peter Steenkamp said that the acquisition of the Hidden Valley mine was aligned with the South Africa-based group’s overall aspiration to increase its yearly production profile to 1.5-million ounces within three years.

“We believe that Hidden Valley has the potential to contribute approximately 180 000 oz/y of gold to Harmony’s production profile at an all-in sustaining cost of less than $950/oz within the next three years,” he said.

At June 30 2016, the Hidden Valley mine had an estimated mineral reserve of 1.4-million ounces of gold at 1.6 g/t and 27-million ounces of silver at 31 /t, resulting in total gold equivalent ounces of 1.8-million ounces at 2 g/t. The estimated mineral resource includes four-million ounces of gold at 1.6 g/t and 73-million ounces of silver at 29 g/t.

Harmony stated that mining the stage 5 and 6 cutback would extend the current mine life by seven years and require an initial capital investment of about $180-million.

Harmony will assume all liabilities and expenses related to the mine, including all closure, rehabilitation and remediation obligations, effective from August. Newcrest said that it would reverse the $35-million provision for rehabilitation obligations for Hidden Valley, which it made at the end of the financial year in June.

As part of the transaction, Newcrest has funded its Hidden Valley vehicle Newcrest PNG 1 with $22.5-million, which represents the company’s one-off contribution towards the future Hidden Valley closure liability partially offset by the option value of the possible future cash flows of the asset.

Harmony has made commitments to Newcrest in relation to the standard of closure to be undertaken at the mine.

In addition to its 50% shareholding in Hidden Valley, Newcrest has also signed an agreement to sell its 50% interest in certain regional exploration tenements adjacent to Hidden Valley, to Harmony.

The completion of the sale is subject to South African regulatory approvals.

Harmony and Newcrest will continue to work together on the Wafi-Golpu project, also in Papua New Guinea.

“Acquiring 100% of the Hidden Valley mine and its surrounding exploration tenements meet our acquisition criteria. After the initial investment phase Hidden Valley will generate strong free cash flows, which could be applied to the development of the Wafi-Golpu project and our exciting exploration portfolio in Papua New Guinea,” Steenkamp added. 

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NZ: Moratorium on seabed mining needed

“Seabed mining should be considered a novel experimental activity”

nz-petition-esm

Gareth Hughes MP| NZ Greens | 19 September, 2016

Today at Parliament, I accepted a petition signed by more than 6,000 people calling for a moratorium on seabed mining. This is also the day Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) second application attempt to mine the seabed of the South Taranaki Bight opens for the twenty days of submissions period under the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) rules.

It was fantastic to see the petition organised from Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), who have led the successful campaigns that saw TTR’s first application and Chatham Rock Phosphate’s seabed mining applications declined by the EPA. Three busloads of local iwi Ngāti Ruanui also travelled down from Patea for the event and they say consultation with TTR has been flawed. This company is applying for consent to suck up 50 million tonnes of seabed, extract the iron ore and dump 45 million tonnes of sediment back.

This is in the feeding ground of the world’s largest whale and the habitat for the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin so it’s no surprise there’s huge opposition. Last time TTR tried, only 8 of the of the 4800 submissions to the EPA supported the mining.

Seabed mining is a controversial new activity. The two applications to date were rejected by the EPA because of environmental impacts and scientific uncertainties. One thing that has stuck in my head from the last process was the Rumsfeldian quote ‘the uncertainties around the uncertainties is uncertain’. This is an entirely new field, apart from a little shallow water diamond mining. Seabed mining should be considered a novel experimental activity.

Both Australia’s Northern Territory and Namibia, who have grappled with seabed mining, have instigated moratoria. I support KASM’s call for the Government to place a moratorium on the activity here. We have the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world and with huge scientific uncertainties surrounding seabed mining, it’s responsible to wait and to learn more before risking our marine ecosystem and fisheries. I’d contend it’s better for the companies interested in undertaking seabed mining too, as consent applications can cost millions of dollars, so a delay and more research benefits everyone.

The petition will be referred to a select committee to consider and with only twenty days to make a submission on TTR’s application, I hope you can make one.

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