Samoa cautioned about experimental seabed mining

S.U.N.G.O. PRESIDENT: Roina Vavatau.

Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu  | Samoa Observer | 20 August 2017

Experimental deep-sea mining is on the agenda for a five-day National Focus Group Dialogue hosted by the Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organizations (S.U.N.G.O.) which starts today.

But S.U.N.G.O. President, Roina Vavatau, believes Samoa needs to proceed with caution.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, the President of S.U.N.G.O said Samoa should not be easily enticed by the millions promised if they opt to support deep-sea mining activities. 

“The money is very attractive however we have to consider the social impact of deep sea mining on us,” she said. “This is our livelihood, everyone depends on the ocean and if this deal comes to pass, what is going to happen to us.” 

Mrs. Vavatau urges the public to come as one and voice the rejection of Samoa to be a part of deep-sea mining activities. 

“Although the P.A.C.E.R Plus has been signed… however unless a total of eight Pacific countries do not sign on, there is no deep sea mining in our oceans.”

To be held at Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi conventional centre, the meeting will focus on disability; climate change; Sustainable Development Goals; Land Act and Laws and Deep Sea Mining. 

“These topics will form the basis of dialogue throughout the week,” she said.

 “Experts in these identified areas have been invited to provide information and guidance throughout the week to ensure participants are well informed in the approach to formulate Position Papers and Action Plans that S.U.N.G.O. will advocate on behalf of Samoa’s Civil Societies.”

The President invited members of the public so they can be informed about the conversations around the topics.

 “There will be representatives from government agencies whose mandates deal with the issues discussed as stated earlier.” 

According to Mrs. Vavatau, their main goal is to afford the public the opportunity to gain knowledge of the said topics. 

“That way they can make informed decisions when they come across these issues.” 

Last year, a World Bank report recommended that Pacific Island countries supporting or considering deep-sea mining activities proceed with a high degree of caution to avoid irreversible damage to the ecosystem, and ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards are in place as part of strong governance arrangements for this emerging industry.

The report says that Deep sea exploration of minerals and resources is increasing across the globe, but its short and long-term impacts on the environment, economy and society in general remain largely unknown, according to the report, Pacific Possible: Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential in Pacific Island Countries.

“Given the immense uncertainty, deep sea mining in Pacific Island countries should be approached with the highest degree of caution and transparency,” said Tijen Arin, Senior Environmental Economist and co-author of the paper. 

“Work in this space is already progressing in many countries, and progress has been made in legislation, but strengthening and increasing institutional capacity still remains a significant challenge and therefore we recommend stronger regional cooperation in this area.”

Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu have granted permits for deep-sea mining exploration, and the Cook Islands undertook a minerals exploration tender process. 

So far, Papua New Guinea is the only country in the Pacific region to have granted a license for ocean floor mining. 

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All that glitters is profit in China’s gold mines as demand for safe haven boost precious metal sales

All that glitters is profit in China’s gold mines as demand for safe haven boost precious metal sales

Zijin Mining’s first-half profit almost triples as Zhaojin Mining’s profit grows 56 per cent.

Enoch Yiu | South China Post | Sunday, 20 August, 2017

Zijin Mining Group and Zhaojin Mining Industry, among two of the Chinese gold industry’s leading miners, reported bumper interim profits, bolstered by surging gold prices amid rising global demand for safe haven investments, and increasing ales at home.

Zijin’s net profit almost tripled to 1.5 billion yuan (US$224.8 million), or 0.069 yuan per share, in the first six months of the year. Zhaojin’s net income rose 56 per cent to 396.64 million yuan, or 0.13 yuan per share, in the same period.

“Hedging demand triggered by political uncertainty became the main driver of the periodical increases in gold price” in the first half, Zhaojin’s chairman Weng Zhanbin said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The improving earnings underscore how an 8 per cent rise in the global price of gold in the first six months of the year has lifted the fortunes of Chinese miners. Earnings were also bolstered by China’s increasing appetite for the precious metal, both as a safe haven investment and as collectible, with the industry’s sales rising 10 per cent to 545 tonnes during the period.

“Mining segment delivered promising results, with the production volume of gold, copper, zinc and other key metals continuing to lead the industry,” said Zijin Mining chairman Chen Jinghe said in the result statement.

Zijin operates mines in nine overseas countries, extracting silver, zinc and copper. Among them, copper production increased 10 per cent while zinc production rose 8.6 per cent.

“During the reporting period, the company’s overseas projects maintained a good trend of development. The outputs of the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea, the Jilau/Taror gold mine in Tajikistan, and the zinc and multi-metals mine in Tuva, Russia increased,” Chen added.

“ In the second half of 2017, developed economies such as Europe and the United States are expected to stabilise and gradually recover, while the Chinese economy will remain stable and sustain a positive trend, the results of supply-side reform will begin to emerge, and the cyclical consolidation of bulk commodities has probably completed,” Chen said.

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Many protest NZ seabed mining consent

Protesters line up across Mana Beach to oppose seabed mining. Photo/ Lewis Gardner

“We will end up like Papua New Guinea… We’re going to ruin it for the sake of corporate greed”

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | 20 August, 2017

At least 150 people were waiting in strong wind until the organisers arrived. They came from as far away as Hawera and Whanganui.It had been cancelled but so many people turned up that a protest against seabed mining took place as planned at Patea Beach on Sunday.

The protest was against the Environmental Protection Authority granting marine consent to Trans-Tasman Resources to mine iron-sand from the seabed 22km offshore. That consent can be appealed until August 31.

After a brief prayer to Tangaroa, the god of the sea, speakers thanked everyone for coming and asked them to line up on Mana Beach and be filmed. Organiser Bianca Mitchell is hoping the footage will go viral when it’s up on the internet.

There were so many people that there was barely room for them to stand shoulder to shoulder between the breakwater and Patea River.

There were strong feelings among the crowd.

Patea’s Tom Matiaha objected to a chairman’s casting vote deciding whether consent would be granted.

“In my opinion the environment will be raped, both animal and mineral,” he said.

It would be like the damming of the Patea River, done without thought for the piharau (lamprey) that used to be there in season.

“I haven’t seen piharau here for a long time.”

Te Huatahi Hawira said seabed mining was more than just a Taranaki issue and iwi should unite against it. She noted Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Ruanui and Whanganui were all represented.

“Once we open up these doors and allow them to come in they will try and mine all around Aotearoa. We will end up like Papua New Guinea.”

The joint manager of the award winning South Taranaki Reef Life Project, Bruce Boyd, said the granting of the consent had hurt him and it was tough to talk. His project had showed the abundance of sea life on a reef 11km offshore.

He believed life would be equally prolific where the mining is planned. He had hoped to prove that, but was unable to get out there.

“It’s just we’ve had the worst season ever as far as boating conditions go.”

Daniel Boyd said by the time the 35-year mining consent was finished he would have grandchildren.

“I will be telling them how we used to fish here. We’re going to ruin it for the sake of corporate greed.”

The commodore of the Patea Boat Club said the 163 members had fought the seabed mining application, after deciding it would be very destructive and wouldn’t help anybody.

Whanganui’s David Scoullar said undersea mining was a dreadful backward step.

“I’m here to show some solidarity with the people of South Taranaki in their opposition.”

Another Whanganui man, Athol Steward, had worked with Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and submitted at the consent hearing. He’s had T-shirts printed with slogans and is planning an event in Whanganui.

“The fight is just starting, I think. This is when people will really come out and voice their concern.”

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Self interested foreign mining industry threatens and bullies new MPs

Peter Aitsi addresses the new MPs

Proposed amendments must not affect revenue: Chamber

Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | August 20, 2017

Members of Parliament have been informed that proposed amendments to the mining act must not affect investors’ confidence in the country.

PNG country manager for Newcrest Mining Limited and vice-president of the PNG Chamber of Mining and Petroleum, Peter Aitsi, recently told new MPs that regulatory frameworks that are detrimental to investment will have a direct impact on revenue streams for the country.

The comments were made during the National Parliament Induction Programme.

Speaking to recently elected MPs, Aitsi said they needed to be aware of the delicate correlation between PNG remaining an investment destination as well as regulations introduced for the country.

He said this when stressing how signi cant revenue streams from the mining sector contributed to the country’s purse.

“As new members of parliament, you have to be very aware of that sensitive relationship between ensuring that PNG remains an attractive investment destination, and the aspirations of our nation in terms of our legal frameworks that we develop.

“Because a change that is detrimental to investment will have a direct impact in those revenue streams. So you need to be very much aware of that,” said Aitsi.

Aitsi’s comments come in light of the proposed amendments to the Mining Act which the Chamber has continually emphasised must not scare investors away.

To drive home the importance of the mining sector, Aitsi revealed that the industry contributed 10 percent to the country’s total revenue, with personal income tax (PIT) the major contributor with just over 20 percent.

He said so not only did the state receive revenue through mineral production tax and dividends, but through employment from PIT.

“This means we need to sustain employment in order to receive the kind of revenue to look after our country and growing demand.

“What we’re promoting in terms of our regulatory framework, our fiscal regime and our regulatory must be attractive to global market,” Aitsi said.

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B’ville ex-combatants threaten violence against Panguna family

Photo: Leonard (far left) and other family members under threat

Leonard Fong Roka | PNG Attitude | 17 August, 2017

IT was reminiscent of the event in which our father was killed by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army on 18 March 1993 during the peak of the Bougainville conflict.

On that day, armed men located themselves at the assassination scene and lied to someone they met and told him to call our father to the scene of his death.

On this occasion, Panguna New Generation Leaders tricked someone to call us to a place for something good but when we reached it, dozens of men appeared and began intimidating us. A number were under the influence of liquor.

Panguna New Generation Leaders consists of former BRA men who are aggressively campaigning for the re-opening of the Panguna mine with funding from the Panguna Negotiations Office of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

The threats have been continuing for almost three weeks.

The crisis sprouted from a belief that “where the population is illiterate, the literate cannot move an inch”. The Roka family was acting in a capacity that we should do something for the government instead of waiting for the government to do something for us.

One of my sisters is a member of Melanesian Indigenous Land Defense Alliance (MILDA), formed in 1997 at Madang to advocate for the freedom of the West Papuans and on other critical issues affecting Melanesia.

MILDA had its last conference in Solomon Islands. My sister attended and saw the need for MILDA input to the Bougainville referendum.

MILDA saw that the PNG government had great influence on the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which is still a problem the ABG is dealing with. The PNG government does not respect the peace agreement by complying with its commitments.

The MILDA conference for Bougainville was to be held in the Panguna District from 14-18 August. The aim was for MILDA to listen to the locals express their needs for the coming referendum and to start supporting Bougainville in lobbying for support within the Melanesian states.

MILDA also sees that Bougainville should have a seat in the Melanesian Spearhead Group and alongside other Pacific organisations but has not reached this point yet.

But, according to Panguna New Generation Leaders, the Roka family with MILDA was interfering with the ongoing re-opening of Panguna mine.

Its leaders Henry Pipino, Junior Itamari and community government officer Francis Nasinui said at their first meeting with us that they had won the hearts of all ex-combatants in Bougainville and the Rokas were here to destroy that effort and the future of Bougainville.

They claimed the Rokas do not have respect for their authority despite us showing them the documents of approval from the ABG and other authorities. They said we are showing off with our university degrees and destroying the Panguna people.

Then they ordered the MILDA officials who were here from New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and PNG to depart Panguna.

They said they had prepared excavators to block MILDA and Roka family access to Arawa if they continued their conference in Panguna.

They also said they would smash the Rokas and any local community members and women’s groups supporting us.

They said former Panguna combatants are fighters and do not fear and will not hesitate to destroy anybody that sabotages the Panguna re-opening.

The MILDA conference for Bougainville was not terminated, however, people who wanted to listen to what our fellow islanders had to say about the Bougainville referendum moved it to Arawa where it progressed away from some of the most politically confused people of Bougainville.

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Miner’s withdrawal from Sols prompts call for better regulation

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 17 August 2017 

The Solomon Islands’ Chamber of Commerce has expressed regret over the withdrawal of the Japanese mining giant Sumitomo.

The miner announced its departure from the country earlier this month, citing the slumping nickel price and the loss of a legal battle over mining rights.

Sumitomo began exploring in the Solomons in 2005, but became embroiled in a six-year dispute with Australia’s Axiom Mining.

The battle ended this year with neither company being granted the right to a nickel deposit in Isabel province.

The chief executive of the Chamber, Dennis Meone, told Koroi Hawkins it’s unfortunate that a major international investor has departed having spent most of its time and resources in the courts.

DENNIS MEONE: I think it is a pity that as a country we could not take advantage of what Sumitomo could offer. It is a huge loss for the country and I think we are missing out big time. You know imagine how many Solomon Islanders would have been employed by they company. You know the spin-offs in the economy. Service providers that benefit. And of course the resource owners benefiting from it. So I think we have missed out big time. You know Koroi to put things into perspective our economic base in the Solomon Islands is very narrow and our growth our economic growth is mainly driven by a single industry which is mainly the logging sector. So there is the need to broaden our economic base by exploring and venturing into other areas or sources of growth and the mining sector is a good example of a sector that could sustain growth and provide the needed jobs and spin-offs for the economy. So I think with Sumitomo’s withdrawal I think we are losing big time. I think if you also look at our population growth you know one of the highest in the region if not the world. But by 2015 our population growth would double to around 2.1 million. And I guess providing that employment opportunity for our growing population is important but that can only happen if we encourage foreign direct investment flowing into the country. So I guess we have missed out an opportunity to really get the huge investment such as Sumitomo to get going.

KOROI HAWKINS: Yes and it has left under a bit of a cloud hasn’t it? It has cited the price of nickel continuing to plummet but also it has been embroiled in a lengthy court battle which resolved this year but without any really conclusions in terms of either according it the mining rights or the prospecting rights for the  nickel deposit on Isabel or its competitor Axiom.

DM: You know I think for foreign companies that are coming here and to spend so much time in court case and all this it is a waste of resources and I think this is something that we as a country and stakeholders the government the business sector, the private sector can actually learn from and ensure that I think within our internal processes within government we just have to make sure that we actually encourage growth and we do not you know with all our regulatory systems [they] are transparent and robust so that we do not actually go through this case again because it is actually. Everyone is losing out. They are losing out but also I think as a country we are losing out on this opportunity to actually get something happening in the economy.

KH: It is not the first company to come into strife in Solomon Islands. You have the Gold Ridge gold mine which has had issues in the same sector.

DM: Yes, yes.

KH: You have got RIPEL plantations in Yandina that is a long running industrial dispute. Is there an issue with Solomon Islands in terms of accommodating foreign investment?

DM: No I think it is basically down to us as a country and I say this generally, you know the government needs to be working closely with the private sector and I think there is the need to actually, we have always advocated for the private sector advocate for a conducive business environment and I think that is where government can really make a difference by shaping policies and frameworks that could encourage growth and investment. So I think there is the need but also the genuineness for us to actually get together it is just we haven’t. And this is something the government and us the private sector needs to sit down and talk through some of these issues because if we want to encourage growth in the economy we also have to understand that you know these companies are actually putting in resources into it and it is an investment for them. So at the end of the day we also have to make sure that all our systems or we actually, all our systems are transparent and ensure that we are doing the right thing to provide a conducive business environment you know to encourage investment in growth and innovation.

KH: Is there any reassurance you can give to foreign investors out there given, in the light of Sumitomo’s withdrawal?

DM: Yes, Solomon Islands is a good place to do business, things do come up, and with the case of Sumitomo it is something that I wont comment on because it is something that was before the courts. But there are so many opportunities in the Solomon Islands and one of the things that the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce is doing is talking to governments on police issues that are affecting the private sector. And we have just recently signed our memorandum of understanding with the Solomon Islands government which would provide a formal platform for us to engage on policy dialogue with governments. So I guess that in itself is a platform that we can build on and so yes there are business opportunities in the Solomons and you just need to pick which areas investment can happen in.

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More mining companies interested in Solomon Islands

Photo supplied. Caption: Mining exploration in Solomon Islands.

Charles Kadamana | Loop Pacific | August 17, 2017

More mining companies have shown their interest in nickel exploration after the Japanese firm Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) announced it is withdrawing from Solomon Islands.

One of them is Sunshine Minerals while two others are yet to confirm.

Sunshine Minerals has been granted a letter of intent by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Mines for its application for a prospecting licence over the Jejevo deposit in Isabel province and a prospecting licence is expected to be issued in due course.

The current mining company which still has interest is Axiom, despite not being granted the rights over the International Tender Areas after a legal battle with SMM.

Government Minister and Member of Parliament for Gao/Bugotu constituency, Samuel Maneto’ali, who has the political leadership over the area, said more mining companies are trying to come in after SMM withdrew.

He said he was not aware of SMM’s withdrawal until last week so he is not sure the reason behind the company’s decision to pull out.

“We missed the best mining company,” he said.

Maneto’ali said the country has lost one of the best mining companies because it has 400 years of mining experience and they have all the expertise and experience to carry out mining.

“They have good standing in environment assessments because they have the technology. There we missed the best mining company,” he said.

He said since they have withdrawn the only thing is to find other interested companies. He said since Solomon Islands lost one of the best mining companies the landowners must comprise.

“They must organise themselves and agree to the best company not to lose any more interested investors like Sumitomo,” he said.

Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) has withdrawn its nickel exploration in Solomon Islands because of slumping nickel prices and the loss of a legal dispute over mining rights.

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