Fiji landowners miss out on promised mining benefits

Bauxite mine opening in 2011. Photo: Fiji government

Bauxite mine opening in 2011. Photo: Fiji government

Fiji landowners want promised mine royalties

Radio New Zealand

A petition will be presented to the Fiji government next month by landowners in the Northern Division who say they have not received any royalties from a bauxite mine they consented to in 2011.

The Chinese company Aurum Exploration Limited has almost completed mining at the site in Nawailevu, which has produced almost 1 million tonnes of bauxite.

The Sodelpa MP Mosese Bulitavu says the company has only paid $600,000 so far in royalties to the Lands Department, which still hasn’t been handed over to the landowners. And he says the company still owes another $1.5 million in royalties.

“Commodore Bainimarama, he had promised at the opening of the Nawailevu bauxite mining, in his opening statement, that government will be paying them after 2011, two years time, will be $3 million dollars, plus other development projects, housing developments, that has all not happened.”

Mosese Bulitavu says at least 300 signatures have been gathered so far.

The same company has just commenced mining at a second site in Leketu and was just recently issued a lease for a third bauxite mining site at Dreketi.

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The Momis Mining Act: When land defense equals the assault of a child

The Momis Mining Act is an undemocratic attack on constitutional and common law rights

Dansi Oearupeu | Imipono Projects

Bougainville’s new Mining Act strips citizens of basic constitutional and common law rights. Making matters worse, democratic protest against mining and compulsory acquisition of land is now a criminal offence punishable by prison terms that are equal in weight to the punishments given to child sex offenders.

Under the new Bougainville Mining Act shepherded by the Momis government landowner resistance to mining operations is now a criminal offence that is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

Section 346 of the Mining Act states, ‘a person commits an offence if (a) the person unlawfully— interferes with or obstructs exploration, mining or other operations authorised under this Act (b) interferes with machinery, plant, road, work or property on, in, under or over the area of a tenement or community mining licence, which is used in the exercise of a right conferred under this Act. Penalty: K250,000 and 5 years’ imprisonment’.

'This Rorovana mother would now face imprisonment for protecting her land under the mining bill.

‘This Rorovana mother would now face five years prison for defending her land

So any attempt to peacefully defend customary landholdings by blocking mining equipment, mine personnel or other appointed officials, as the mothers of Rorovana did in the 1960s, now attracts a five year custodial sentence.

In an underhanded twist, this punitive prison term was not in the original draft released by the Momis government in December 2014. This last minute amendment to the bill increases the penalty for protest 60 fold.

To put this in context, the Momis government believes that customary landowners who peacefully resist mining on their own land are guilty of a crime equal in seriousness to the indecent assault of a child (5 years) or possessing child pornography (5 years custody). Clearly, the Mining Act is in breach of the rule of proportionality, where crimes of equal moral weight are given similar punishments, while those of dissimilar moral weight are given different punishments. How can a landowner protecting their land from destruction by a foreign multinational, be regarded the same as a paedophile who watches videos of children being sexually abused?

But, alas, under the Mining Act the landowner is actually treated worse than the paedophile.

Incredibly, the act abandons a fundamental common law principles that goes back centuries, which states that for an offender to be found guilty of a crime the state must prove actus reus (the accused committed the criminal act), and means rea (the accused intended to commit a criminal offence).

For landowners in Bougainville, this principle no longer applies!

Section 355 of the Mining Act states, ‘subject to an express provision in this Act to the contrary, it is not necessary to prove an intention or other state of mind in order to establish the commission of an offence under this Act’.

Remember, this law was written for the Momis government by the British company Adam Smith International – by including this section Adam Smith have, in effect, robbed the people of Bougainville a common law right the law’s drafter would enjoy in the United Kingdom were they arrested for a criminal offence.

As a result of this provision landowners who are unaware of the Mining Act provisions – owing to a lack of consultation – who are simply protecting their land from trespassers, could now be thrown into prison for years, despite the fact they had no mental intent to breach Bougainville law. Not even rapists or murderers are denied this common law right.

To make matters worse, permission to use land for mining purposes can be given by less than 1% of landowners. Under the Act, the ABG can appoint a landowner organisation to consent on behalf of all landowners. There is no requirement for majority consent!

As a result, a remote village community may be unaware that a distant wantok has signed away their land. Then when the bulldozers approach and they resist, they will not simply face the mobile squad rifles, but a substantial prison term.

Nor can landowners shield themselves against punitive criminal sanctions using the Constitution, because the Mining Act suspends key constitutional provisions protecting the civil, economic and human rights of landowning communities. In particular, section 2 of the Mining Act  allows the ABG to suspend the right to freedom from arbitrary search and entry, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of information, and most controversially the right to property – the state can compulsory acquire land against the community’s will.

Then there are a whole range of other criminal offences under the act that go from the serious to the trivial. Under the Mining Act removing or defacing a marking peg, is a crime punishable by prison.

Section 348 states ‘a person commits an offence if the person, without authority, breaks, defaces or removes, or otherwise interferes with a boundary mark erected under this Act. Penalty: K25,000 and 30 days’ imprisonment’.

Or what if a landowner whose land has been compulsorily acquired, peacefully refuses to comply with orders to leave their ancestral lands? This is a criminal offence punishable by two years imprisonment.

Section 349 states that a person commits an offence if they ‘obstructs, hinders or delays an authorised officer in the performance of the officer’s duties; or fails to comply with a lawful requirement made by an authorised officer; or refuses an authorised officer entry to premises or land into or on which the authorised officer may lawfully enter; or fails, neglects or refuses to allow or provide all reasonable facilities and assistance to an authorised officer exercising a power under this Act; or impersonates an authorised officer. Penalty: K50,000 and 2 years’ imprisonment’.

So whether landowners consciously resist, or accidentally resist, the encroachment of mining companies on their land, whether it be for exploration, construction work or mining, they are committing serious criminal offences. They are also committing a criminal offence if they engage in non-violent resistance on their own land by refusing to vacate their property for the mining company. Making matters worse landowners are denied common law and constitutional protections afforded rapists, murderers and even paedophiles. This is a foreign mining law for foreign interests, democracy has now been suspended for mine affected communities on Bougainville.

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EU extends its promotion of experimental seabed mining to the Marshall Islands

European citizens already live in luxury, but it is corporations from the UK, Germany, Italy, Finland and Norway that are profiting from experimental seabed mining plans in Papua New Guinea – profits paid for by PNG taxpayers.

Meanwhile the European Union continues to impose a framework to ensure the same model is extended across the whole Pacific region…

European Colonialism never went away – it just changed its operating methods! 

poor feed the richMarshall Islands consults on deep sea minerals

Secretariat of the Pacific Community | Marianas Variety

The Republic of the Marshall Islands or RMI with the assistance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community-European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project, has commenced public consultations on deep sea minerals, with a particular emphasis on the draft national deep sea minerals policy and seabed management bill, which will be submitted to the RMI cabinet in June 2015.

Government representatives, national agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, churches, members of parliament, the Council of Iroij and communities took part in the consultations, which were held in Majuro and Ebeye between April 22 and 24, 2015.

The main objective of these consultations was for the government to present the vision, goals and objectives of the draft national deep sea minerals policy and in the contents of the seabed management bill.

This was also an opportune time for the government to raise awareness of the opportunities for the country to engage with the deep sea minerals industry, with the view of discussing alternative sources of revenue that will be used for the well-being of the people.

These consultations highlight the government’s commitment to ensuring public participation and transparency, and addressing the concerns of all stakeholders.

“We would like to applaud the RMI government’s effort in facilitating an open and inclusive process for its new deep sea minerals policy and seabed management bill,” said the EU Ambassador for the Pacific Andrew Jacobs.

“Dialogue and discussion on commercial exploitation of deep sea minerals with a wide range of stakeholders helps build the necessary trust and understanding between different parties on a sensitive subject,” the ambassador added.

“The involvement of all of the people of RMI, including local communities, is key in the approach followed by the government to move forward with the Deep Sea Minerals industry,” said Secretary of the Ministry of Resources and Development of RMI, Rebecca Lorennij.

“We are extremely grateful to SPC and the EU for the support and assistance provided to RMI and we want to believe that this partnership will continue and enable the Republic of the Marshall Islands to build its expertise and capacities with the view of managing and regulating this new industry for the benefit of Marshall Islands people,” the secretary added.

The deep sea minerals project supports this broad consultation, and offers technical advice and assistance to its 15 participating Pacific countries, providing accurate information and guidance through awareness programs and workshops at both the national and regional level, to ensure that countries have relevant information to make informed decisions.

A consultative approach is vital in the formulation of any policy or national framework, as the public’s views and concerns must be taken into account before an agreement is made.

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China extends its mining footprint in Fiji


Lease issued for third bauxite mine in Fiji

Radio New Zealand

A lease for a third bauxite mining site has been issued in Fiji, and will be the largest so far of the sites in the Northern Division.

The Chinese company Aurum Exploration Limited has almost completed mining at the first site in Nawailevu, which has produced almost 1 million tonnes of bauxite.

The same company has just started clearing the third site at Dreketi which covers an area of 222 hectares, compared to the 150 hectares at Nawailevu.

The Mineral Resources Department Director, Malakai Finau, says the company has just started work at the site.

“In fact we have just issued the mining lease for this third site, known as Naibulu East, they are beginning the mining development operations. They have to clear the site and do the roads.”

Mining has just commenced at the second, smaller site in Leketu, where bauxite will also be exported solely to China.

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UN told of mining industry human rights violations in Pacific region

Pacific people experiencing cultural genocide at the hands of the extractive industries

Call for UN Investigation into mechanisms to hold businesses, multi-nationals and extractive industries accountable for not only human rights violations but also criminal acts in Indigenous lands and against Indigenous Peoples

Porgera Alliance at the UN in New York

Porgera Alliance representatives at the UN in New York

Porgera Alliance*

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 14th Session:  Statement by Akali Tange Association and endorsed by the Pacific Caucus

We would like to begin our statement in addressing the fact that while we here at the United Nations talk of human rights violations in the context of the pillaging and plundering of resource extraction by businesses, foreign companies and multi-nations and States on Indigenous lands we are deeply aware of the fact that and living the reality that these human rights violations are, in fact, criminal acts being committed against us in and on our own Pacific waters and lands.

From environmental damage, to averting of our food chains, to the importing and planting of unsustainable crops, to food insecurity, the peoples of the Pacific experience cultural genocide at the hands of extractive industries that face little to no legal recourse or actual, on-the-ground human rights or criminal law standards being met. In fact, it is as if the businesses are the ones dictating the law of the lands.

The weakness of State governments in the supporting foreign companies from developed States entering our sacred, traditional, territorial and life-sustaining lands and resources results in the crushing of our Pacific Indigenous peoples, health, lives and well-being to a degree that is cruel and inhumane.

Corruption and lack of political willpower permit businesses to get away with crimes ranging from murder to forced relocation and evictions, rape, organized assaults, torture and other bodily harm to our families, in our homes and through the destruction of and for our resources, alongside restrictions of media access and the labeling of our Indigenous Pacific human rights defenders and allies as criminals and subversives and often ending in their deaths.

UN General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII), on Permanent sovereignty over natural resources, has stated that:

“violation of the rights of peoples and nations to sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources is contrary to the spirit and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and hinders the development of international co-operation and the maintenance of peace.”

However we do not see these words being upheld in our Indigenous Pacific homelands by the very States who have agreed to this and other treaties and legal manifestations including the United Nations, including through the UNDRIP. Violence against our women and men by extractive industries committed by security guards, hired police forces, workmen, and other extractive industries employees is used as a weapon of intimidation by business forces occupying our territories and defiling our Pacific Indigenous peoples’ self-determination.

The violence against Papua New Guinea and its Indigenous people/s at the minds and hands of Barrick Gold and the mining industry are but one heavy-hearted, all-consuming example of the rape of both Indigenous women and traditional Indigenous territories and relations here on earth by companies manifesting from ‘developed’ States for the benefit of the development-privileged global north and west. Indigenous landowners victim to extractive industries experience tailings into their river systems and poisoning of the very earth that is needed to sustain Indigenous life and cultures, resulting in environmental violence.

OECD guidelines are not complied with, nor are basic tenants of Human and Indigenous Rights and needs for cultural and human survival such as land security, fresh water and foods and continuation of traditional practices. Businesses are not held accountable for genocide, cultural genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity in the context of extractive industries, however we the Indigenous Peoples of the pacific experience that we are victims of all of these crimes at the hands of extractive industries in reality. UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, has stated that “Sexual violence in conflict needs to be treated as the war crime that it is; it can no longer be treated as an unfortunate collateral damage…”, and the UN Security Council has stated that “women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.”

General Comment No. 14 on the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued by the ICESCR Committee in 2000 states, Article 12(4) states that:

“the right to health embraces a wide range of socio-economic factors that promote conditions in which people can lead a healthy life, and extends to the underlying determinants of health, such as…a healthy environment” and “any person or group victim of a violation of the right to health should have access to effective judicial or other appropriate remedies at both national and international levels and should be entitled to adequate reparation.

We seek the right to begin to heal from the atrocities committed against us by extractive industries and the States that align with them, however how can we become healed and healthy again, when the atrocities have never ended? For this we reference Articles 24 and 43 of the UNDRIP, as well as the wisdom of our own sacred ways, peoples and lands.

We watch politicians, lawyers and judges from the ‘developed’ global north who have once championed international criminal law and justice in the highest of world courts and tribunals, such as Gabriel Kirk McDonald, then go on to be paid millions of US dollars or other currencies of ‘developed’ States to serve as ‘human rights advisors’ to major extractive industries such as Freeport McMoran, while these same companies then continue to, for years upon years and to this day, rape, murder and pillage and plunder the Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific. Where is our justice? Where are the tribunals giving us back our human and homeland security, lives of our peoples, self-determination and rights to our lands?

We recommend the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples investigate ways and means to clear mechanisms that Indigenous Peoples have full and equal access to and voice in and in which they can hold businesses, multi-nationals and extractive industries accountable for not only human rights violations but also criminal acts in Indigenous lands and against Indigenous Peoples in accordance with International Criminal Law and Customary Law including but not limited to crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, cultural genocide, and the breaching, with the collusion of States, of the very legal, moral and ethical foundations of the Charter of the United Nations and the right of Peoples to self-determination. We recommend that the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  coordinate with other Special Rapporteurs to undergo this investigation.

*Organized to demand rights for the People of Papua New Guinea

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

Fr Simon Dumarinu, a voice for the Grass Roots on Bougainville?


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

Rio Tinto’s window opens for Bougainville Copper exit

burnt out truck at the Panguna mine

A lone copper dump truck  burned out during the crisis. Photo: Ian Booth.

Rowan Callick | The Australian

Rio Tinto’s review of its controlling stake in Bougainville Copper, now in its ninth month, is considering the options not only of a trade sale but also of giving its shares away, possibly to a charitable trust.

A year ago the mining giant gave away its 19.1 per cent shareholding in Northern Dynasty, owner of the Pebble copper-gold project in Alaska, to two Alaskan charitable foundations.

Rio owns 53.38 per cent of the Papua New Guinea mine, closed by conflict in 1989, that still contains copper and gold worth more than $50 billion, as well as possessing a recently reconfirmed exploration licence.

The mine, which would cost an estimated $6.5bn or more to reopen, is also owned 19.06 per cent by the Papua New Guinea national government, and 27.36 per cent by other shareholders through its ASX listing.

In the current commodity environment, even the largest miners are not contemplating starting — or restarting — a massively expensive project at a stroke, preferring instead to work green-fields sites less ambitiously, gradually building up output.

Rio has waited patiently for its social licence to mine to be restored but despite the desire of the Bougainville Autonomous Government, under its president John Momis, to restore mining revenues — with no clear income alternative in sight — landowner issues have not been fully resolved.

And under new mining legislation passed by the Bougainville parliament recently, all resources are owned by traditional landowners, while the national government based in Port Moresby continues to insist that geological resources remain the property of the state.

Apart from Rio, there are few potential alternatives with the capacity to rebuild the mine, except for a handful of other international miners and some large Chinese corporations.

But the window of opportunity for an exit is looking reasonably favourable now, while the prospect for the medium to longer term appears more shaded.

The prospect of a change of leadership on Bougainville, with an election due there at the end of May, injects a note of potential uncertainty.

At the Port Moresby end, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is leading a government with rare political strength — and has the appetite for the state to run mines. But PNG’s history shows this may not last forever.

Mr Momis has warned Mr O’Neill to reveal any dealings with Rio.

The PNG Prime Minister confirmed that “we have had discussions with other shareholders of on a range of issues including the reopening of the mine and the disposal of shares by existing shareholders including Rio Tinto”. But, he added, “there are no secret deals”.

The Bougainville government’s concern was aroused by information it had received that law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, which works for Rio internationally, had received instructions to handle the sale of Rio’s shares. A Norton Rose spokesman decline to comment.


Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea