Barrick closes $298m Porgera JV deal with Zijin

A group photo of Porgera community women and men who say they were raped or violently abused at the gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corporation. Photo: Supplied

Porgera community women and men who say they were raped or violently abused at the gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corporation.

Henry Lazenby | Mining Weekly

The world’s largest gold producer by output Barrick Gold on Monday announced that it has closed a deal forming a strategic partnership with Zijin Mining Group.

The Chinese firm initially acquired a 50% interest in Barrick Niugini (BNL) for $298-million in cash.

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Proceeds from the transaction would be used to repay debt. Barrick had been dealing with high debt levels in a lower gold-price environment, selling various noncore assets to reduce its $12.9-billion in debt, having pledged to raise at least $3-billion for this purpose this year.

Canada’s Barrick was orchestrating a pull-back from operations in the southern hemisphere, having already sold four mines in Australia, as well as the PNG divestment. Last month, the company had also sold a 50% stake in the Zaldivar copper mine, in northern Chile, to Antofagasta for $1-billion.

It had also earlier in August struck a precious-metals streaming deal with Royal Gold, which has agreed to make an upfront cash payment of $610-million plus continuing cash payments for gold and silver delivered under Barrick’s 60% interest in the Pueblo Viejo mine, in the Dominican Republic.

BNL owned 95% of and managed the Porgera Joint Venture (JV) gold mine, in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The remaining 5% participating interest was held by Mineral Resources Enga and was divided equally between the Enga provincial government and local landowners.

Barrick and Zijin had also struck a long-term strategic cooperation accord that outlined both companies’ intentions to collaborate on future projects and joint investments, thereby, leveraging the strengths of each company.

In partnering with Zijin, Barrick was advancing two central objectives set out as part of the company’s ‘back to the future’ strategy. The first was to strengthen the company’s balance sheet; the proceeds from the transaction would be used to pay down debt. The second was to form strategic partnerships that would create long-term value for all stakeholders.

Under the new structure, Barrick and Zijin would jointly control BNL, and BNL would have a joint Barrick/Zijin board consisting of three Barrick nominees and three Zijin nominees. One party would nominate the executive MD, taking main responsibility for operations of the mine, and the other party would nominate the chairperson and the deputy MD.

Barrick noted that the current BNL management team would remain in place, with incumbent executive GM Greg Walker, nominated by Barrick as the first executive MD, while Zijin would nominate the first chairperson and deputy MD.

Zijin’s role in BNL’s management of the Porgera JV was expected to grow over time as the company gained experience operating in PNG.

Barrick’s share of gold output from the Porgera mine last year was 493 000 oz, at an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $996/oz. Attributable output was this year expected to range between 500 000 oz and 550 000 oz of gold, at AISC of $1 025/oz to $1 125/oz.

At the end of 2014, Barrick’s share of Porgera minerals comprised three-million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves and 4.1-million ounces of measured and indicated gold resources.

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Families of Bougainville’s missing continue their fight

missing bougainville panguna

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand

Almost twenty years since the end of the decade-long civil war on Bougainville, the fate of hundreds of people who went missing during the conflict remains unknown.

Their families marched through towns in the now-autonomous Papua New  Guinea region this weekend, saying more needs to be done to work out what happened to them and find their remains.

Jamie Tahana reports.

In the late 1980s, long-standing tensions over an Australia-run copper mine descended into a decade-long civil war for independence from Papua New Guinea. It was after PNG imposed a blockade on Bougainville in 1990 that Celine Pururau’s brother, Paschal, left to take up arms and join the conflict, compelled by what she says was a motivation to save Bougainville from being wrecked by mining and environmental destruction. She never saw him again.

CELINE PURURAU: We tried to stop him but he did not listen to us, he said that he had to sacrifice to save Bougainville, so he left and fought at Buka island and we don’t know whereabouts he is – he disappeared there. But they tell us the story that they buried him in a mass grave.

Ms Pururau’s situation is not unique. The International Committee for the Red Cross says many families in the region still have no idea what happened to some relatives during the war. The official end of the conflict was in 1997, when a ceasefire was signed after protracted efforts to negotiate a peace between the two sides. Estimates put the death toll from the conflict at about 15,000, but the ICRC’s Bougainville delegate, Tobias Koehler, says that nearly twenty years later, there’s still no idea just how many are missing.

TOBIAS KOEHLER: Simply there’s no data on this and there’s also, in terms of missing persons, no clear knowledge. But every time we come to a new district or we come to a new village and we talk about these issues people do come forward and mention this, so it’ll be at least more than 100, but it’ll probably be less than a couple of thousand.

Mr Koehler says many of the families of the disappeared have suffered psychologically as a result of the uncertainty.

TOBIAS KOEHLER: Basically their family members have no knowledge of their fate and their whereabouts, what has actually happened to them. If they are dead, if they have been killed or died of a disease. If they are buried at a certain place or their bodies are lost at sea. There are a lot of families who are completely left in the dark about the fate of their loved ones.

That uncertainty spurred Peter Garuai to form the Bougainville Families of Missing Persons Association. Mr Garuai says his 20-year-old brother, Benedict, joined the fight in 1993 and was killed later that year. He says his family has never heard what happened to Benedict.

PETER GARUAI: He was killed during the combat here in Arawa. The defence force killed him, but we’ve never known where he was buried. It was a dirty little war, here in Bougainville. I formed this association because of the pain that lingered in my mind that my brother, he has to come back. So this association tries to bring back normalcy to the lives of the missing people’s families.

The now Autonomous Bougainville Government, formed under the peace agreement signed at the end of the conflict, adopted a policy on missing persons late last year, but little has come from it so far. That’s prompted many of the relatives of the disappeared to march through the towns of Buka and Arawa this weekend in an effort to highlight their ongoing battle for answers, and to call for more to be done to ensure that remains are returned to home villages.

Peter Garuai says the government needs to take note of the families’ cries in order to build a foundation for a referendum on  possible independence for Bougainville, which is likely to be held in 2019. Bougainville’s president, John Momis, says he accepts that the ABG does need to do more to work out the whereabouts of the missing, but funding has been an issue.

JOHN MOMIS: The ABG first of all has to engage people who are in the know and also find funds to fund it because it won’t be done for nothing. I’m not saying it hasn’t been the top priority, we have had problems with the National Government giving us our legitimate financial budgetary allocations, and all these things have taken up our time.

John Momis says he hopes to work with the Red Cross and donor countries to make the missing persons policy more effective.

Bougainville government called on to find missing people

The chair of the Bougainville Families of the Missing Person’s Association says the region’s government needs to do more to find hundreds of people who disappeared during the civil war.

Nearly 20 years since the conflict in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region ended, the number of people who went missing remains unknown, but the Red Cross believes it could be in the hundreds.

This weekend, the association led a march through the towns of Buka and Arawa calling for more to be done to find out what happened, and to repatriate the remains to their home villages.

Its chair, Peter Garuai, whose brother Benedict went missing in 1993, says the government needs to do something ahead of a referendum on possible independence.

“Within the cultural context of Bougainville, the missing people will not be at peace until they return the bones back. And it is also very important for government to take into consideration the cries of the missing persons’ families, because if we don’t put them in their resting places, the government will have no foundation to form a proper government.”

The Autonomous Bougainville Government adopted a policy on missing persons late last year, but little has come from it so far.

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Fiji government tries to defend Namosi exploration

mineral resources

No Grounds To Reject Licence, Says Ps For Mineral Resources 

Maika Bolatiki | Fiji Sun

The Namosi Joint Venture (NJV) was given an exploration licence because there were no grounds to reject its application, says Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Tevita Boseiwaqa.

He was yesterday reacting to the claim by the Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee (TNLC) that they were not consulted on the issue of the licence.

TNLC co-chair Agavito Koroimanono told the media that there was no consultation made and they wanted NJV to stop the exploration on their land.

“The Prime Minister had once stopped the exploration and now they are still continuing with the agreement of the Minister for Lands and Minerals by renewing the exploration licence SPL 1420,” Mr Koroimanono said.

He said they were never asked to give their consent, so their voices weren’t heard.

See also:

Fiji landowners reject mining

Ninety-two percent oppose mining exploration

Mineral Resource Department has no respect for landowners

Mr Boseiwaqa however said when NJV applied for the renewal of the licence they had to follow procedures before the approval was made.

The Ministry of Land and Mineral Resources officers led by the Deputy Permanent Secretary and the director of lands had visited the villages to hear from the landowners themselves and they had given their support.

“Their voices were heard.”

They then made their technical verification and also certified the support on the ground.

He said they concluded that NJV had fulfilled all the requirements needed and there was no ground for them to reject the application.

“All the landowners gave their support.”

However, Mr Koroimanono maintained they had been ignored and demanded NJV to stop the exploration. He said they would now seek a meeting with the Prime Minister as they represented the majority of the landowners.

They were totally against mining in Namosi and wanted another type of development carried out on their lands earmarked for mining exploration.

He said as of yesterday they had received no replies to all their correspondences in regard to the issue and this included the Prime Minister’s Office.

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Protesters call for government action over missing people in Bougainville’s Arawa town

PHOTO: Protesters march in Bougainville over their missing relatives who were killed during the bloody civil war. (Supplied: Omarsharif Ghyasy/ICRC)

PHOTO: Protesters march in Bougainville over their missing relatives who were killed during the bloody civil war. (Supplied: Omarsharif Ghyasy/ICRC)

Stephanie Juleff | ABC News

More than 100 people, whose relatives vanished during the Bougainville civil war, have marched through the town of Arawa calling for action.

The Bougainville government adopted a policy on missing persons late last year, but so far it has only resulted in discussion.

AUDIO: More action urged to find remains of Bougainville civil war fighters (Pacific Beat)

Peter Garuai’s brother, Benedict, went missing 20 years ago after he was shot and killed when Papua New Guinea soldiers raided Arawa.

“I myself have lost my brother … he never came back. He was 20 years old when he joined the army but he was killed,” he said.

Mr Garuai does not know where his brother’s remains are.

Bougainville at the crossroadsThe repercussions from Bougainville’s civil war still echo in the lead up to a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea, RN’s Rear Window explains.

The International Committee for the Red Cross helped formulate the missing person’s policy, but said there had been little real progress since it was adopted early last year.

Its representative in Bougainville, Tobias Koehler, said people were afraid to talk about their missing relatives, fearing it could fuel more conflict.

“The people of Bougainville are very much attached to their land and the issue of bringing the bones back to the place where they belong, that is of tremendous importance,” he said.

“People have a tremendous belief in spirits, spirits of the dead.

“Often when the topic is broached, those spirits are not at ease, they are roaming and interfering with the lives of the living until the bones are brought to the place where they belong.”

Apart from the psychological impact, Mr Koehler said there were legal implications for people with missing relatives.

For instance, relatives of missing people cannot access their pension.

“Another issue is people may actually have the customary land titles challenged if they cannot show that their relatives have lived here for generations,” Mr Koehler said.

“Families are vulnerable to those titles being challenged and land means life here.”

The impact of the bloody civil war in Bougainville is still visible. Burnt down buildings remain without being reconstructed.

But Mr Garuai and other protesters remain hopeful the remains of the missing persons will be found.

PHOTO: Bougainville residents looking at public posters of missing people in the town of Arawa. (Supplied: Omarsharif Ghyasy/ICRC)

PHOTO: Bougainville residents looking at public posters of missing people in the town of Arawa. (Supplied: Omarsharif Ghyasy/ICRC)

Tom Kathoa | New Dawn

Families and friends of the missing persons in North Bougainville are organizing a gathering to remember those people who disappeared during the Bougainville crisis.

The International Day of the Disappeared is commemorated annually around the world by associates of families, national authorities and the World Red Crescent Movement.

Chairperson of the organizing committee, Mrs. Scholly Miriori is inviting those who lost their loved ones and others to attend this very special gathering.

Mrs. Miriori said this is a time to comfort the affected families in an effort to share their pain and lessen their burden.

Many of these people still do not know where the bodies of their loved ones are buried.

The event would take place at the Bel Isi Park on Sunday evening with traditional mourning, singing with a dawn service the following day ending with a sea burial on the Buka Passage at lunchtime.

Mrs. Miriori said similar gatherings would be conducted in Arawa.

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More on the Namosi landowners dispute with their government

namosi protest

Fiji: State grants lease

Sikeli Qounadovu | The Fiji Times

THE five-year extension of the Namosi Joint Venture Company’s special prospecting licence by the Government has drawn opposition from some landowners.

Two months ago, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama ensured Fiji and the Namosi landowners that the environment would always come first.

While there has been a strong opposition from the Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee (TLNC), Minister of Lands Mereseini Vuniwaqa confirmed “due diligence was carried out by Government prior to the renewal of the SPL”.

“This included environmental and social verifications,” she said.

“After these verifications Government was satisfied that the SPL could be renewed, hence the renewal.

“Extensive consultations were carried out by the ministry with the landowners in its quest to hear directly from landowners. These consultations were over and above our legal obligations for renewal but it was done because we wanted to know the stance of relevant landowners. We were also happy with the outcome of these consultations.”

However, the issue has caused divisions in villages with at least the mataqali Nabukebuke, whose land is being occupied by NJV, split on the extension of the licence.

NJV, who are prospecting for gold and copper in the Namosi area, had its operations suspended by Government, who were adamant the environment needed to be protected first.

The Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee (TNLC) is seeking the Primer Minister’s intervention to terminate the work being carried out by the Namosi Joint Venture (NJV).

TNLC secretary Ana Vulakoto claims 92 per cent of landowners have agreed for the termination of the special prospecting licence (SPL 1420) which was given by the Government to NJV in exploring minerals in the Namosi area.

Ms Vulakoto said since NJV started with its SPL 1420 operations, they had not received any environment impact assessment despite numerous requests.

“Our people have been living with the impact of prospective mining companies in our land for over 40 years. Our daily experience has taught us that the land of our forefathers is what that gives us life, not mining. The forest, the soil, the waterways, the air we breathe, provide for our people every day,” she said.

“All we are asking Government for is not to stress our environment. We have reached a stage we have become tired, disillusioned and frustrated with its plans to destroy our land.”

NJV land manager Netava Bakaniceva said the company was not aware of protests or grievances from the landowners and that there was no destruction to the environment as claimed by the landowners.

Meanwhile, according to the TNLC members a villager who was against the exploration of the land was yesterday arrested by police for setting up a roadblock.

Fiji Police Force spokesperson Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri confirmed that a man from Namosi was arrested by Navua police yesterday.

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Namosi Landowners adamant about mining

namosi protest

Pacific Network on Globalization via Loop PNG

The Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee (TNLC) today called on the Honorable Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to intervene in the ongoing dispute regarding exploration for minerals in the province of Namosi.

The call on the Prime Minister to intervene in the Namosi mining issue comes after7 years of considered negotiations between majority landowner interests, the mining company Namosi Joint Ventures (NJV) and the Department of Mineral Resources.

TNLC Co-Chair, Mr. Agavito Koroimanono today confirmed that they have offered to help the Fiji Government deliver it’s green growth strategy through the promotion of eco-tourism to take advantage of the natural beauty of Namosi such as camping, mountain villas, bird watching, cable cars for sightseeing of natural forest, famous bilibili ride from Namosi down to Nausori as well as mountain climbing.  In addition to undertake Government sponsored sustainable agricultural projects, and underground water bottling.

The offer to contribute to Fiji’s economic growth however does not include mining or sustainable mining said Co-Chair Agavito.

The call for the Prime Minister to intervene comes after the recent decision to renew SPL 1420 issued by the Minister for Mineral Resources Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa. She had renewed the extension for the exploration license 1420 without the knowledge nor the consent of the majority of the landowners of Namosi in what the TNLC is calling a serious breach of trust in ongoing negotiations.

“This is especially when the Honorable Minister has promised TNLC to inform them with the result of the consultation done by her Ministry which she has failed miserably to do,” Mr. Agavito said.

“TNLC have consistently demonstrated their good faith in negotiations with the respective department and the Minister responsible for mining by conducting extensive consultations and a secret vote to determine whether the extension for the exploration license should be terminated or granted.  The outcome of the secret vote within the Namosi Tikina, Tikina Wainikoroiluva and Tikina Waidina demonstrates an overwhelming support where 92% of the people voted for termination of the exploration license which the Minister responsible has chosen to ignore in her decision making process, said TNLC Co-Chair Agavito Koroimanono.

The majority decision for the termination of the exploration license comes after 47 years of history of experiencing the ill effects of exploration amongst the people of Namosi which TNLC have informed PM about back in 2012.  We have experienced firsthand what exploration for minerals means for our water systems, our livelihoods, our environment, and our culture, he said.

It is this experience which drives the majority of the people in Namosi through TNLC to stand up and support other forms of productive economic activities such as eco-tourism and agriculture to contribute towards Fiji’s economic growth.

TNLC believes that the GREEN ECNOMY is the world most important part in its ecosystem and without it the world plus man would collapse anytime. Engaging with sustainable development is another way of supporting the Government approach of preventing climate change, Mr. Agavito said.

Mr. Agavito stressed that TNLC value creation as it was the beginning of life. We believe and support that everything created was created for a special reason. Man should search for this only special reason in order to harmonize the purpose of why the Creator created it, he highlighted.

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International Day of the Disappeared: ICRC calls for more efforts to establish fate of missing from Bougainville conflict

International Committee of the Red Cross via New Dawn

Governments and civil societies around the world must do more to establish the fate and whereabouts of people who disappear in conflicts or other circumstances and give stronger support to the families left behind, the International Committee of the Red Cross has said.

Under international law, this obligation lies clearly with authorities and all former parties to the conflict. Today, many people in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB) are still asking questions about the fate of their loved ones who went missing during the Bougainville conflict more than 20 years ago.

“We want to know about the fate of our sons and brothers so that the families can find closure in their search for their loved ones. We also want the government to acknowledge the issue of missing persons in Bougainville,” said Chief Peter Garuai, Chairman of the Davoru Besi Family Association in Arawa.

“The issue of missing persons in ARoB is only just beginning to be recognised as a humanitarian priority in PNG by all stakeholders including both governments. There are still many needs to be addressed such as the practical problems and emotional suffering faced by the families of the missing persons.” ICRC Head of Mission in Papua New Guinea, Mr Gauthier Lefèvre, said.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government adopted a policy on missing persons in 2014, putting needs of families in the centre of the process, but it needs to be implemented. The National Government is in the process of creating their own policy that will help the process in Bougainville, once it is approved.

All issues related to accountability and compensation are excluded from the policy in Bougainville.

In dealing with the uncertainty that comes with missing relatives, families suffer in particular on an emotional and social level.They might experience isolation, sadness and marginalisation and often need long-term support in order to overcome these difficulties and regain control of their lives.

The disappearance of a loved one may leave the family disadvantaged, as customary land-titles depend to some degree on the proper burial of family members on their land.

To remember their loved ones, the families of the missing persons have organised events both in Arawa and Buka. These families chose the theme for this year which is ‘Still in Darkness and Waiting’.

On 28th August, the families will stage a silent march through Arawa, while in Buka at the Bel Isi Park, they will hold rituals beginning in the evening on 30th August through early morning of 31st August.

The support of ICRC in PNG includes the creation of Missing Persons Family Associations, supporting remembrance ceremonies, raising awareness in Bougainville and advising the authorities in ARoB and Port Moresby on how to address the issue of missing persons.

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