Company Boards still to approve Wafi-Golpu commitment

Hidden Valley

With their Hidden Valley mine unable to return a profit do Harmony and Newcrest really have the stomach for another JV?

Joint venture prepares for mining [really?]

Gedion Timothy | The National aka The Loggers Times | June 27, 2016

THE Wafi-Golpu Joint Ventures, since the announcement of the findings of its feasibility study, is focusing on preparing an environment impact statement and a special mining lease application.
General manager Sustainability and External Relations David Wissink said the impact statement and the mining lease application would be submitted to the Government after the approval of the Newcrest and Harmony boards before the start of the next phase of development.
“The proposed mine development is underground, targeting the rich Golpu copper-gold porphyry ore body. Feasibility study investigated the establishment of two block caves – block cave one BC1 and a deeper block cave two BC2  –  along with associated infrastructure, processing plant, roads, electricity, water management and port facilities,” Wissink said

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Assess environmental damages, Bulolo LOs tell Pacific Niugini

Bulolo township

Bulolo township

Joan Bailey | Post Courier | June 24, 2016

LANDOWNERS from Kusi village in Waria local level government, Bulolo District have appealed to Pacific Niugini Minerals and MGL Limited to sort out the environmental damage caused to their environment.

Chairman Simon James and his assistant Sakixy Kabre told Post-Courier that the two companies started exploration drilling for minerals at their village in 2010. They said the exploration work progressed really well with the developers excited with the results where evidence of gold, copper and silver was discovered only seven metres deep into the earth and of high grade.

Pacific Niugini exploration licences around Bulolo

Pacific Niugini exploration licences around Bulolo

“Due to the fact that we lack government services, we offered our land that is rich in minerals to the developers to be extracted and bring in developments into our villages in order to increase our living standard,” Mr James said.

However, Mr James said they were shocked that the PNM and MGL Limited just left in 2014 without any proper explanation given or conversation held with landowners on their reasons to cease work. He said until now, they are still awaiting the response from the two explorers on the future plan of the Kusi prospect and also environmental damage caused.

Mr James outlined the environmental damage included deep trenches cut into the earth of two to three kilometres, several drill beds created, large surface clearance where forest are cleared chasing away all forest habitat, landslides, destruction of kawiwi (betelnut) plantation, bringing water supply from the mountains to their campsite doesn’t have a proper drain and it flows free so its continuous flowing runs into food gardens causing soil erosion.

Mr James appealed to PNM and MGL Limited to immediately consult the Kusi prospecting area landowners and solve the issue with them.

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Experimental seabed mining… out of our depth

Mission Blue | June 23, 2016

Aliens finally made it to planet Earth. And it just so happens these aliens value — above all else — the American quarter, those shiny metal pieces emblazoned with George Washington. Upon surveying the planet, the aliens note that the highest concentration of quarters are located on Manhattan Island. So, they deploy enormous mechanical arms that raze New York City, destroying icons of culture and human achievement hundreds of years in the making. What’s left is rubble strewn with quarters, which the aliens methodically gather up and stockpile. The aliens congratulate themselves on the efficiency and handsome profitability of their operation.

If this sounds like an absurd manner in which to value one of the greatest cities on Earth, that’s because it is. And while this story is fantasy, sadly the same mentality is playing out now on the floor of the ocean. For the better part of a century, humans have scraped the ocean floor with massive trawlers that level hundred-year-old corals and destroy diverse and unknown ecosystems in the pursuit of a singular, short-term value, whether it be cod, squid or shrimp destined for a plate thousands of miles away. The UN Secretary-General reported in 2006 that 95 percent of damage to seamount ecosystems worldwide is caused by deep sea bottom trawling. Now, in 2016, a new threat is emerging to the benthic ecosystems deep within the blue ocean: deep sea mining. According to our partners at the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, “the focus of deep sea mining (DSM) is the deposits laid down over thousands of years around underwater hot springs, or hydrothermal vents. For example Nautilus, a DSM project in the Pacific has secured or is in the process of applying for the exploration rights to 534,000 km2 of the sea floor in PNG, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Zealand. In addition, many other companies are waiting to see how Nautilus fares before taking the plunge themselves.

DSM-infographic

The Deep Sea Mining (DSM) Campaign is an association of NGOs and citizens from the Pacific Islands, Australia, the US and Canada who are concerned about the likely impacts of DSM on marine and coastal ecosystems and local communities. The DSM Campaign started in late 2011 in response to the frenzy of sea bed exploration in the South Pacific. Approximately 1.5 million km2 of ocean floor is currently under exploration leasehold for deep seabed mining.  The world’s first license to operate a deep sea mine has been granted in the Bismarck Sea in Papua New Guinea to Canadian company Nautilus Inc. The DSM Campaign’s unique approach combines regional policy interventions, human rights, science based advocacy and working with local NGOs and community in PNG and the Pacific. 

seabed mining

Those quarter-loving aliens might have said, “What’s the big deal? We can’t see the harm here.” Indeed, that’s the same tune that DSM interests are humming: the upside is huge, environmental concerns are overblown, operations will be safe, what could go wrong? The truth is no one — neither oceanographers or DSM companies — know very much at all about deep sea ecosystems.

Remember, only 5% of the ocean has been directly observed by anyone. Some scientists believe that hydrothermal vents are where life first started on earth. If so, these environments and these ecosystems could provide insights into the evolution of life. This means that in the Pacific many species could become extinct before they have even been identified. And what about the potential toxicity of metals that will be released into the ocean water from DSM operations? Might they find their way into the food chain and contaminate seafood eaten by local communities? At the minimum, more study is needed to answer this basic and critical question.

Resource hungry nations are viewing Deep Sea Mining as the next gold rush. And momentum is building by the month. For example, check out these recent digital newspaper clippings:

Any observer to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe knows that corporations focused on profit from resource extraction cannot be relied upon to self-regulate for safety and responsible environmental stewardship. Deep Sea Mining is no different. Dr. Sylvia Earle has perhaps put it best: “It’s like a land grab. It’s a handful of individuals who are giving away or letting disproportionate special interests have access to large parts of the planet that just happen to be underwater. The vast expanses of the central Pacific seabed being opened up for mining are still largely an unknown. What are we sacrificing by looking at the deep sea with dollar signs on the few tangible materials that we know are there? We haven’t begun to truly explore the ocean before we have started aiming to exploit it.”

To join in the fight against Experimental Seabed Mining, sign the petition. Another good backgrounder is this Huffington Post article by Phil Pauley.

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

PanAust lodges special mining lease application for Frieda River

Will the Frieda river be the next PNG river destroyed by mining?

Will the Frieda river be the next PNG river destroyed by mining?

Mariaan Webb | Mining Weekly | 24 June 2016

China-owned PanAust has applied for a special mining lease for the Frieda River copper/gold project, in Papua New Guinea.

MD Dr Fred Hess said on Friday that the lodgement of the application represented a crucial milestone in PanAust’s pursuit of organic growth. “Since taking control of the project in 2014, PanAust has committed significant resources to complete the feasibility study and maintain a site presence, while engaging extensively with the government of Papua New Guinea and host communities,” he commented in a statement.

Last month, PanAust completed a feasibility study for Frieda River, which showed that the project would cost $3.6-billion to develop and that an additional $2.3-billion would be required over the life of the mine on development and sustaining capital.

The feasibility study contemplated a large-scale, openpit mining operation producing 175 000 t/y of copper and 250 000 oz/y of gold over 17 years.

PanAust had devoted 235 000 man-hours and invested $65-million to advance the project.

“The special mining lease application gives us a good platform to secure support for major shared-use infrastructure, which would benefit the project and the people of Sanduan and East Sepik provinces,” Hess said.

PanAust said that the development of the project would increase Papua New Guinea’s gross domestic product and export earnings, while providing a long-term boost to government revenues.

The project would provide a large number of jobs during construction and operation. During operations the project would require about 1 950 full-time equivalent positions.

PanAust manages the project and holds an 80% interest with Highlands Pacific owning the balance. Papua New Guinea has the right to buy a 30% equity interest in the project prior to the grant of a special mining lease. Should the State exercise its full entitlement, PanAust would sell down to a 55% controlling interest and Highlands would sell down to a 15% interest. 

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Barrick Once Again Ignores Human Rights Victims – Peaceful Protest Planned at Porgera Mine

porgera woman mining

MiningWatch Canada

 In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, a grassroots human rights group living in the shadow of one of the world’s largest gold mines is once again raising the alarm on behalf of human rights victims of the mine.

“Akali Tange Association Inc (ATA) has submitted 256 names of victims who have been shot death (sic), injured and raped by Barrick PJV Security Personnel,” reads a communiqué from ATA. ATA submitted the names to the mine’s grievance office in September 2015, and received a claims number, but there has been no progress on the claims. A peaceful protest to deliver a petition to the mine site is planned for June 24, 2015. 

After years of denial of excessive use of force by mine security and police guarding the Porgera Joint Venture mine, Barrick ran a compensation program at the mine site between 2012-2014 that eventually provided 119 victims of rape and gang rape by mine security with financial compensation in return for signing legal waivers.

“These women did not enjoy procedural fairness in the Barrick mechanism and did not have effective independent legal counsel,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, “they are now protesting the compensation they received as it is reportedly a quarter of what 11 rape victims in Porgera received who did benefit from international independent legal counsel.”

Furthermore, ATA and international observers, including MiningWatch, are aware of women who should have received compensation through Barrick’s mechanism and were either not aware of the now closed program or were wrongly turned away. There also have been further incidents of violent rape since the compensation mechanism closed down.

Additionally, the program Barrick put in place dealt narrowly with victims of sexual violence. The mine refers other victims of excess use of force by mine security, including those who have been maimed, and family members of those who have lost their lives, to a “grievance office” at the mine site. ATA notes that this office is not responding to claims the organization has submitted.

“Barrick cannot now return to its previous policy of denial in regard to these serious cases of human rights abuses by mine security and police guarding the mine,” says Coumans, “nor can Barrick wash its hands of these victims who were not included, or passed over, in the compensation mechanism for rape victims. The responsibility to provide remedy to victims of the mine’s operations is not restricted to those who pose the greatest legal risk to the company.”

See also: Letter from Akali Tange Association to Greg Walker, Managing Director of Barrick Gold subsidiary Barrick Niugini Limited, June 17, 2016 [pdf file]

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“World Class” Ramu Nickel Sacks Union Leader and All Union Members

MCC's tax free Ramu mine headquarters in Madang

MCC’s tax free Ramu mine headquarters in Madang

Bismarck Ramu Group

Ramu Nickel (MCC) Management continue with their oppressive abuse of Papua New Guinea workers. It appears if you speak out – and call the Chinese out for what they are and what they do – you have to go.

Justine Mende, the President of the Ramu Nico Allied Workers Union was recently sacked for – well for standing up for the rights of PNG workers and trying to insure they are treated with a bit more respect than they are getting from the Chinese management.

Obviously the Chinese are quite nervous about a person like Justine for after sacking him the MCC “management” began circulating a memo WITH HIS PHOTO letting people know that Justine is restricted to enter MCC’s operational and refinery sites and is to be arrested if he is found on those sites. They said he would be trespassing.

What the Chinese are really nervous about is that Justine continue to inform the workers of their rights and how they do not have to be take the nonsense from the kongs nor continually be disrespected by them. The workers are beginning to take heed of that message and the Chinese are rightfully worried.

So worried are the Chinese they have sacked MORE THAN 50 PNG employees since the High Pressure Acid Leach Auto Clave at Basamuk on 12 April.

In addition to the sacking of 50 PNG employees the MCC “management” has terminated ALL members of the Allied Workers Union.

And why is no one looking into this. Well we know don’t we. They’ve all been bought off and Jim Kas is too busy getting drunk with his lackeys at the Star International Hotel.

Justine is taking the matter to Court as well he should. The Chinese have no concept of what that means.

Keep it going Justine. Hopefully people in Madang will show the same spirit as the University Students and start standing up for whats right and not accepting the nonsense that the Chinese continue to deal out.

Stay tuned folks.

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Why Mining Corporations Love Trade Deals

A church was drowned by the tailing pond located a few kilometres from Rosia Montana village, where Canada’s Gabriel Resources wants to extract gold from an open-cast mine.

A church drowned by a tailings pond

Ben Beachy | The Huffington Post | 21 June 2016

From the salmon-spawning waters of Alaska to the cloud forests of Ecuador, communities are standing up to mining projects that threaten their health, environment, and livelihoods.

But mining corporations are fighting back with a powerful tool buried in trade and investment agreements: the ability to go to private, unaccountable tribunals and sue governments that act to protect communities from mining.

In these private tribunals, which sit outside of any domestic legal system, corporate lawyers – not judges – decide whether governments must pay corporations for halting destructive mining projects. To date, mining corporations have used these private tribunals to sue over 40 governments more than 100 times.

In two-thirds of the concluded cases, governments either have been ordered to pay the mining corporations or have settled with them, which can require handing over payment and/or weakening mining restrictions. In the 44 publicly available mining cases still pending, mining corporations are demanding over $53 billion from governments.

And it’s getting worse. In the first five months of this year, mining corporations used private trade and investment tribunals every 2.5 weeks on average to launch, advance, or win cases against mining restrictions in Latin America alone.

The U.S. is not immune from such challenges. In January, Canadian mining corporation Northern Dynasty Minerals threatened to sue the U.S. government in a private tribunal under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for rejecting a massive gold and copper mine in Alaska. Local indigenous groups and fishermen overwhelmingly opposed the project, given its threats to a watershed that supports half of the world’s population of wild sockeye salmon. Yet, Northern Dynasty alleges that the mine denial violated its broad NAFTA rights by frustrating its “expectations.”

We could see many more such threats to U.S. mining restrictions if Congress were to pass two looming trade deals: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Congress could consider this year, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). These two deals would newly empower more mining corporations – including three of the world’s six largest – to sue the U.S. government in private tribunals for rejecting dangerous mines.

Latin America knows this threat all too well. In March a private tribunal ordered Ecuador to pay over $24 million to Copper Mesa, a Canadian mining corporation, for terminating a copper mine project intensely opposed by local communities. The mine would have been drilled in a cloud forest, next to an ecological preserve recognized internationally for its biodiversity. The corporation responded by asking a private tribunal of three lawyers, under a Canada-Ecuador investment pact, to order compensation from the government.

Incredibly, the tribunal granted Copper Mesa’s request despite acknowledging that the corporation had responded to local opposition to the mine by “recruiting and using armed men, firing guns and spraying mace at civilians, not as an accidental or isolated incident but as part of premeditated, disguised and well-funded plans to take the law into its own hands.”

One might think that Copper Mesa’s case should be tossed out, given the corporation’s “premeditated” use of live ammunition against people protesting a mining project that threatened their communities and a nature reserve. Instead, the private tribunal merely reduced by $5 million the amount that it ordered Ecuador to pay the mining corporation. Indeed, the tribunal argued that the government, rather than backing the local communities, “should have attempted something to assist” the corporation it its efforts to fend off the protests.

Clearly, these trade and investment pacts prioritize foreign investors’ interests over local communities’ rights. In fact, Canadian-owned mining corporation South American Silver recently said just that in a pending private tribunal case. The corporation is demanding $386 million from Bolivia for revoking a silver mine project that, like Northern Dynasty’s rejected copper mine in Alaska, was strongly opposed by indigenous communities. In a recent submission to the tribunal, the corporation bluntly asserted that the broad rights it enjoys under an investment pact cannot be “degraded…in order to uphold the putative rights of indigenous communities.”

Just a few months later, U.S. corporation Tobie Mining and Energy launched a similar case against Colombia for protecting Amazon rainforest land where the corporation planned to mine for gold. Tobie claims that the government’s decision to create a nature reserve and prohibit mining within its borders violates the corporation’s broad rights under the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. 

Tobie is asking a private tribunal to order Colombia either to allow mining in the Amazon, or to pay $16.5 billion – over 25 percent of Colombia’s national budget – to the corporation. Despite admitting having spent only $11 million in mining-related preparations, Tobie justifies the $16.5 billion demand by claiming it’s what the corporation hypothetically could have earned if allowed to extract all the gold and iron believed to lie beneath the rainforest land.

This barrage of corporate attacks on mining safeguards offers a clear lesson: we cannot afford to empower more mining corporations to use private tribunals to undermine communities’ efforts to shut down dangerous mines. But the TPP – and TTIP, as proposed – would do just that. To respect communities’ rights to protect their air, water, and livelihoods, we need to replace these polluter-friendly deals with a new model of trade.

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