‘Catastrophic’ impact as Barrick sells assets

Jane Goldsmith | The Australian Mining Review

Porgera-gold-mine-tailings1-300x200BARRICK Gold has been hit by allegations of “irreparable” social, economic and environmental change as it flags intentions to offload a majority stake in the iconic Porgera mine, north-western Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Porgera landowners representative the Justice Foundation for Porgera (JFP) is seeking billions in compensation from Barrick Gold and its subsidiary Barrick Niugini, alleging that the venture breached agreements relating to environmental standards, the relocation of displaced landowners, and the number of fly in, fly out workers in the area.

In late February, Barrick and Barrick Niugini released a statement of intention to sell its PNG interests, which could offload any pending legal claims from landowners to potential buyers.

Mineral Resources Enga holds a 5 per cent share of Pogera in trust for the landowners with the Enga Provincial Government.

MRE chairman and director Kurubu Ipara said that Barrick intended to sell its interests without proper notice.

“[It will] exit PNG, leaving the landowners with a new owner who will not provide restitution for the damage left behind, or that MRE, the landowners or citizens of PNG will be left with an insurmountable bill to remedy the social and environmental damage,” he said.

The allegations against Barrick date back to 2011, after a Human Rights Watch report found Barrick Niugini mine guards had detained women found trespassing on the mine site and “gave them a choice of submitting to gang-rape or going to prison”, Mr Ipara said.

“Barrick has responded with dismissive hostility to concerns about its human rights record at Porgera,” the report stated.

MRE is a subsidiary of the government-owned Mineral Resources Development Company, which has battled allegations of corruption and mismanagement of its own.

Barrick’s move from PNG is a part of a greater debt reduction plan, which also includes the sale of assets in Australia.

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Jubilee Australia reveals flaws in new Bougainville Mining Law

In February, Jubilee Australia with Bismarck Ramu Group and the International State Crime Initiative wrote to Mr Stephen Burain, the Minister for Mining in the Autonomous Government of Bougainville, commenting on the Bougainville Mining Bill 2014 which was passed into law this week.

The analysis lays bare some of the flaws in the controversial new Act drafted by the World Bank and neo-liberal consultancy firm, Adam Smith International

Mr. Stephen Burain
Minister for Mining
Autonomous Government of Bougainville

Dear Mr Burain,

As part of our enduring commitment to the mine affected communities in the Panguna region we would like to comment on the Bougainville Mining Bill 2014 drafted by Adam Smith International at the direction of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

We gratefully received a copy of the draft mining legislation and regulations from the ABG in December. Our understanding is that the legislation is slated to be voted on in March. As the window is limited for commentary on the documents – which come to 508 pages in length – we have decided to enumerate below some preliminary feedback on the legislation, and the consultation process preceding its proposed approval by Bougainville’s parliament.

1)      Consultation and Independent Assessment

Given that the legislation will lead to the temporary alienation of customary land, with wide ranging effects on the social, economic, cultural and physical life of impacted communities, it is important that the draft mining bill and regulations are subject to a widespread and thorough process of consultation, discussion and independent scrutiny, as affirmed in international treaties, as a principle of international law, and in international best-practice reporting. As the final draft of the mining bill was delivered during November by Adam Smith International, it would seem appropriate to allow a significant period for consultation and revision, in order to give communities across Bougainville adequate time to organise themselves, seek independent expert advice, discuss the legislation, and prepare their response. While a prolonged consultation period would not be appropriate for all draft bills, given that mining has historically been a highly contentious issue on Bougainville, building a legislative framework over which all communities feel a sense of ownership is vital. Coupled to this, the legal complexity of the draft mining bill and associated regulations, make such a prolonged consultation period necessary, so that communities are afforded the time and space to appreciate all the relevant provisions and their long-term implications.

2)      Financial Support to Impacted Communities

It is important that financial resources are made available to those communities who reside on or near mineral resources that are likely to be affected by the bill in the foreseeable future, so they may acquire independent expertise to help them evaluate the draft and share their concerns with the ABG. It is critical that communities are empowered to choose their own sources of independent expert advice, while observing relevant good governance procedure.

3)      Free, Prior and Informed Consent

More specifically on the contents of the draft Bougainville Mining Bill 2014, in light of mining’s contentious history on Bougainville it is especially important that the legislation should encompass best practice with respect to free, informed, prior consent, and echo the standards set out in key international covenants including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and ILO Convention 169. In this respect we would like to highlight a number of preliminary concerns to take into consideration:

A. Access to Information

In order to conform to best practice the legislation must empower traditional landowning communities by inscribing them with a number of positive rights, including the right to access independent sources of information and expert advice, coupled to a right to receive adequate financial support to seek this advice. By independent sources of information and expert advice, we mean recognised experts who are not linked with the extractive industries or government, whether it be through position or financially, and who can be relied on to act in the best interests of the contracting community. It is concerning that the current draft bill does not appear to afford communities these fundamental positive rights.

B. Independent Community Consultation

There needs to be more robust mechanisms included in the bill assuring the comprehensibility and independence of the community-consultation process, preceding a mine’s initiation. As it stands, the bill places responsibility on mining companies holding an exploration license or mining lease to develop and enact community engagement plans. While mining companies, of course, have a legitimate place in the consultation process, it is essential that the plan and strategy is implemented by an independent arms-length organisational actor, with an overarching responsibility to act in the best interests of landowners and the public.

C. Inclusive Consent Processes

More robust measures of consent should be set out in the bill which ensure a clear majority of adult aged landowning community members, whose social, economic, cultural and physical life will be seriously impacted by the project, support the venture, after receiving comprehensive, independent advice on the project’s economic, social, cultural and economic impacts. At the moment, a landowner association approved by the Bougainville Executive Council, can consent to exploration licences and mining leases on behalf of the communities they represent. In light of historical examples in Bougainville, there is serious risk that without further safeguards landowner associations will not be inclusive of vulnerable groups and customary leaders, particularly if association processes and procedures are in a language and cultural form which are inaccessible to a large section of the affected population. Therefore, this current model does not appear to offer a robust mechanism for assuring community-wide participation in the consultation process or when measuring consent. We believe the legislation needs to adopt more robust mechanisms for measuring consent that ensure mining projects are supported by a clear majority of adult-aged landowning community members, whose social, economic, cultural and physical life will be seriously impacted by the project, after receiving comprehensive, independent advice on the project’s economic, social, cultural and economic impacts. It should also include measures that help communities build cooperative, culturally inclusive organisational frameworks that will empower them to participate in the consultation and negotiation process.

D. Access to Remedy

There need to be independent grievance and accountability mechanisms inscribed into the legislation that empower communities to seek remedies for abuses of rights or legal procedure, whether by a private or governmental actor. This grievance mechanism and body must be at arms-length from all mine stakeholders. Currently no such mechanism exists in the draft bill.

E. Human Rights Due Diligence

The draft bill needs to include robust human rights standards that mine operators must observe or face serious sanction, with remedies in place for violations of these standards. Not only have mining operators on Bougainville participated in human rights abuses, this behaviour may also be witnessed across Papua New Guinea. Currently the bill does not offer a robust framework for addressing this enduring issue.

As you will appreciate, these comments are based off a preliminary reading of the draft bill. Nonetheless, we hope you find this feedback useful, and we welcome a continuing conversation on the issues raised within.

With sincere regards,

Brynnie Goodwill, CEO Jubilee Australia

Co-signed: Bismarck Ramu Group
Co-signed: International State Crime Initiative

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Critics slam new Bougainville mining law as ‘forgetting history’

Aloysius Laukai | Pacific Media Watch

A file picture of the Bougainville parliamentary House. Image: Radio New Dawn FM

A file picture of the Bougainville parliamentary House. Image: Radio New Dawn FM

The controversial Bougainville Mining Bill has been passed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government parliament and has been immediately condemned by critics as “forgetting history”.

The bill went through the thrd reading to become a Bougainville law yesterday.

It has been adopted in spite of all the negotiations and dissatisfaction expressed by factions of the communities throughout Bougainville.

The bill did not go unchallenged but was forced to go through scrutiny by former combatants who demanded certain sections to be removed before they could allow the government to finally pass the bill.

At the time of the passing of the bill, the House was full to capacity as people witnessed the passing of the bill.

The member for Central Bougainville and Minister for Communication in the Papua New Guinea National Government, Jimmy Miringtoro, told Radio New Dawn FM from Port Moresby that he was not happy that the ABG had rushed this bill through on the eve of the ABG general elections.

He said the ABG should have left the bill to the next government after more scrutiny from all stakeholders on Bougainville.

Miringtoro said that pushing the bill through was “not proper” as other outstanding issues were still not yet resolved on the future of mining on Bougainville.

‘Still in dark’

He said that from the beginning he had warned the ABG against the bill, especially when the people were “still in the dark” about how they might lose their rights form their land and resources forever.

The minister also also said that the bill had been written by “outsiders” like Adam Smith International which had been involved in controversial development policies in the Third World.

It was unfortunate the government did not “listen to the cries of the citizens”, Miringtoro said.

The Australian-based Bougainville Freedom Movement also criticised the passing of the law

It challenged a speech by Bougainville President John Momis yesterday when he was quoted as saying: “With our new mining bill, we are completely rejecting that terrible past,” referring to the decade-long civil war over the Panguna copper mine and the envronmental degradation.

“Does this mean that President Momis is forgetting his own history and the shocking history of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in its mining operations on Bougainville and what the mining company did to the people of Bougainville and the environment?” said BFM in a statement.

“It is a ‘terrible past’ and will not be forgotten but it should not be ‘rejected’.”

Not once had the BCL or Rio Tinto mining companies ever apologised or compensated the people of Bougainville for the environmental devastation it caused and the “extremely wicked atrocities it inflicted on the people of Bougainville”, said BFM.

The writs for the election were due to be issued by the Speaker, Andrew Miriki, later today.

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Global mining companies never stop bullying indigenous peoples

After losing in court, a giant mining corporation is bullying a indigenous Peruvian farmer in a fight to turn her land into an open-pit gold mine

peru

This is the women who scares a $10 billion corporation. Máxima, an indigenous Peruvian farmer, has been fighting against corporate bully Newmont Mining for months.

SumOfUs

The world’s second biggest gold mining corporation is at war with an indigenous Peruvian farmer.

Máxima Acuña de Chaupe has been fighting for years to save her land and her community. Newmont Mining is determined to destroy both for a massive, open-pit gold mine — which would drain four mountain lakes in an arid farming region.

Newmont Mining has already lost in court to Máxima, and her land should be safe. But now Newmont-backed security officers have invaded Máxima’s house and destroyed part of it.

Máxima is strong, but she needs our support to win against Newmont’s aggressive bullying tactics. If hundreds of thousands of us speak out now and tell the mining giant that we are watching Máxima’s back, the corporate bully may finally back off. Will you send a message to ensure Máxima’s safety?

Tell Newmont to stop its attacks against this indigenous female farmer and respect the court’s ruling.

This isn’t an isolated incident with this corporate bully. With operations on five continents, Newmont been accused of polluting the environment, damaging natural habitats, impacting the health of local communities, corruption, and bribery in locations around the world from Nevada to Indonesia.

These unethical business practices can’t continue. The courts have already called for an end to this harassment, and by standing behind Máxima we can finally make Newmont listen. We are teaming up with our friends at Earthworks to speak out against this corporate bully. This strategy has worked before — together with Earthworks, we convinced another multinational mining company, Rio Tinto, to drop its investment in what would have been the biggest gold mine on earth — a mine that would have destroyed half of the world’s sockeye salmon population.

Máxima has been fighting against this corporate bully for months. Let’s speak out now to let her know that she is not alone in this fight.

Sign the petition to Newmont Mining, demanding that the corporation leave Máxima and her neighbors in peace!

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Bougainville Freedom Movement questions new Mining Act

Bougainville Freedom Movement 

Like Mr Jimmy Miringtoro, Member for Central Bougainville and Minister for Communication in the Papua New Guinea National Government, the Bougainville Freedom Movement (Australia) are also wondering why the ABG have passed the Bougainville Mining Act 2014, “when the people are still in the dark of this bill that could take away their rights form their land and resources forever”.

The Bougainville Freedom Movement (Australia) is concerned with the speech President Momis gave today, 26 March 2015, where he says:

“With our new Mining Bill, we are completely rejecting that terrible past.”

Does this mean that President Momis is forgetting his own history and the shocking history of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in its mining operations on Bougainville and what the mining company did to the people of Bougainville and the environment?

It is a “terrible past” and will not be forgotten but it should not be “rejected”.

Not once has Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) or Rio Tinto mining company ever apologised or compensated the people of Bougainville for the environmental devastation it caused and the extremely wicked atrocities it inflicted on the people of Bougainville.

We received an email from New Zealand today about the new Mining Bill which says, “With the  bill being written by an outfit named after Adam Smith the right wing economist (“The hand of God” (rules the economy)) you can imagine what rights the people will have!”

Whilst it does not surprise us that BCL have probably paid bribes to the Autonomous Bougainville Government to pass the Mining Bill, it also makes sense knowing that Rio Tinto and Bougainville Copper Limited think more of their companies, their shareholders and their profits.

  • The Rio Tinto AGM is on 16 April 2015 in London, England.
  • The Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) AGM on 29 April 2015 in Port Moresby.
  • The Rio Tinto AGM on 7 May 2015 in Perth, Australia.

It is perfect timing for the ABG to pass the Bougainville Mining Act 2014, so now Bougainville Copper Limited and Rio Tinto mining can let their shareholders know how they can now continue to fill their greedy pockets with money taken from the poor and underpriveleged people on Bougainville.

Let us remember how Bougainville Copper Limited treated the people of Bougainville from the time it found gold and copper, started the Panguna mine , created environmental devastation and killed an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 people on Bougainville when the people decided to stop the Panguna mine from operating.  LEST WE FORGET.

Look what President Momis has written  and please note where it has been published…. The Bougainville News website…. supported by the pro-mining lobby and Bougainville Copper Limited.

MOMIS: “Ultimately, the main reason why we in Bougainville are considering allowing large-scale mining again is because we need revenue to advance or development. WE lack even the most basic acceptable standards in essential services, like health and education. WE lag behind the rest of the world. Without significant ABG revenue, that situation will never change.”

FACT: “There is little evidence to demonstrate where mining has had a positive effect on peoples’ levels of poverty or indeed ‘lifted’ people out of poverty.”  (AidWatch)

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Bougainville Mining Act is covered in the sins of the father

As we expected, they did it, in secret and through bribery, but the Bougainville Mining Bill is passed. The foreign mining interests are already pumping their fists, and have been parading triumphant press releases, trying to contain their glee as they tell Bougainvilleans ‘you are free now’ (knowing the opposite to be true).

Yet the ‘legislation’ is dirty, covered in the sins of its fathers.

It is covered in the bad breath of the World Bank and Adam Smith International, institutions set up to dispossess indigenous people and customary landowners, so the markets can ravage their land and environment.

It is corrupted by the heavy hoof of the Australian government, whose high priced intellectuals have tried to sell the unsellable to an unconvinced population.

It is thick in the foul of bribery, as money was given out in large amounts to MPs to pass the bill.

It will now be a criminal offence in Bougainville to pull up marker pegs, or to oppose the grilled teeth of bulldozers, because someone, somewhere signed a document – someone you may not even know, but approved by the ABG to speak on behalf of ALL landowners. Consent can now be given by .1% of the landowning population on behalf of the other 99.9%. That is mining democracy.

If you have a problem with the mining company, and the consultation process, who do you have a right to complain to? The mining company, who are charged with responsibility for overseeing informed consent and adjudicating on community grievances.

The land has been given to the foreign elite, who will pour over Bougainville’s riches with sweaty desire, ravaging futures so a few speculators can get rich, quick.

But dirty bills, passed by dirty means do not have the respect of the population. They are not laws, they are pieces of paper, written by foreign corporations, and raised through bribery. This type of filthy document will not be respected.

What we now have a recipe for is conflict and insecurity, as a government attempts to force mining on populations with a law they never read, or consented too. People will resist.

Momis may celebrate, but he may have just unleashed a rot that will destroy his legacy.

 

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Lima Mullung & others fetching bones from the dog, MCC

While the Basamuk people are arguing with the Chinese miners at MCC over the ‘tonnes of toxic chemical’ spill at Basamuk Bay in Madang Province, Lima Mullung, the said Basamuk Landowners Association Chairman got on an MCC boat and ran off to town.

Now Lima here is suppose to be the people’s mouthpiece but he’s been the opposite, the Chinese’ mouthpiece to the people ever since he became ‘it’, so the people’s cries this time are again falling on deaf ears. He’s been living in a house and is driving a maroon land cruiser used as bait by the Chinese to keep him on their leash. He’s never at the village and when he’s in Basamuk, he’s at the mine site with the Chinese and not at the village with the people.

Lima Mulung, remember him? The dog on MCC’s leash? Turns out he likes it that way and there are more dogs like him. We’ll get to these other dogs, you may know others too but let’s start with Lima here.

Poor Lima is ‘the’ puppet selected by the Chinese miners’ ultimate ‘Puppet System’ called the ‘Landowner Association. This is so that being the only one, a chairman, his strings can be easily pulled, stretched or twitched anytime and anywhere.

Sadly, what Lima doesn’t know is that the puppet master can easily cut off those strings anytime. Now puppet masters being foreigners are one thing but the puppet master here being the ‘Foreign MINER’? PHEW! For sure they’re not here to help you Lima or any other Papua New Guineans for that matter, they’re here to MINE, as much as they can.

Now in order to get as much as they can with little or no interruptions, they need a lot of dogs, lots and lots of dogs as many as possible to guard them, and that’s where Lima Mulung here comes in, the Community Affairs offices, the police officers, the Department of Environment and Conservation officers, the Mineral Resource Authority officers, the local MPs, the Ministers and many more that you may know of.

Let’s say dogs because dogs beg for the rest of their lives but only end up getting a bone from their masters, despite how painfully they carry out their tasks faithfully. Now that, is exactly what those mentioned above are doing, cleaning up the Chinese miner’s filthy mess on all fours for just a piece of bone.

The sad fact is, that all these people who are currently dogs to the Chinese miner, should be the masters. They should be the ones to hold onto the pigs and tell the miner who is ‘the dog’ to fetch the bone whenever they feel like, but they choose to let their foreign miner friend come into their country, sit on their throne, and while they clean up the filthy mess below the throne and beg on all fours with saliva dripping mouths, ‘it’ gets their pigs and throws them a bone to fetch. Can you picture that? A dog on a throne feeding its masters a bone?

You see the Chinese miners are currently on a tax holiday of 10 years! Wow! They obviously had to get as much as possible from the ground, and I’m not talking about only nickel and cobalt here, I mean anything and everything, even fresh water, as much as possible from the ground before the 10 years end.

By the way just a reminder, taxes pay for the basic services that Papua New Guineans, YOU need like health, education and other infrastructures but, you’re not getting any from these ‘developers’, the Chinese miners.

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