PNG government employs top international law firm against its own people

The Mineral Resources Authority, a PNG government agency created in 2005, has engaged one of the regions largest law firms, Allens Arthur Robinson, to defeat a case brought by a group of indigenous landowners worried by the potential environmental impacts of the new Ramu nickel mine.

Allens Arthur Robinson employs more than 1,500 lawyers in 14 offices across Australia and the Asia region and boasts that 45 out of the world’s largest 100 companies are clients.

In contrast, indigenous landowners in PNG are some of the poorest in the world with 60% living below the international poverty line and PNG ranking a lowly 148th out of 180 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. For example indigenous people in PNG suffer from maternal mortality rates which are some of the highest in the world at 773 deaths per 100,000 live births and more than 500 people die unnecessarily every year from maleria.

The MRA says that its vision is “to improve the lifes of Papua New Guinean’s through responsible managment of the nations mineral resources” and its goals include “encouraging the participation of local people” and “ensuring optimal benefits for the people”.

If this vision and goal are to be believed then the MRA should explain why it is using the peoples money to pay the huge costs  of hiring Allens Arthur Robinson to defeat a claim by indigenous landowners who say they have not been consulted on the Ramu nickel mine’s submarine tailings disposal plans which will see 100 tons of mine waste dumped in their seas; have not agreed to the dumping; and do not believe it will not have a negative impact on their environment.

Who is the PNG government trying to protect here? The indigenous people of PNG or the Chinese State owned company that is developing the Ramu mine?

And if the landowners case has no merit as the mining companies claim why is it necessary to waste money PNG tax payers money on an Australian law firm?

Are the MRA and the Somare government just the puppets of the Chinese State?

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24 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights, Uncategorized

24 responses to “PNG government employs top international law firm against its own people

  1. dexter bland

    “In contrast, indigenous landowners in PNG are some of the poorest in the world with 60% living below the international poverty line and PNG ranking a lowly 148th out of 180 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. For example indigenous people in PNG suffer from maternal mortality rates which are some of the highest in the world at 773 deaths per 100,000 live births and more than 500 people die unnecessarily every year from maleria.

    It is good to see you acknowledge these human issues for a change, though you haven’t yet identified mining as part of the solution to these problems. Of course indigenous landowners should share in the benefits of mining, as should the wider nation. However if there is no mining then there is nothing to share, and the government is right to defend the common good as best they can.

    I have pointed out before that there is a lot more at stake here than just this one mine. This issue immediately threatens a second new project (Marengo Mining’s Yandera), many that are under consideration, and potentially even some established ones (e.g. Lihir Island). This is a lot of government revenue potential that may be foregone and a lot of indigenous landowners who will also miss out.

    Lets hope that aside from spending money on lawyers, some is also spent on scientific investigation of the DSTP proposals. An environmentally sound solution is also in the interests of the mining companies.

  2. Fed up

    dexter bland.

    we have a lot more leverage to properly develop our country than you can even begin to imagine. mining is not the be all and end all.

    our low human development indicators have been brought about by the very issue this website and others are fighting – CORRUPTION and wastage.

    do you think more new mines will automatically eliminate corruption? no way in your entire lifetime! if corruption is not addressed, all moneys that PNG makes from its mines will end up dissipating into thin air. and a good chunk of that will end up in australia – we are not here to make australia rich, thankyou.

    go back and read in between the lines and you will realise that the crux of the issue here is the fight against corruption (in this case corrupt dealings by the Chinese and faceless PNG officials). this is not a fight against mining activities in this country. far from it.

    this is a fight for SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT in PNG.

    • dexter bland

      Fed Up,
      You have to accept that some of the profits from mining will go to foreigners as PNG neither has the capital nor the expertise to develop mines entirely on its own. PNG government, provincial governments and local landowners do take direct stakes however, and there are many indirect stakes through jobs, tax revenues and secondary effects to local businesses. But this is how the global economy works, even Australia needs foreign investment to develop mines, and much of this comes from China.

      I am well aware that PNG has problems with corruption and inequitable distribution of the proceeds of mining. These are important domestic issues for PNG but investors need to deal with a single national authority and assume they make decisions for the country. They can’t deal with every interested individual so its up to the people to ensure they have the right government through elections.

      In any case I am confident that these concerns will dissipate as economic growth picks up and money begins to flow through to a much broader section of society. More government revenue also means more money for administrative and judicial institutions and a higher standard of governance.

      There will be haves and have-nots for some time but at some point the former will start to outnumber the latter. Recently a new airport was announced, highway upgrades, education facilities all as a result of the LNG project. You can expect to see a few more foreigners around but plenty of opportunities for enterprising locals to make money from them and improve their skills.

      From what I read in PNG newspapers there seems to be a sensible and mature discussion about how to ensure the benefits flow through to the broader community. I don’t believe the system is as hopelessly stacked against small landowners as you make out and is only going to improve as money begins to flow in.

      • Fed up

        dexter bland,

        you seem to make some sense here but it sounds more idealistic than realistic to me.

        all is not as rosy on the ground as you are misled to believe. it is a fallacy to even imagine that corruption and abuse of public funds will dissipate as more money becomes available in the local economy. in fact, by all accounts, it will be the other way around.

        you need to understand what gave rise to the scrutiny that this chinese mine is now made to face before jumping to its defence. they rort our system and we WON’T allow that to happen in our country. NOT ANYMORE!

        the priority for us now is to fight corruption and these poor souls at this mine are just one of the many to be made examples of.

  3. John Witherspoon

    Australia left PNG in pretty good shape.
    35 years later the Nation is struggling to remember just how good it was back then.
    Still, its poor form indeed to accuse Australians of robbing PNG citizens when the tax payers of Australia pump in excess of 1.5 billion dollars (Aust) as direct and indirect aid to PNG every year.
    Poor form indeed.

    • Fed up

      OK but do you have an idea of how much goes the other way in ‘dirty money’? do you know how much of PNG capital is siphoned off to australia in investments by corrupt individuals (both PNG and foreign nationals)? can australia set up a mechanism to scrutinise the inflight of foreign capital and blacklist those from questionable sources?

      And how much of your $1.5 billion is actually spent to help PNG and how much of it boomerangs back to you?

      australia and the west left PNG in a very confused state and expected us to make the leap, which your ancestors made in thousands of years, in just one decade. and you still expect us to. that is unfair. we are just finding our way around and we will develop our country our way, not your way or anyone esle’s.

      • Tuffunay_the_ambulance_chaser

        hey, you can’t blame Australia for PNG citizens tendancy to criminality.
        Why should Australia solve all of PNG’s social problems?
        You need to look at what you are saying.

      • Fed up

        Tuffunay shit shit.

        autralians MUST stay right out of PNG issues if they/you want some respect from us. they are as much to blame for some of our problems, not the least of which is their boomerang aid, and we don’t want to listen to them anymore.

        they’ve bought their way (using the 1.5 bn dollar argument0 into forcing the ridiculous OBE education system on us and it is NOT working. who knows what other shit they’ll buy their way into telling us next.

  4. Khomkai

    A very large amount of money and human effort was spent by MRA and DEC over the period 2001-2010 on extensive and highly professional and independent environmental reports re DSTD and Ramu.
    This is a fact that Tiffany Nongoor must admit to.
    It’s strange that you simply assume this was not the case.
    I think MRA is compelled to spend money on lawyers because of their duty to the peoples of PNG and not by the utterly ridiculous assertion that some how they want to quash the position of a very few plaintiffs.
    By the way Tiffany presents her case to the public one might think that there was a huge groundswell against the project, far from it.
    Ramu Nico have performed better than most other project operators, if not in an exemplary manner, and have certainly displayed a very sincere commitment to social issues in the community around Madang and the advancement of the peoples of Medan and it region.
    But what would the readers on this hysterical we page ever know of that, Ms Tiffany would certainly never admit to that truth.
    She is far too busy chasing ambulances and the “pot of gold”.
    Frankly, Tiffany will stop at nothing to promote her self and the NGO’s behind this litigation (step out of the shadows Mr. C. Roach) , even at the cost of the potential benefit the project will bring to Madang province.

    • Tiffany

      khomkai – an alias – but it’s OK to defame me ! You incipid coward, you have completely no idea what you are talking about – try this for size people
      (1)the project was asleep between 2001 and 2006 and no reports were done – the only reports have been done by one marine consultant paid for by mining companies under different consultant company names – so it LOOKS like lots of different reports – but they are really only by one guy.

      (2)The fact remains that there has NEVER been an independent environmental impact assessment done.

      (3) You complete idiot, neither DEC or MRA to date have spent one toea on independent environmental impact assessment – certainly you should know MRA couldn’t because the authority wasn’t even operational until 2006

      Get your facts straight and come out from beyond your pathetic alias.

      The fact remains DSTP is effectively banned in Aust, Canada and US – but somehow, idiot, you think it is OK in PNG. Have a look at the coral triangle initiative website and see that our prime minister signed the declaration to limit sediment from shore development entering into our coral rich waters – WHY – because land sediment – particularly non-organic kill coral.

      You and your bunch of idiots try and pretend that there is some green conspiracy going on – which is comlete rubbish – but what you can’t ignore is the weight of INDEPENDANT (and not mine funded) evidence that DSTP or STD is BAD for the marine environment.

      Conatct George Ireng on Facebook – a Rai Coast felow – which you obviously are not and see for yourself the thousands of Rai Coast people who are against the tailings dumpings…but then why ruin your good story by the real facts, “khomkai”

      • Tuffunay_the_ambulance_chaser

        Tiff,
        Sorry, you appear to me to be a bit unprofessional given the agreement to maintenance you reached with Charles Roach and cynical manipulation of uneducated pliable nationals, but apparently you have a history of that sort of conduct.
        I would not want to be in your shoes in a few weeks time when the full court deals with Justice Cannings wierd and newly invented doctrine of “safety first” which, as you know, has no place in the Common Law.
        For that matter is is doubtful if Canning J has much of a future as a Judge (he’s not a real Judge anyway, real Judges are appointed for life, he’s just on a short stay commission and it pretty much looks like the end of the road after his utterly disgraceful conduct in Kimbe, according the all reports.
        As for your representation to the court that your clients could honour their undertakings as to damages (yes, I do read court transcripts, supplied through a friend in Brisbane), I guess that is some thing that in due course will come back to bight you.
        You forgot to mention the CSRIO report.
        But that would not be a convenient admission given that your entire position is based on the support of alien NGO’s who seek to oust chinese investment.
        Racist that you are.

      • Tuffunay_the_ambulance_chaser

        You and Charles are heading for a buster………

      • Tuffunay_the_ambulance_chaser

        DSTD isa not “banned” in Western Australi, the Nothern Territory, or South Australia
        Tiff, you really are a B.S. artist.

      • Jim D

        Ms. Nonggorr – You’ve nailed Khomkai. Let me know how I can contact you and I’ll tell you who he is. You’ll laugh. Another suck ass to the companies.

      • dexter bland

        I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be interested to see the report from the Scottish Association for Marine Science regarding DSTP, as this at least has some degree of independence. Another study is currently being undertaken by Coffey (who are well respected) on behalf of Marengo Mining.

        The reason that miners are keen on DSTP in PNG is that (unlike the other countries you mention) the shelf drops very rapidly off the coast of PNG and the sea quickly reaches a great depth (Besamuk Bay is a possible exception to this but you need to look at the submarine geography in detail). On the other hand the country is prone to seismic activity and has heavy rainfall, which make land based tailings risky (as with Ok Tedi) and expensive to manage.

        DSTP makes a lot of sense for PNG in general, but each installation needs to be looked at on its own merits.

  5. Fed up

    Good try again Khomkai.

    I am a regular traveller on the Lae Madang highway and I can tell you point blank in your face that the pipeline they are building is bloody ridiculous. I am not an engineer and it still beats my common sense to see the ‘engineering masterpiece’.

    “Ramu Nico have performed better than most other project operators, if not in an exemplary manner, and have certainly displayed a very sincere commitment to social issues in the community around Madang and the advancement of the peoples of Medan and it region.” What utter nonsense based on what I have just said above!

    And who cares about how little money MRA has already spent? I pay my taxes and I am happy to let the government steal more from me. But not from the villagers.

    You didn’t even come close. Can’t measure up to Tiffany Nonggor. Thanks for the laugh.

    • Tuffunay_the_ambulance_chaser

      Fed Up,
      Your problem (or should I say one of your problems) is that you allow yourself to be misled.
      I have seen the housing scheme put in place by Ramu Nico,
      Have you?
      Yes, I have seen the pipeline.
      Yes, I have met a lot of locals in Medang with jobs at the Ramu project, and there will be a lot more employment in a few months.
      Notwithstanding your apparent servile sycophantic adulation of Tiff she is nothing special, and a joke in legal circles.
      She only managed to get her injunction because Justice Canning does not know the Law, (he is so fundamentally a failed as a jurist, really).

      • Fed up

        Tuffunay shit shit.

        How dare you attack a judge of the national and supreme courts. Suck eggs, loser!

        And Madang is spelt M-a-d-a-n-g.

        We don’t need to be bribed with a ‘housing scheme’.

  6. Jim D

    Dear Ms. Nonggorr – you have nailed it with Khomkai. He’s even worse than you think. How can I contact you to let you know who he is. You’ll laugh actually

    • Tiffany

      Dear Jim and all

      tnonggorr@yahoo.com

      no doubt he is an expatriate that lives in POM that drinks too much and then blogs

      CSIRO report is a baseline study not an environmental impact assessment.

      The transcripts of the hearings have not even been typed yet – in PNG they are only typed after an appeal has been filed, not every day like in Australia – they will be typed shortly though

      Mr anonymous needs to be careful about defaming judges – saying nasty things about me is one thing (I’m an easy target because I don’t hide behind an alias – and it gets everyone’s minds off the real issue – the dumping) but saying nasty things about sitting judges is another – he can be traced through this website no doubt and to publish defamatory imputations about judges, in these circumstances about a current case, would be contempt of court.

      By all means – discuss the issues – that is good – find a way forward – but defaming the Plaintiffs or the Judges – not a smart thing to do.

  7. Observer

    Bad law and corrupt lawyers in bed with corrupt regulator
    Papua New Guinea is led down the African Tube by bad law and corrupt lawyers in bed with corrupt regulator.
    Myths about Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) being a government agency and a regulator of mines have been debunked.
    MRA and Corruption of Mineral Regulation in Papua New Guinea, a book edited by James Wanjik, lawyer and former Secretary for Mining tells it all.
    Killing lies and deceits of MRA, Wanjik exposed it for what it is; an entity with statutory dressing that makes love to and with miners for money in illegal tax known as production levy. MRA is a counterfeit and a prostitute regulator of mines.
    MRA is a creature of statute law namely the Mineral Resources Authority Act 2005. This law is unconstitutional. It was brought into operation on unlawful advice of a former Minister for Mining in 2006. It was set up by persons without lawful mandate and authority. It is collecting tax in production levy without the requisite prior approval of the National Parliament.
    The so-called “top international law firm” drafted the MRA law on contract from World Bank under a dubious project at the Department of Mining at the relevant time. In 2006 it advised persons other than the Department of Mining to bring MRA into operation. We should ask this law firm what motive they had. To benefit from illegal tax in illegal production levy MRA collects from unethical miners? Rotten it is.
    Now we know why Department of Mining was smothered in 2007.
    In 2006 James Wanjik was the Secretary for Mining. He put a stop to persons other than the Department of Mining promoting the MRA in breach of law in particular constitutional law. He was removed and replaced with a weak lawyer.
    Little did the Government know that this lawyer was a good friend of a lawyer at the named “top international law firm” and the World Bank consultant who had been the instigator of MRA.
    Slaying the goose that lays the golden egg was the motive. Two moles were used by the World Bank consultant. Their weaknesses were money and envy for position.
    Awestruck and powerless MRA is running to its creators. World Bank has injected millions of Kina for policy and politics. Lawyer for MRA is politically connected to the Government. Lawyer for Ramu NiCo MCC is politically connected to the Government. Lawyer for the landowners is politically connected to the Government through Electoral Commission. No coincidence but where the plaintiffs come from in Rai Coast a National Alliance candidate Mr. James Gau won the by-election and supports the project. It seems the litigation had no dent whatsoever.
    People are taken for a ride by lawyers. Legal ethics demand four duties; duty to the law, duty to the profession; duty to the court, and duty to the client. All duties are equal.

    So where is ethics in lawyers handling litigation on DSTP? Why have they not raised MRA as an important constitutional law issue for the court to deal with? Would it be breach of duty of care by these lawyers?
    People will soon know whether legal profession is indeed noble and ancient.
    May the law reign for PNG to reign.

  8. Thomas Pauling

    On the topic of lawyers has anyone on this blog actually read the pleadings of the Plaintiffs in the ramu litigation?
    All I have seen is a lot of speculation about what happens when you crack and egg to make an omlette.
    Its bizarr that people are so divided and selfish in their thinking to expect that a significant development like Ramu might provide substantial economic benifit to the nation but at the same time MUST not in any way case any measurable impact on the environment.
    It reminds me of a certain community the begged and begged and begged for a school because their kids were growing up uneducated, and, then once a raid and school were built, demanded compensation for the land on which it was built and the road which the community used to service their town.
    The same mentality seems to be permeating the Ramu Nickel debate, its not silly, but it is infantile.

    • Fed up

      Thomas Pauling.

      Raikos people are OK and they don’t need something so destructive to ‘improve’ their livelihoods. So are the Krumbukaris.

      There is an abundance of potential in non mining activities such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism etc etc which can become the economic vehicles of development and improvement in social conditions. But the brianless government chooses to turn a blind eye on these and opts for a destructive activity as an easy way out.

      We know how much our livelihoods depend on our natural environment and we will go to any lengths defending it. Even to the extent of booting the chaikos out with their ear lobes rolled down and the stupid and corrupt government following behind with its tails tucked firmly between its hind legs!

  9. png ambassador

    Thomas Pauling may be right on environmental science. He will be proven wrong on MRA law if TiFfany and co take MRA on soon.

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