Monthly Archives: April 2011

Pressure mounts on Barrick Gold’s ‘destructive mining’ in PNG

Spotted on Pacific Scoop

Friends of the Earth International has backed calls from communities around the world for a halt to the Canadian mining company Barrick Gold’s “destructive practices” in Papua New Guinea and other countries.

Campaigners were present at the company’s annual general meeting and joined a protest rally outside the meeting venue in Toronto.

Barrick Gold, the largest gold miner in the world, has been the subject of many documented studies of human rights abuses and environmental devastation globally, including in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Tanzania.

Friends of the Earth International calls in to question the necessity of the Canadian-owned corporation’s gold mining operations. With the vast majority of gold used for jewellery, Barrick’s gold mines on average use more water than the entire bottle water industry in Canada, and this water is polluted with mining waste products such as cyanide, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, and sulphides.

Romel de Vera, coordinator of Friends of the Earth International’s programme on Resisting Mining, Oil and Gas, said: “All this waste, pollution and impacts on communities lives and livelihoods is in exchange for a product that has very few practical applications.

“With environmental costs almost entirely unaccounted for, the processing costs are all that stand in the way for companies to realise huge profits at the expense of those living next to the mines.”

Last year, the Norwegian Pension fund divested $230 million from Barrick for “ethical reasons”, especially related to their mine in Papua New Guinea. And when Swiss Research firm Covalace compiled both quantitative and qualitative data spanning seven years and 581 companies they listed Barrick as the 12 least ethical company in the world[4].

Heri Ayubu, from Lawyers Environmental Action Team/Friends of the Earth Tanzania said: “ There have been two reports confirming lasting negative effects of a toxic spill from Barrick Gold’s North Mara operation in Tanzania that occurred in May 2010.

“Villagers alleged that up to 40 people and from 700 to 1000 herds of livestock died from the contaminated water and the nearby community are still experiencing health problems to date. Despite this Barrick has taken no action and is still endangering peoples’ right to life.”

Natalie Lowrey, from Friends of the Earth Australia, who was at the annual meeting and joined the rally outside, said: “In Australia, Barrick has desecrated an ecologically and culturally significant site on Wiradjuri lands with an open-pit mine in the bed of Lake Cowal within a flood plain.

“Wiradjuri Traditional Owners have been fighting Barrick in the courts for 10 years on the desecration of sacred sites at Lake Cowal and on the protection of Wiradjuri Native Title Rights.”

Friends of the Earth is joining Protest with Barrick Gold impacted communities from Tanzania, Philippines and Papua New Guinea on a two-week speaking tour in Canada from April 27 until May 15.


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Impacted communities confront Barrick Gold on human rights abuses

By Sakura Saunder

Indigenous representatives from Porgera, Papua New Guinea traveled to Canada this week to speak at Barrick Gold’s annual general meeting (AGM). This year marks the fourth year that the Porgerans have visited Barrick Gold’s AGM, each time raising serious human rights and food security issues. While they were not able to address shareholders inside the meeting for the first time in 4 years, they addressed the more than 200 people who rallied outside to protest about the company.

Jethro Tulin speaks to the crowd outside the AGM

Jethro Tulin, Akali Tange Association a member of the Porgera Alliance said, “Since 2008 we have stood here at Barrick shareholder meetings and told them about the abuses our people suffer at the hands of Barrick’s security forces – beatings, shootings, rapes and gang rapes.” 

“At past AGM meetings, the board has assured the shareholders that our words were not true. But now, the world knows that there are serious abuses occurring at your Porgera Mine in PNG.” 

In 2011, due to pressure from an investigation by Human Rights Watch, Barrick finally allowed for an investigation of their security regarding the allegations of gang rapes. Five Barrick employees were fired, while eight former employees were implicated in the abuse.

Barrick founder and Chairman, Peter Munk, was later quoted in the Globe and Mail saying “gang rape is a cultural habit” in the countries like Papua New Guinea, angering the Porgeran community and prompting the country’s Mining Minister, John Pundari, to demand a public apology.

Instead of an apology, Barrick Gold’s Australia-Pacific President, Gary Halverson stated that Munk’s comments were taken out of context, lamenting that “only a small portion of this conversation was included” in the Globe and Mail article. The Porgera Alliance has since called for accountability in addition to backing the Mining Minister’s call for an apology.

Similarly, a Amnesty International report released in 2010 showed evidence of at least 130 structures adjacent to Barrick’s Porgera mine were burned down, many of which were houses, while villagers were beaten, harassed, and detained.

Barrick housed the police who carried out these fiery evictions, and according to Mark Ekepa of the Porgera Landowners Association, they continue to support these same police.

“Barrick is continuing to house, feed and provide fuel to Mobile Units of the Papua New Guinea state who are responsible for burning down local landowners’ houses in 2009, and who continue to carry out beatings, rapes and house burnings around the mine.” 

Ekepa and Tulin traveled again to Canada this year to bring attention to these issues and call for the relocation of all the indigenous landowners who live in the Special Mine Area as well as the end to the practice of dumping toxic waste directly into their 800 km-long river system.

PNG Mining Minister Responds to Munk’s Statement about Gang Rape, Porgera Alliance demands Accountability:
Porgera Alliance Letter to Peter Munk regarding his statement: “Gang Rape is a Cultural Habit”:
Barrick says chief’s comments taken out of context


Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Governor Wenge leaves a bad taste

Spotted in The Drum

Have to assume the good Morobe Guvna gave his PR staff the weekend off? His agitated performance bouncing around in front of the camera on last night’s news didn’t look good. Sit down next time, Guv. That performance just raised all the poor stereotypes we have come to expect of pollies. And the subject of the story, the Watut River pollution, would only harden the affected people’s attitude when they saw the belligerence with which he addressed them rather than the conciliation they probably expected from their leader

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Is the environment important or not?

By weso@amot.barike

Supporting D. Iyampon’s letter in the Post Courier (24/01/11), I would like to also share my opinion. Firstly I don’t know why we (New Guinea Islands) are so quiet about the current granting of mining lease to Nautilus. It is sad to hear our very own people being so happy about royalties and employment opportunities. This shows clearly that we do not care about the environmental impacts the undersea mining could bring about.

Remember that this is the first of its kind in the world therefore we can not really predict the environmental impacts.
What I’m really worried about is the environment. We can enjoy the benefits today but what about the future. And if our seas will be contaminated, where will you go fishing and what will happen to our beautiful reefs, etc…

Let’s not be greedy and short sighted. We can rely on tests, scientists’ findings and assurances from the company but remember, no one can ever control nature. 
The government has granted the lease maybe because it is afraid of legal action if it tries to stop the company at this stage.

What about us (NGIs), are we just going to sit and wait to see the result and complain or are we gonna do something. Just a little concern from me but if you do not agree with the above, then just wait and see “ONLY TIME WILL TELL.”


Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

DEC failing to regulate the mining industry

Watut Reporter

MP Sam Basil has criticized the Department of Conservation (DEC) for failing to regulate the mining industry in Papua New Guinea and ensure its operations are environmentally safe.

“DEC has a responsibility on behalf of the Nation to ensure that mining operations are safe and will not damage the environment. Yet time after time the mines end up causing massive problems while DEC sits by and watches”

“We have already had massive pollution from Bougainville, Ok Tedi, Tolukuma and Porgera mines and sadly now it is the same with the Hidden Valley project. The PNG Government through DEC is telling the world that mining with pollution is normal in PNG and the people must accept that fact”.

Mr Basil has recently filed legal proceedings against the Hidden Valley mine in his constituency over its pollution of the Watut river.

“It is not good enough for Minister Benny Allen to say DEC received an environmental audit report on the Hidden Valley mine in May this year and will be working on an environmental improvement plan.”

If the Minister’s sponsored report audit says the river is safe then I will invite the minister to Watut River to consume a litre of Watut River to prove to me that the rivers is safe.

“Where is the report? Why have I not been given a copy? Why don’t the landowners who are suffering the impacts of the pollution have a copy? Is DEC trying to cover up things for the mining company? The report should be released immediately”.

Mr Basil says DEC should also explain why it gave the Hidden Valley mine an environmental permit in the first place and how it is the company was able to pollute the Watut river without DEC noticing anything was wrong.

“DEC, like MRA, is supposed to be protecting landowners and our environment, not facilitating mining on the cheap”.

Mr Basil says he has instructed his lawyers to look into whether DEC and the Minister could be legally held liable for the damage the mine has caused.

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Mining Act must change

By Heart pain citizen, NIP 

Resource laws must change and I don’t care about others because this is the attitude the government has been using on ordinary resource landowners and indigenous people of this country “the don’t care attitude”. 
I believed, it is time now you eat your own pride and taste your own medicine because in your own conscious mind, you know laws are not benefiting the local landowners yet you are using parliamentary privilege to continue to accommodate your own selfishness in Waigani and your foreign alien friends.

If the mining provinces are not represented well in ministries, departmental head positions and State entities management, then who are you to boss our resource money.
PNG, let’s move now and support New Ireland and Western Province governors, the Conrad Bill, the autonomous system and all other relevant submissions that are ready for implementation and a change is 200% supported.

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Landowner company signs up for crusher


THE people of Nauti village, who are one of the three principal landowner groups in the Hidden valley gold mine in the Morobe Province, have leased a crusher to the mine for ore processing at the mine site.
A signing ceremony was held in Lae to formalise the deal which saw the Nauti people’s owned company Hamata Limited sign the contract for the new crusher with the landowner umbrella company NKW Limited and Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) representatives.

The K 12 million crusher is now in operation.
Hamata Limited is a company formed by the Ekuta Clan who are original landowners of the Hidden Valley land.
The contract is for 36 months and can be extended after a review at the end of the initial contract period.

The crusher contract is a major landowner participation contracts for the Hidden valley mine and the shareholders of Hamata Limited were reminded by the chairman of the NAKUWI Association Rex Maori to let company management run the business to ensure benefits come to all landowners.

Mr Maori told the Nauti people to work with MMJV to bringing benefits to their village, saying a win for the Nauti people is a win for all three landowner groups – the Nauti, Kwembu and Winima people. 
All three villages are shareholders of their umbrella landowner company NKW Limited which already is involved in several spin-off benefit contracts for the mine.

*Spotted in the Post Courier

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Basil: No need for separate investigation

Source: The National

BULOLO MP Sam Basil does not want Morobe Governor Luther Wenge to engage different lawyers and toxicologists to represent the affected Watut River communities over pollution claims relating to the Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea.

Basil said almost K1 million from the Morobe treasury had already been paid to a law firm over a three-year period.
“If the governor proceeds with this action, it will be a duplication of the efforts of Bulolo district which has already spent K50,000 as legal fees and another K50,000 to engage a toxicologist,” he said and questioned why Wenge had made a separate commitment to support the legal fight funded by the district.

After being given a copy of records from the province’s treasury including cheque numbers, Basil questioned why private law firm Steel Lawyers was paid a retainer by the Morobe provincial government from 2006 to 2008.
“This means they were still being paid regardless of whether they were a fighting a court challenge for the provincial government,” he said.
“Under that arrangement, the law firm basically is looking after the interests of the governor.”

He said the firm had been paid K258,382 in 2006, K258,850 in 2007 and K318,316 in 2008, while records for 2009 to this year had yet to be made available to him.
“There is no need to spend another kina when the Lae road needs fixing,” Basil said.

Prominent lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr and respected toxicologist Gama Gamato, a Morobean who works in the Australian mining industry, are engaged by Bulolo district on behalf of the affected communities in Huon Gulf and Bulolo districts.
Basil said he wanted the financial records made known so that the people of Morobe “can know the truth about how the provincial government and its administration are operating”.

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Wafi-Golpu mine by 2016 says Harmony

South Africa’s Harmony Gold expects its proposed new US$3-billion Wafi-Golpu copper-gold mine in Papua New Guinea to come into production in 2016.
Now in pre-feasibility stage in a joint-venture with Newcrest Gold of Australia, Wafi-Golpu is set to follow Harmony’s Hidden Valley copper-gold mine that came into production last September, also in a joint-venture with Newcrest.

“Even at this early stage, we can confidently say that Wafi-Golpu is going to be a mine. There’s no doubt about it,” Harmony Gold CEO Graham Briggs tells Mining Weekly Online.

The US$3-billion price tag is linked to mining taking place at a rate of 20-million tonnes a year.
However, current thinking is that actual output using the block-cave mining method may be 30-million tonnes a year, which would increase the amount of capital required.
The JSE- and NYSE-listed Harmony is committed to providing half of whatever capital is required.

Harmony Gold’s financial director Hannes Meyer said the high quality of the grade was positioning Wafi-Golpu as a relatively low-cost future mining operation.
Total cost of mining is expected to be US$25/tonne, against expected revenue of US$100/tonne to US$300/tonne, which makes it a high-margin business.
“It’s really capital insensitive,” Meyer said.

By 2014-15, when Harmony will have to arrange the capital for Wafi-Golpu, its South African Phakisa, Doornkop, Kusasalethu and other local projects will no longer be requiring high levels of capital and will begin generating strong cash flows, which will be able to underpin the financial requirements of the project.
Also, Wafi-Golpu has significant copper, which Harmony may use for commodity-backed financing for the project.
Meyer envisages that selling a third of the copper could provide between US$500 million and US$1 billion in project funding.

The anticipated profitability of the business also provides scope for the introduction of considerable debt into the financing structure.
“Equity will be the last route that we’ll pursue. We’ll explore all other avenues before we dilute shareholders,” Meyer said.

Harmony’s Hidden Valley mine is expected to produce at a rate of 280,000oz per year for the next 14 years.
The Wafi part of Wafi-Golpu is a gold-only resource and the Golpu part is copper-gold porphyry.
Continual exploration drilling since 2007 indicated the potential presence of 38 million oz of gold equivalent, with recent drilling unearthing an 883m strike at 5g/t to 7g/t gold equivalent.

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Watut Union: Wenge must fulfill pledges

Source: The National

IN light of last week’s strong stance by the mine-impacted communities against Morobe leaders and the developer of the Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea, the Union of Watut River Communities (UoWRC) and Bulolo MP Sam Basil now want Morobe Governor Luther Wenge to fulfil his commitments.
They are also discouraging the governor from engaging a new toxicologists, lawyers and register any new court case which they believe would duplicate the current efforts undertaken by Bulolo district.

Basil and UoWRC president Rueben Miti denied claims that they failed to make submissions to his office regarding the severity of the Watut River pollution and that they did follow formal procedures in making submissions to get the provincial government’s assistance, and also formally invited the governor to last week’s forum, where his and Huon Gulf MP Sasa Zibe’s absence triggered an avalanche of criticism from the affected communities in Huon Gulf and Bulolo districts.

“The governor’s office is not functioning like the office it should be,” Basil said.
“There is no internet, no telephone, no fax and he also does not have a mobile phone. You can not correspond with him, you have to track him down physically in order to do that.”

Miti said there should be no excuse for their absence as forum invitations were hand delivered and faxed two weeks in advance to both offices in Lae and parliament in Port Moresby.
“It shows that the officers of the Huon Gulf MP and governor were not doing their jobs in these high public offices.”
He also said they produced the first submission two days after the governor requested them to do after making the first commitment at Middle-Watut on Nov 29 three years ago, and after repeated another commitment to the Wampar people of Huon Gulf early last year, and went one step further by creating another Watut River union which in contrast to the UoWRC has politicians as executives.

“Damage has been done to our environment and we are not playing politics,” Miti said.
“We want to know whether the governor will honour these commitments or not, it seems like he is trying to duplicate and divide the genuine authorities and the bodies already in place.”

Basil said the UoWRC did their part and Bulolo district after asking the governor’s office used K50,000 as legal fees for the mid-year litigation case which prominent lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr will represent the affected communities, while another K50,000 was also spent to engage top Morobean toxicologist Gama Gamato to examine the level of pollution in the river.
“Whether you like it not, you must support our lawyer, our chemist and you must support the people of Morobe.”

The UoWRC organised forum last week agreed on a 21-day ultimatum and now awaits the position of the governor regarding his commitments and appealed to the departments of Environment and Conservation, Health, Mining and Mineral Resource Authorities to seriously look into the matter.

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