Monthly Archives: April 2011

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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Mt Kare locals sign for gold mine


MT Kare landowners have signed a golden deal that will see them share almost 50-50 equity with an Australian Mining Company to start alluvial mining in the gold rich Mt Kare between Enga and Southern Highlands provinces in Papua New Guinea.
The agreement signed last Thursday will see landowners getting 47% while Ace Mining of Australia holds 53% of the deal.

More than 200 Mt Kare landow­ners met with Ace Mining chief execu­tive officer Gavin Nash and company director John Rollings met at the Port Moresby’s Sports Inn where the landowners signed the agreement inviting the developer to start alluvial mining operations.
The developer is now awaiting government approval through the Mineral Resource Authority for a special alluvial mining lease to start alluvial mining operations.

Landowner leaders led by Simon Kambe, Martin Yalia, Eka Mari Ekanja, former MP Anthon Pakena, Iwa Hoyabe from Paiala side of Enga province were with their counterparts Thomas Yago, Nelson Gori, Ondole Takili, Ken Angobe and Tom Peke from the Southern Highlands side of the border put their signatures to the agreement formally giving the “green-light” for alluvial mining operations.

Under the agreement, when it starts operations, Ace Mining will build road and bridges, schools, health centres and a hydro-power system to light up the local areas and supply the new Hela province.
The cost of infrastructure, training, health centres and hydro power will come out from the 7% of the landowner equity.
The deal will have the developer pay for school fees for children attending elementary, primary and high schools in the project area and pay school fees and allowance to project area children attending tertiary study around the country.
The agreement will be reviewed after five years.

The person who made it all happen is Simon Bole, from Southern Highlands, who liaised between the landowners and the mining executives.
Bole said the people had been waiting for the past 25 years for the project which never eventuated because of outstanding issues with landowners, the state and developers.
Bole said there were 6,000 landowners from the 60,000 population covering three LLGs in both provinces who will have to sign the agreement to give approval for the company to apply for an alluvial mining lease from the state.

One landowner leader, Nelson Gori, who is an IT specialist at University of Papua New Guinea, urged all elites from the area to step in to move the project forward.
“I urged all like-minded landowner leaders that the time is right for this investment,” he said.
“We cannot go on fighting each other because the real benefits of education, health and social infrastructure is for the people.
“The people have spoken and now it’s up to the national government to give us the license.
“We have already signed the agreement inviting the developer to come in,” Gori said.

Nash said many international companies “have come and taken out everything”, adding that this agreement was give and take.
The Mt Kare mining licence has already been awarded to Kingsgate for hard-rock mining. The licence will expire in 2012.

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Bougainville authorities powerless to deal with illegal guns

Spotted on Radio Australia

Recently we reported on the stalled efforts to dispose of the weapons that fuelled the decade-long civil war on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

Ten years after a peace agreement ended the conflict, hundreds, possibly thousands of weapons are still in the hands of former combatants and criminals.

Bougainville’s government says it doesn’t have the money or expertise to solve the problem and has called for international help.

The issue’s importance has been highlighted with the murder of two people, one of them a high school student, and the shooting of another man in the island’s south several days ago.

Bougainville’s police commander, Inspector Paul Kamuai says his unarmed officers are largely powerless to respond.

Presenter: Liam Fox, PNG correspondent

Speaker: Inspector Paul Kamuai, Bougainville Police Commander

KAMUAI: These three victims were actually unarmed and they were actually seen in the village when these criminal elements walked into the village, and then just started shooting at them without saying anything. And it is a big pity that we still have this criminal element operating within that area. This criminal element has been operating in that area for the past years since the Bougainville peace agreement and then onwards.

FOX: Do you know much about them? Who’s their leader?

KAMUAI: Their leader is Damien Koike, and from our information he is still armed. He has quite a number of armed boys with him, about a number between 20 and 30, and they don’t stay in a particular village, they keep moving.

FOX: And you said that these are boys, most of them are not former combatants are they?

KAMUAI: No, there could be a mixture of boys and former combatants in the group. The police are not able to go into the constituency unless they are armed, and if the police are to make any attempts to make arrests, there would be an armed confrontation, and that is something that we need to avoid.

FOX: So effectively police aren’t able to go and arrest the people responsible for this shooting, is that right?

KAMUAI: Not at this point in time unless there still be an armed confrontation.

FOX: Do you think there needs to be another effort to try and get people to disarm, and if you do what do you think needs to be done to get people to give up their guns?

KAMUAI: That’s a good question, we’ve been asking all this time, all these years that we should do something about these firearms, they should be disposed. I believe all the plans have been going, have not been working. Most probably because of finance, the finance situation with the government, that’s my guess.

FOX: Would it help police if they had more resources and had arms themselves?

KAMUAI: That’s the way I see it, that has been a concern with me and the  service. We really need to be well resourced, we need to have the right kind of training, we really need to have the infrastructure built, because the policy service was totally destroyed.

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Watut communities, angered by govt absence, set demands

Over 3,000 people attended the Forum

The Watut River Forum held at the Sir Ignatus Kilage Stadium in Lae was attended by well over 3,000 participants from mining impacted communities within the Bulolo and Huon Gulf Districts. But the participants were angered that even though invitations were given to various government authorities such as Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), Mineral Resource Authority (MRA)and the Mining Department, none of them turned up. An ever bigger let down was the absence of Morobe Governor Luther Wenge and Huon Gulf MP and Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Hon Sasa Zibe. The only invited guest that turn up for the Forum was Hon Sam Basil, MP for the Bulolo Open Electorate.

The mining affected communities say they have now seen how the PNG Government is turning a blind eye to the very citizens that it is supposed to serve and is ignoring the problems created by the Hidden Valley gold mine which is owned and operated by Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining.

A 21 day ultimatum has therefore been given to the National and Morobe Provincial Government to act before the communities resolve as to their next cause of action which will come after May 11, 2011.

The demands include:

  1. That the Morobe Governor meet all his outstanding commitments made to the concerned communities since 2009 which have never been fulfilled;
  2. That DEC and MRA come down to the communities and address their outstanding problems;
  3. That the National Court action taken by the Union of Watut River Communities be continued and shall include the Huon Gulf mining impacted communities;
  4. That Morobe Mining Joint Venture should not visit the impacted communities outside of the Hidden Valley MOA area;
  5. Authorities, including Bulolo District JDBPPC and Government of PNG, address the outstanding 471 garden compensation payments;
  6. That all the above demands be met no latter than 11 May, 2011. Failure will result in further action.


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Controversial PNG copper mine may reopen

By Liam Fox, ABC

A once-prominent Australian mining company is optimistic a controversial copper mine in Papua New Guinea could be reopened within five years.

The Panguna mine on the island of Bougainville was the epicentre of a decade-long civil war that left several thousand people dead.

Its Australian owner Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) suspended operations in 1989.

But many islanders want it reopened to fund their long-held desire of independence from PNG.

At BCL’s annual general meeting, chairman Peter Taylor welcomed initial moves by local landowners to renegotiate the mine agreement.

He said the election of John Momis as Bougainville’s president last year was a crucial event, as he has publicly supported the mine.

Mr Taylor said it would cost around $3 billion to reopen Panguna and the next step would be a pre-feasibility study.

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