Monthly Archives: June 2011

Lack of govt consultation on Ok Tedi irks Danaya

Post Courier

Papua New Guinea’s Western Province Governor, Dr Bob Danaya, is furious and has expressed concern that there was no consultation by the National Government with his government for the troubled Ok Tedi mine to resume operations.

Dr Danaya said this following the visit by the Minister for Mining, John Pundari, and Minister of Environment and Conservation, Benny Allen, to Tabubil to see firsthand the pyrite spillage site along the pipeline to Bige dredge site.

He asked why Western Province leaders were not included as part of the delegation to accompany the two ministers. He claimed that North Fly MP Boka Kondra was only allowed to join the ministers after he argued at the airport and eventually got on the charter.

Dr Danaya expressed disgust at the National Government for allowing mine operations to resume without any consultation with the Fly River Provincial Government. 
“Is it all about money making at the expense of environmental damage? Where is justice and when will justice be done to the people of Western Province? The Government continues to use a flawed piece of legislation using the indemnity clause in the Restated Ninth Supplemental Agreement to continue to operate the mine,” Dr Danaya said.

He said the indemnity clause states clearly that no legal action must be against OK Tedi mine for any environmental damage caused by the mine operations is inhuman and suppresses the rights of the people affected by the mine. 
He demanded to know whether the leaking pipes have been replaced to improve what he claimed a “bad piece of engineering” in pipeline structure because there is no guarantee that the existing and new pipes would leak or not.

“No amount of compensation will rectify the current environmental catastrophe. 
“Ok Tedi with the Mining Department have always used divide and rule tactics to cause conflict among the people,” the governor said.
The Governor demanded an explanation from the two ministers when he returns from the province next week.

7 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Marengo’s plan for marine dumping in PNG rejected

By Little Green Palai

LANDOWNERS in the Astrolabe Bay in Madang, Papua New Guinea are rejecting Marengo’s plan to dump mine wastes in their sea.

They made this stand known last week during a meeting with Marengo officials in Ileg, a village on the Astrolabe Bay. The Marengo official were in the communities of Ileg and Bongu to gauge their views  of the company dumping mine wastes in their sea. The people told them, “we are not stupid. We can see what is happening with the Ramu Nickel Project.”

The company officials also told the local people that they plan to build their processing site in the area.

The people said they have been lied to so many times in the Ramu Nickel project they do not want this repeated with the Marengo Mine.

Marengo officials will be back at Ileg for further meetings with the local people next week.

The Astrolabe is in the Raicoast district of Madang and is adjacent to the Basamuk where Ramu Nickel mine’s processing site is.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

PNG govt should stand up to mining bosses

By Reginald Renagi

Many mining companies have failed to exercise great corporate responsibility towards what they are doing in PNG.
The big bosses in this industry have for years not really cared at all about the harm done to our people and damage done by to our natural environment.

It is time the government “grow some spine” and ban BHP Billiton from conducting mining-related activities in PNG.

The government must seriously review its monitoring mechanism now to ensure PNG’s natural environment is not permanently destroyed as a direct result of the extractive industry.
All Papuan MPs must support the call by Western governor and his administration to end all mining activities in the province while the national government and OTML clean up the toxic river.

If need be, shut everything down, dredge the river bed and clean it out before the whole river­ eco-system is destroyed forever.
Papua MPs cannot continue to remain quiet and be manipulated by others.
They must support Governor Bob Danaya, Boka Kondra and mining minister John Pundari now.

4 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Kondra wants spillage checked

By Junior Ukaha*

NORTH Fly MP Boka Kondra has called on the National Government to send an independent investigation team into his electorate to investigate the pyrite spillage caused by Ok Tedi Mining early this month.

Kondra said although the mine had done its own investigation into the spillage, the report it had produced may have “elements of bias” since the mine and its agents were directly responsible for the spillage.

Kondra said the Wai Tope and Wai Smare River, where the pyrite allegedly spilled, “is the lifeline of more than 50 villages living along the river banks”.
“Given the importance of the rivers to these villagers I want an independent body to investigate the matter,” he said.
“I am not satisfied with the report by the mine as they may cover up some wrongs.”

He said villagers affected by the situation had to venture elsewhere to get fresh water for cooking, drinking and washing.
Kondra said the villagers were scared to go out fishing because the fish could have been poisoned by the spillage.
He said under the MoA signed with Ok Tedi in the 1980s, tailings and other waste from the mine were supposed to be dumped in the Alice River and not the Wai Tope and Smare River.

Kondra said the mine was scheduled to wind-down operations by 2013, but he had heard talks that operations would be extended for a few more years.
He said if that was the case, a “new agreement” must be signed with the landowners addressing issues like proper contingency plans for environmental damage and greater local participation.
Kondra, who is a landowner himself, said without these considerations there would be no mining after 2013.

*The National

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Bougainville Copper shareholders suffer losses and bite back

To all stakeholders in Bougainville Copper Limited

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is quite impressionning that a single TV report like the one of Mr. Thomson [SBS Sunday 26 June] is able to make the share price in Sydney drop significantly.

BCL shares lost almost 18 percent today! You can easily imagine that all investors in BCL are not amused to see this. The worst is that the confidence in Bougainville Copper which is equal with the confidence in Bougainville and its people has been severely damaged. Months of re-polishing Bougainville’s image in the world has been spoilt within a few hours only.

All those who care for Bougainville better future for years must be aware that reports like the one which was broadcasted will throw us back for weeks, months or even years. It is absolutely not acceptable that allegations, lies and suspicion rule Bougainville’s future. One example only:

This SBS gentleman, Mr. Thomson, even did not even mention the massive use of poisoness mercury for alluvial mining. But instead he shows children’s wounds and alleges that they have been caused by Bougainville Copper.

This is outrageous, infamous and ludicrous. Therefore may I invite you to stand together and to do all your very best to build up your landowner bodies and the umbrella body as well as soon as possible.

This will give you a strong voice in the upcoming BCA negotiations and in the future! It is not acceptable that self-appointed spokespersons without any democratic mandate on the ground attract public interest.

The actual image of Bougainville is not encouraging at all, it is even meant to chase away good-willing investors. So, fast-track the ongoing positive development on the ground and restore Bougainville’s image in a sustainable way. I am sure that Peter Taylor, Paul Coleman and our entire crew will give you support to do so.

This address goes to each and every single stakeholder to encourage you to do the best for Bougainville – everyone at his place! Please feel free to forward my email to all good willing friends worldwide.

Warmest regards,

Axel G. Sturm Escaldes-Engordany, 27.06.2011

4 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

MP blames Rio Tinto for Bougainville war

By Jeffrey Elapa

CENTRAL Bougainville MP Jim Miringtoro has blamed Rio Tinto, the former operator of the now-closed Bougainville copper mine, for the losses in the Bougainville war. He said the company and the government of Australia were directly involved in the Bougainville crisis and used the PNG government to start a war against its own people for the benefit of the company.

Miringtoro said the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had revealed that Rio Tinto was directly involved and responsible for the war on the island as reported on the television network SBS. He said more than 15,000 people including PNG defence force soldiers died during the crisis when it started in 1988 and which lasted 15 years.

“The Australian Government and Rio Tinto used the government to declare war on its citizens as a tool to protect itself, and not the lives of the citizens,’’ he said.

“Somare’s testimony revealed what the people of Bougainville knew of Australia’s and CRA’s (Rio Tinto) involvement in the crisis after destroying the environment and the unfair treatment of landowner,” he said.

Miringtoro said Rio Tinto was not welcome to Bougainville and any intention to reopen the mine by the company with no considerattion for the people would not be allowed. “We do not want the same pig that destroyed our garden to come back. “Those pigs are looters and we do not want them in Paguna or Bougainville,” Miringtoro said.

He said the Bougainville government and the people had their own plans to bring other foreign investors. Miringtoro said the problem in Bougainville was no different from other mining operations in the country. He said the foreign companies had no regard for the welfare and the lifestyle of the landowners as wel. And they did not respect the environment. He said the big companies mistreated and suppressed the people, dictated and controlled  the government to allow them to continue destroying the environment and the people.

Miringtoro said although Peter Taylor continued to deny their involvement in the crisis, the truth remained as revealed by  Somare.

“I thank the Grand Chief Sir Michael for being honest in revealing the truth. He is a true leader and he could have solved the crisis the Melanesian way if he was the prime minister,” he said.

3 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Is the PNG government also a puppet for the Chinese?

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare’s astonishing admission that foreign multinational companies are able to use their powerful positions to dictate the actions of the PNG government raises again concerns about the influence of the Chinese government and its controversial the Ramu nickel mine.

Speaking about the Panguna mine on Bougainville, at a time when he was Foreign Minister, Somare has admitted mining company Rio Tinto “exerted and excised significant control over the government’s actions on Bougainville”; actions that led to the deaths of over 15,000 people

“… the government took direction” from the company says Somare, the company “gave the orders and the government executed them with the company’s assistance and cooperation.”

“Rio Tinto understood that it’s instructions to the PNG government concerning or affecting the mine would be followed, as had always been the case…”

The Prime Minister’s statement, filed in court proceedings in the United States, is especially revealing the light of current allegations that he and his government are now the puppets of the Chinese State owned MCC that is developing the Ramu nickel mine in Madang.

While landowners have secured a temporary court injunction preventing the construction of the mine’s marine waste dumping system, the PNG government has been accused of breaching the country’s Constitution, undermining its democracy and removing indigenous landowners rights in its attempts to serve its Chinese masters.

Such allegations seem to more than mirror the Prime Ministers confessions about Bougainville, where he has admitted has admitted Rio Tinto demanded the PNG governemnt maintain a medical blockade until it had “starved the bastards out” – a reference to the indigenous landowners who had forced the mine to close. Lissa Evans, from Community Aid Abroad’s Disaster Response Desk, suggests this move alone cost the lives of 3,000 Bougainvilleans between 1990 and 1991.

Somare’s statement about Rio Tinto also exposes how during the civil war that erupted on Bougainville over environmental damage from the Panguna mine, Rio Tinto used the same tactics the PNG Chamber of Mine’s is currently employing, threatening theat government that inaction would lead to the loss of all mining investments, thus further forcing them to back the slaughter of innocent civilians.

“In order to prevent Rio from abandioning all of its investments in PNG, the government complied witjh Rio Tinto’s demands”, says Somare

2 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Australian Greens launch attack on foreign owned miners

The Australian Greens say too much of Australia’s mining profits are heading offshore and they have released a report which has found 83 per cent of Australia’s mining industry is foreign-owned.

The report says that in the next five years $50 billion in earnings derived from Australian mining investments will go offshore.

Senator Brown wants a Resource Super Profits Tax and believes Australians would have been more supportive of the idea the first time around if they had seen the figures.

“I think Australians simply have been left in the dark about the rapid takeover of ownership offshore of Australia’s minerals,” he said.

“I don’t think Australians have any idea that Australia’s mining industry is 83 per cent foreign owned.”

Senator Brown says images of Australian miners campaigning against the Government’s mining taxes give a false impression of the level of local ownership of the industry.

“A few local billionaires who’ve made a motza out of mining are covering up for the much greater profits than even they have yielded flowing overseas into the pockets of similar millionaires scattered around the world,” he said.

Senator Brown wants the new mining tax to apply to gold and uranium.

But Ben Mitchell from the Minerals Council of Australia believes there are holes in the Greens’ research.

“What I can say over the last 10 years [is] that 98 per cent of cash flow generated from mining has been either paid in taxes, in royalties or reinvested back into mining,” he said.

Mr Mitchell says he is not surprised by Senator Brown’s position.

“He said on Sunday that he wanted to close the coal industry down so it should come as no surprise that the Greens have produced a report geared to suit that position,” he said.

1 Comment

Filed under Financial returns

Bougainville Copper defends involvement in PNG war

By Jessica Burke, Mining Australia 

Rio Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper has defended its alleged involvement in causing the civil war in Papua New Guinea.

The claims came to light, when a signed affidavit by then Opposition leader, Sir Michael Somare accused the mining giant of having played an active role in the military operation that led to the civil war in the 80’s and 90’s.

The contents had not been known until the SBS gained access to it and revealed its contents.

The now Prime Minister, Somare, has recently undergone double heart surgery and could not comment on whether he stands by his comments, but the ABC spoke to Peter Taylor , Chairman and Managing Director of Bougainville Copper and Executive Director of Rio Tinto Australia.

When asked for comment on Rio Tinto’s involvement with police in PNG during the war, Taylor said it was a difficult time to be in the nation.

“Bougainville Copper only did what it had to do,” he said.

“There was a state of emergency declared and like any state of emergency you had to comply with the requirements.

Bougainville Copper has announced plans to reopen the mine and is currently receiving support from the PNG government, led by Somare.

According to reports, some landowners remain angry about the case, still in the United States courts, for compensation for past damage, but Taylor believes it only a small minority who are opposed to the mine.

“There are some landowners – according to (President) John Momis, they represent about 3% of the landowners, who are still opposed to the company reopening, but, you know, we haven’t had face to face discussions yet and I think we need to do that.,” he said.

Taylor said negotiating with armed protestors was difficult but could be done.

“Well, you invite them to the negotiating table and you hope they accept that invitation and we sit down and we discuss that they’ve got and the issues that I’ve got.”

He said the ongoing court case was not an issue for Bougainville Copper, but rather for Rio Tinto, who the case is against.

Paua New Guinea’s Opposition leader, Belden Namah has said a new company should come in to develop the copper mine on Bougainville, but Taylor said he has received a conflicting message from President Morris and the majority of landowners.

He said the company has been in discussion with landowners and the government to develop an appropriate plan.

“There has been an agreement between the national government, the Bougainville government and the company to sit down and have discussions but we’ve also agreed that an essential element is to have the landowner representatives at the table, and they are still in the process of forming a single body.

“And once that’s done there is nothing, really to prevent us from all getting around the table.

“When you talk about landowners who are anti the mine, I am not sure that we are really talking about landowners or some of the former combatants who are manning a roadblock on the way to the mine site.

“There are very few landowners, I think, who are not prepared to come to the negotiating table.

Taylor said the treatment of the issue by the SBS was “one-sided” and it is “solely a matter for PNG.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Seabed drilling to begin in 2013

Post Courier

THE Solwara1 seabed mine operation by Nautilus Minerals, located 30 kilometres from the coast of New Ireland and at a depth of 1600 metres is expected to begin by the end of 2013 with the mining of ‘high grade’ Seafloor Massive Sulphide deposits that contain copper, gold, silver, zinc and lead.

While the project is unique as the world’s first seabed mine, the lease arrangements are a reflection of the evolving legislative and regulatory process in Papua New Guinea since the 1970s.

“This will enable us to avoid past experiences from the OK Tedi and Bougainville Mines,” said Lyndah Brown-Kola, Senior Technical Assessment Engineer with the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA).
Mrs Brown-Kola was part of a team of government officials who attended the Deep Sea Mineral Project workshop organised in Fiji by SOPAC, a division of the South Pacific Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

The team presented to the delegates the legislative and regulatory process in PNG that led to the granting of the seabed mineral mining lease.
Mrs Brown-Kola said that the current legislative and regulatory review process was adequate to ensure that environmental, operational, and financial concerns were addressed.

“We operate in conjunction with the Department of Mineral Policy and Geo-Hazards Management, which has responsibility of setting all mining policies. 
It is part of the Mining ministerial portfolio,” Mrs Brown-Kola said.

She said the Government policy enables the State to acquire up to 30 per cent equity interest in mining projects in PNG. 
The government has set as a policy, that through its nominated state entity Petromin, it offloads five per cent to landowners as royalty. This provides a clear window of transparency in a project, as well as ensuring that the government shares in the profits, while responsibly participating in the mining operation through Petromin, which is an independent state commercial entity.

Mrs Kola-Brown said that the government had been looking at the Solwara I project since 1997 and it granted nautilus Minerals the first offshore mineral exploration license in 2008.
“We have been working with Nautilus for fourteen years. It was only this year that we granted the company a mining license. This followed two years of deliberations over their application,” she said.

Mrs Kola-Brown said the two years were spent ensuring environmental concerns were addressed. 
It was a requirement to issue an Environment Permit as a condition before the mining license was given. 
“We have been educating PNG communities in the region to make sure they understand all facets of the project. 
“We have sent our technical overseas to expand their expertise in seabed mining,” she said.
“We are well aware of the importance of this project and understand that it will be used as a model for others around the world to learn from. I am very proud to be a part of this venture.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea