Monthly Archives: July 2011

Watut River communities support Madang locals to appeal court decision

By Watut Reporter 

While many of the rural communities around Papua New Guinea are discussing and wondering about the National Court decisions to allow foreign owned MCC to dump its tailings into Bismarck sea, the Watut River Communities led by its Environmental Campaign Group, the Union of Watut River Communities (UoWRC) has thrown its support behind its colleagues in Madang as they appeal the Decisions in the highest court.

UoWRC President Mr Reuben Mete delivered this note to its members over the weekend. Watut River Communities under UoWRC will also sue Hidden Valley Operator – Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold; also on Environmental Damage and loss of economy for rural communities. The case is expected to be registered next month at the National Court in Lae.

UoWRC has currently engage a Lae base lawyer to deal with all its criminal charges laid against them in the district court and will also appeal some of the district court decisions in Lae. It is now confirm that all criminal case charges against UoWRC will begun next Monday. Mr Mete describe the following months starting from August as the beginning of a new chapter for the Watut River Communities.

UoWRC is yet to confirm weather Tiffany Nonggorr will represent them in the National Court Case on Environmental Damage. Tiffany was mention often by the Bulolo District led by the local MP Hon Sam Basil but was later put into criticisms as the District now wants to divert its attention to other Land ownership issue involving both Hidden Valley and Waffi Mining. A meeting with the local MP and Lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr is expected next week to iron out all misunderstandings.

UoWRC is now supporting the call of a National Union of Landowners and will eyeing to push their Litigation to international Laws.

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Gold Anomaly to acquire 100% of Fegusson Island gold project in PNG

Proactive Investor is reporting that Gold Anomaly Limited will acquire a 100% interest in the Fergusson Island Gold Project in Papua New Guinea.

To achieve it, the company will issue 12 million shares and pay C$25,000 to acquire a 33% interest in the Project, bringing Gold Anomaly’s total ownership in the Project to 100%.

The Company is discussing with the Papua New Guinea Mineral Resources Authority an extension to a feasibility study deadline and the renewal or reissuance of exploration licenses EL 1025 and EL 1070.

Earlier this year the Company advised that following its requests to the MRA to grant an extension to the Fergusson Island Gold Project feasibility study deadline the MRA had refused to renew EL 1070.

Gold Anomaly is optimistic that it will, for the first time, have rights to 100% of the Wapolu and Gameta deposits on Fergusson Island.

The Project comprises two drilled gold deposits, Wapolu and Gameta, located 30 kilometres apart on the north Coast of Fergusson Island in PNG.

Since 1996, over $15M has been spent on the Project. Both properties are accessible by low cost water access due to their close proximity to the coast. Landowners are supportive of the Project and its potential commercial development.

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Marengo allocates A$5m to boost exploration ops

By Sinclaire Solomon


Marengo Mining, developers of the giant Yandera copper-molybdenum project in Madang, will spend A$5 million during the next 12 months to boost its exploration effort for both base metals within the broader project area.
This will be in addition to the current intense in-fill drilling programme at the Yandera central porphyry deposit, reports The National.

Marengo Mining chief executive Les Emery announced the latest developments on Wednesday, saying that various components of Yandera’s definitive feasibility study (DFS), with the exception of the process design and metallurgical test work, were progressing as planned and it would be presented to the government early next year.

He said they were confident that by early next year they would conclude a formal construction agreement – engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract – with the leading Chinese construction and engineering group, China Nonferrous Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co Ltd (NFC) and Arccon (WA) Pty Ltd), their Australian engineering partner. 
Emery said Marengo would appoint NFC as the principal contractor under the turnkey, lump-sum contract and also enter into a formal financing agreement under which NFC will finance least 70% of the mine development costs, through Chinese banks.

“The company is continuing to provide update briefings with the PNG Government and other statutory bodies to progress the permitting process for the Yandera project which remains the critical path item in terms of the overall project development schedule.

“The government has expressed interest in taking up a contributing interest in the Yandera project,” he said, adding that any interest acquired would be held by the state-owned Petromin Ltd, which holds state interest in other resource projects, currently in or near feasibility stage.

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Minister tries to reassure Ramu locals over marine dumping


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Yandera waste will be even worse than Ramu tailings

While the controversy over plans by the Ramu nickel mine to dump its waste into the sea in Papua New Guinea continues, scientists are warning the potential environmental destruction from the Yandera copper mine will be even greater.

The waste from the Yandera mine will be more toxic and greater in quantity than the tailings from the Ramu nickel mine, according to scientific experts.

The Yandera mine, owned by Australian company Marengo Mining, is expected to produce some 25 million tonnes of toxic sufide tailings per year once it enters production – five times the 5 million tonnes of waste expected from the Ramu mine.

Sulfide tailings are known to be rich in heavy metals as porphyry copper deposits often have mercury, arsenic and other metals in them.

The National court in PNG has already warned of the potential devastating impacts from the Ramu mine waste dumping which it found will constitute a private and a public nuisance and will breach the National Goals in PNG’s Constitution.

Like the Ramu mine, Yandera will be constructed and run by a Chinese company. For Yandera the developer will be China Nonferrous Metal Industries, a company with a very poor track record in mining in Africa.

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Greens want crackdown on Australian miners overseas

Australia’s Greens Party is going to push for legislation preventing Australian mining companies from engaging in environmental practices overseas that they couldn’t do at home, reports the ABC.

This is a response to the recent legal decision in Papua New Guinea, allowing the Chinese owned Ramu Nickel Mine to dump up to 5 million tonnes of toxic waste into the Astrolabe and Basamuk bays off Madang.

The Greens Party holds the balance of power in Australia’s Senate at the moment.

Party leader, Senator Bob Brown, has visited Madang to see the area which would be affected, and he says Australia needs to take action because this legal decision is not just an internal matter for PNG.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Senator Bob Brown, leader of Australia’s Greens Party

BROWN: It’s a global issues because all our oceans are interlinked and the marine heritage and we’re talking here about some of the richest eco-systems in the world belong to everybody, as well as to the unfortunate locals who have tried so hard in the courts to stop five million tonnes of toxic waste being dumped into the ocean eco-system off the north coast of Papua New Guinea.

HILL: Is this a decision that would have taken place in an Australian court of a similar thing had been proposed?

BROWN: No, it simply would not happen in an Australian court and one has to doubt it would happen in a Chinese court. It’s a Chinese company of course working on the back of an Australian company which first opened up this venture. They’re both very happy with the outcome, because they can see the profits coming from the development of the Ramu nickel mine and the….. that comes with it. But put the toxic waste into the marine eco-system, as well as I understand the sewerage from the mine system and who knows what else. It’s an appalling indictment of modern technology being brought to Papua New Guinea without the safeguard that you would get in the home countries against this sort of destruction of marine eco-systems.

HILL: Well, this is a judgement about a tailings distribution system by a Chinese-owned company in Papua New Guinea. In what sense does this become an Australian issue?

BROWN: Well, of course, the mine was first mooted by an Australian corporation which still has that’s Highlands Pacific, which still has nine per cent of the holdings and I understand can increase that to over 20 per cent again as the mine gets underway and becomes profitable. It’s very much an Australian corporation and an Australian responsibility and of huge interest to Australia. It points again to the need for Australian laws which require corporations from Australia to behave overseas in exactly the same way they would be required to if they were operating here in Australia under Australian law.

HILL: Well, your party the Greens, holds the balance of power in the Australian Senate. Are you going to put pressure on the Australian government to do something about this and if so, what?

BROWN: Yes, I have asked, I was in Madang in May. I came back to the Senate and spoke about just this mine and warned about it in the Australian Senate. But of course the Greens are a minority there and the big parties are so far turning their back on their responsibility to speak up about what is potentially an underwater Ok Tedi exported again from Australia and an Australian mining company to the loss of the people who depend upon the environment, on this occasion a marine environment in Papua New Guinea.

HILL: So what is it you want the Australian government to do, what are you proposing?

BROWN: Well the Australian government should be firstly legislating to prevent Australian companies operating overseas from treating the environment in other peoples countries in a way that would be illegal home here in Australia.

HILL: If that happened though, wouldn’t that simply mean that companies from other countries with a less strenuous legislation would simply be able to come in and undercut Australian companies and make the environmental situation so much worse?

BROWN: Well no, that’s not what would happen. There is a limit to the capital and investment and certainly other countries might well do quite the reverse and adopt the Australian system of requiring their home grown companies to operate ethically overseas. You see what we have to do set a led in Australia and not put ourselves at the back of the row and not act in a way which the modern world requires that we should do so as the wealthiest resource-based company on earth. We should be setting the pace, not coming from behind.

HILL: In a judgement, the judge who made this decision said that he had to weigh up the needs of national development and the desires of the government for this to go ahead against the environmental wishes of the landowners. Do you take on board the need for a great deal of national development in a country like Papua New Guinea?

BROWN: Well, I would if the profits were going to go back to Papua New Guinea, but they’re going to flow to the Chinese Communist government, but the biggest stakeholder in this and to a smaller degree, to already wealthy people who are not struggling in Australia and elsewhere. The judge also said that it’s likely that this project will cause serious environmental harm and that directly points to the failure of the Papua New Guinea legal system to prevent serious environmental harm and I spoke to government officials when I was in Port Moresby about this particular mine and they seemed very relaxed about the fact that five million tonnes of toxic waste were going to be dumped into the sea canyon to the north of this mine as if somehow or other it was out of sight out of mind, but, of course, it’s not going to be.

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Sea is not a dumping ground

By Mali Voi

I refer to the announcement by Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan that the “state is happy with tailings disposal option” [for the Ramu nickel mine]

Is he implying that it is safe to dump to­xic materials into the sea? According to the underwater heritage studies conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in Kiribati (2003-07), humans do not know very much about life in the ocean floors.

Dumping waste into the deep sea is bound to have future consequences, which the Scottish Association of Marine Scien­ces will not know because the scientist­s will not be alive when disasters occur.

Nature has a tendency to create a domino effect, that is, whatever is done in one side of this planet will affect the other side. The Pacific Ocean that washes the shores of the islands in Pacific is the same water that circulates the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Do not push nature into instability to the detriment of humanity and safety of its species through material greed.

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Yandera eyes DSTP option

By Sinclaire Solomon

ONE day after Ramu NiCo won a National Court decision allowing it to dispose of its wastes through the deep sea tailings placement system in Basamuk, Madang, nearby Yandera copper-molybdenum project developer Marengo Mining announced it was still considering its tailings disposal options, reports The National.

Marengo Mining CEO Les Emery said on Wednesday that an in-depth comparison of various options for tailings disposal had already been considered, including deep sea and land-based disposal. 
“The company is confident that this work will result in the most favourable environmental option for tailings disposal being selected,” he said. A tailings disposal plan is a key component of the definite feasibility study (DFS) for the mine which is due to be presented to the government early next year.

The Yandera project is regarded one of the Asia-Pacific’s largest undeveloped copper resources. 
The sea disposal option involved pipeline the waste to the Astrolabe Bay, west of Basamuk, and dumping it through a similar DSTP system into the deep-sea canyon.

However, a new player has come into the equation – Madang businessman Peter Yama, a leader of the main landowning group in the Yandera project area.
Yama, who is organising the seven clans of Yandera to unite and organise themselves to seek a bigger share in the 20-year project due to come on-stream in 2015.
He plans to have the umbrella body in place in the next few weeks to ensure that the government and Marengo Mining conduct proper social mapping and land identification is done according to law.

Yama was adamant that the land-based tailings disposal system had not been fully checked by both Ramu NiCo and Marengo Mining.
He said an onland tailings dam for Ramu project meant creating jobs for locals and participation in spinoff by landowners as suggested to him by junior partner Highlands Pacific when he was Usino-Bundi MP in 2006.

Recognised as a chief in Yandera and Bundi, Yama said his people must be adequately compensated by the government and the company.
The destruction to the landscape and people’s hunting ground and traditional sites once lost would never be replace, which money could not replace, he added.

Production at Yandera is expected to start at 25 million tonnes a year, with an initial mine life of at least 20 years, entering world markets in 2015.
Marengo Mining could not be contacted last night for comment.

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A union for landowners? From defeat comes strength

From LNG Watch

In light of the recent decision by Justice Canning to remove the interim injunction placed on the construction of a deep sea tailings placement system for the Ramu mine, there has been a mixture of reactions. Anger and frustration punctuate facebook and other social networking sites.

On the other hand over in Waigani, Madam Luo Sho and the Minister of Mining are popping champagne corks if not literally, then metaphorically. Other companies such as ExxonMobil would also be glad that ‘sense’ has prevailed, lest landowners in Hela or other regions get their own ideas about injunctions and court cases.

Mining, gas and oil companies are complacent, overly-complacent perhaps, for two reasons. First, the national government is encircled by a network of corrupt elite – personalities in this network chop and change, but their allegiance to money remains. Public funds regularly drift off into the night, assisted by irregular accounting practices that have been tirelessly exposed by the Auditor General. These funds (and we are talking in the billions of Kina) end up being used by this national elite to speculate on property, hotels, casinos, construction companies, etc, i.e. short term industries that will ride the resource boom wave and leave PNG within nothing in 20 years.  These dynasties controlling the national government can, therefore, be relied upon to play ball with the mining industry, they have a political and economic interest in it!

The second cause of the mining industry’s complacency is the fragmented nature of the poor. They believe that landowner communities are too parochial, isolated and self-interested to unite – indeed can you imagine their fear if landowners from Madang, the Southern Highlands, Bougainville, Porgera, etc, formed a united landowners front, a union of sorts for ensuring all landowners, in all regions of PNG have their interests defended.

But such a threat to mining interests seems fictional at present. Thus,  mining companies only have to worry about isolated pockets of resistance in Ramu or Porgera etc finding a courageous lawyer or two, who possess the skill and resources to protect the community’s right to live in clean, free environments, undisturbed by the dictates of crude profit oriented industries.

In the case of Ramu nickel, this fear was temporarily ended by Justice Canning’s decision.

The appeal might succeed, it might not. We know that the national government and the mining companies will use dirty tricks – even hire goons to threaten landowners and their legal representatives. Moreover, they will bring in the high price silks from Australia and throw all the money in the world at them. We know they will also trolley in their own hire-purchase ‘experts’ and if need be legislate away basic constitutional rights.

That is why we need a united landowners front, a union, whatever you want to call it – one which can defend all communities regardless of their economic circumstances, education levels, etc. A group that is built on landowner’s solidarity – if brothers and sisters in Madang are being thrown under the carriage of MCC, then action will be taken across all mine communities in PNG in protest. Can you imagine that, MCC receiving phone calls from Exxon, Barrick Gold, Newcrest, because their operations have been shutdown by landowners standing in solidarity with their friends in Madang.

At present the mining companies and the national government are united, and they have their own unions (e.g. the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum) – landowners are not. Until they are we can only run isolated campaigns against injustice, when what we need is a united front strong enough to stand up to the bullies, thugs and corrupt cronies who dictate the rhythms of PNG’s development.

PNG is made up of a thousand simmering communities, we must turn this into a boiling pot!

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Don’t blame the miners, the problem is our corrupt leaders

By Professor  Roman Grynberg* 

I now live in Botswana. It is the great mainstream counter-example to the argument that mining is inherently destructive. Botswana exports one third of the world’s diamonds. It is hardly what I would call a great example of good government despite what the World Bank says,  but it is a good deal better (or at least was in the first 30 years of mining) than what I have seen in PNG or other resource rich countries in the islands region.

The reason is political- the elite here has reinvested the massive diamond reserves in the infrastructure and education of the country. You can see the diamonds in the roads, the schools, the dams, and the hospitals.

In defense of PNG, it does not nor never had anything like the huge Jwaneng diamond mine here in Botswana. To dig out one dollar of diamonds costs roughly 10 cents. It is the richest piece real estate on earth. The government cut an OK deal with De Beers and makes billions every year.

The elite in the mineral rich Pacific countries may have had many friends to spend and abuse the mineral and forestry resources on but they had a choice to use those resources with some wisdom or to squander them. They chose the latter and in Botswana, while they were very imperfect and made many mistakes but they did not steal, misappropriate, mismanage the mineral wealth on a massive scale.

In the end of course it will make little difference because once the diamonds are gone the wealth that was generated will not likely be sustainable and now there is evidence that the new generation of the Botswana elite is not behaving like the older generation. Corruption is growing and becoming more prevalent.

The difference between countries that have succeeded and failed ultimately rests with the quality of their ruling elite and the decisions they make. Generally speaking mining has had an awful track record in the developing world because governments have abused this wealth. Those countries with a genuinely developmental elite have prospered (eg Malaysia) and those with a parasitic elite (eg Philippines) that does not do anything but steal from its people see the non-renewable wealth of the nation in the bank accounts of the rulers.  This cannot be blamed on mining or logging per se but the decisions of those who rule.

*Senior Research Fellow, Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis

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