Monthly Archives: February 2012
This new investigative report from Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada documents how mining companies are using the world’s waterways as dumping grounds for their toxic mine wastes.
These mine wastes, or tailings, can contain up to three dozen dangerous chemicals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cyanide and threaten vital bodies of water.
Each year, mining companies dump over 180 million tonnes of these hazardous mine wastes into rivers, oceans, and lakes – that’s more than 1.5 times the amount of waste that US cities send to landfills each year.
The Troubled Waters report examines the impacts of ten corporations’ waste dumping practices in water bodies in 11 regions around the world, including those in Papua New Guinea (Barrick Gold, Newcrest Mining, MCC/Highlands Pacific, Allied Gold, BHP/Ok Tedi) Turkey, Canada, Indonesia, United States, and Norway.
The report calls on mining companies to stop using our oceans, rivers, and lakes as dumping grounds for their toxic wastes.
The report recommends additional steps that must be taken by mining companies to protect people and ecosystems from irresponsible aquatic waste disposal, including dry stacking and backfill, where safe, and adopting measures to produce less waste.
Recent dead fish surfacing in the Markham and Watut rivers is a rare thing. Locals also report fish gills turning red and vegetation along the river is changing colour.
Locals also report a Kenworth truck carrying a container ran off the Mare bridge and landed in the river. MMJV company officials were on site and warned the people to stay away from the container because “it had dangerous chemicals inside”. This incident happened on February 2. Three days later company officials came with police and moved the container out of the river and took it back to Lae.
There were heavy rains soon after this incident.
Reports of dead fish, eels, of different age groups and recently of a crocodile came in a few days later.
There’s increased interest in Papua New Guinea by major global energy companies keen to unlock the value of the country’s substantial oil and gas assets says Radio New Zealand.
Last week, Mitsubishi entered into a joint venture to develop leases held by Canada’s Talisman Energy in Western Province for potential gas exports.
Exxon Mobil is already leading the major Liquefied Natural Gas project in PNG while this month, Shell announced it’s setting up an office in Port Moresby to further its alliance with the state energy company, Petromin.
And now PNG’s Oil Search Ltd has announced its drilling activities in the Gulf of Papua are attracting interest from major players.
Johnny Blades reports:
The full extent of PNG’s energy resources is still unknown, but exploration activities underway are throwing open doors of big business opportunity.
Oil Search says recent extra gas discoveries would support a third 3.3 million tonne supply for the PNG LNG project, which it says could double PNG’s gross domestic product.
Development of PNG’s oil fields has been ongoing for almost two decades but according to Gordon Ramsay, an analyst for the global financial services company UBS, the gas sector is beginning to take off in a major way:
“Gas is starting to be commercialised and there’s some world class gas discoveries in Papua New Guinea. The Hides field is quite large and one of the cornerstone fields behind the PNG LNG Project which is slated to come on stream towards the end of 2014. (Canadian company) InterOil’s also looking at moving forward with a project in Papua New Guinea – LNG as well. So there’s activity, certainly, on commercialising the substantial gas resource that PNG has.”
PNG’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, William Duma, describes the country as virgin territory in terms of oil and gas exploration.
He’s welcomed the re-entry to PNG of Shell, who the government sees as a leader in developing the Elk/Antelope resource which is currently licensed to Interoil – a company that Mr Duma says is too small an entity to be able to do justice to the resource’s potential.
“We need more investment in our resources sector. Shell is one of the world’s largest energy companies. We’ve already got Exxon Mobil in the country. So for us, in terms of competition, we’re better off having more major energy companies showing interest and actually investing in PNG.”
Gordon Ramsay says while the main discoveries have been onshore, in remote and challenging regions like the Southern Highlands, recent drilling in the Gulf has generated excitement.
“In Papua New Guinea, I think certainly in the Southern Highlands region, the terrain has made it very difficult to explore in the area so there’s not a high level of maturity of exploration, so there’s potential to find more gas. But again, it really comes down to drilling wells and proving that up. And in the Gulf, there’s already been some discoveries but Oil search is confident there are more to be made.”
However there’s growing public discourse in PNG about the benefits from major resource extraction.
Richard Denniss of the Canberra think tank, The Australia Institute, says that just because major mining, oil and gas operators spend huge amounts promoting the benefits from their projects, such as jobs created and economic spinoffs, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.
“What we need to do is distinguish the fact that these projects cost huge amounts of money with the claim that they deliver huge amounts of benefit. When the vast majority of the money is spent on imported equipment, when the vast majority of the profits earned gop to the foreign owners, then all of a sudden the multi-billion dollar projects that we hear about often have quite small economic impacts on the local economy but very large impacts on the enviornment and also on things like the distribution of income and the way that the smaller economies are organised.”
PNG’s civil society meanwhile has repeatedly voiced concern that the growth of the resources sector will only increase PNG’s systemic problems with corruption among officials.
The Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) suggested a depletion of oxygen in the Markham River, so I ask that this be explained in simple terms. Did MMJV take samples from the river and other tributaries, or collect tissue samples to determine the actual cause of death?
Oxygen depletion may affect smaller-sized aquatic life species but based on the pictures in papers, they were bigger tough species.
Oxygen depletion often occurs in warmer months and mostly cause partial fish kills but total kills are relatively rare in recreational ponds unless there is an extremely high fish population.
I am not pointing fingers, but there should be a scientific response with proven analysed data to identify the source of this aquatic genocide.
No folks this aint no prank. AUSAID actually think you’re fools but hopefully you’re not.
AusAID pays millions to consultants who come up with the term “SUSTAINABLE MINING”. Actually, maybe they didn’t have to pay millions because BHP Billiton, the Australian criminals who destroyed the Fly River after “sustainably mining” Ok Tedi created the PNG Sustainable Development Company. I bet they must have secretly wished to call is “PNG Sustainable Mining Company” since it is the largest shareholder of Ok Tedi Mine.
Here is a quote from the AusAID webpage regarding “sustainable mining”:
“Many of Australia’s developing partner countries have substantial natural resources and are engaged in mining. Australia can provide these countries with the expertise they need to build a sustainable mining sector, making better use of revenues, improving socially and environmentally sustainable development, and growing the economy.”
Those of us in Papua New Guinea who aren’t colonized by AUSAID Mining Consultants keep looking at the Watut disaster, the Fly River disaster, the Panguna disaster and laugh at the AUSAID’s bullshit about “socially and environmentally sustainable development.” But this is no laughing matter coz AUSAID seems to be in control of the mostly AUSAID-trained Papua New Guinean so called elite who run this country.
Australia says it can provide expertise to build a “sustainable mining” sector. I bet we should ask the Bougainvilleans how the Australians were “real experts” at Panguna. The Australians certainly provided assistance to the PNG Government to crush the rebellion on Bougainville so that Panguna could be “sustainably mined” by Anglo-Australian miner, Rio Tinto.
The page also states that one of the Ten Objectives of the Australian Government is to:
“improve incomes, employment and enterprise opportunities for poor people in both rural and urban areas, including the development of sustainable mining industries to boost overall economic development.”
Well we all know whose incomes will be improved and by that we mean the Australian Mining companies and AUSAID Consultants.
By now we all should realize the obvious: AUSAID represents a separate legal entity called the Commonwealth of Australia while its “Development Partner Countries” are separate legal entities. AUSAID Consultants including those involved in so called “sustainable mining” are paid to represent the interests of a separate legal entity called Australia and therefore cannot give Independent Advice to any Foreign Government.
It’s like a lawyer representing the Miners giving legal advice to a landowner company [a separate legal entity] about the mining contract that same lawyer drew up for the miners. That lawyer cannot possibly give Independent legal advice to landowners if the Miner is paying the bills.
There is inevitably a conflict of Interest situation that therefore arises when AUSAID consultants provide so called “sustainable mining” technical assistance. The Australian Government is known to act in Australian Mining companies interest as they did on Bougainville.
I hope the Papua New Guinean sheeple who work under AUSAID “Sustainable Mining” Consultants are proud of their patriotic selves. AUSAID “Sustainable Mining” consultants just “help” provide:
“technical assistance for the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund to receive and manage anticipated revenues from the LNG project…”
While a number of Pacific nations are looking to seabed mining to generate an income the Northern Land Council in Australia’s Northern Territory is opposed to experimental seabed mining.
A number of Australian aboriginal groups have thrown joined forces to fight against experimental seabed mining.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker:Kim Hill the CEO of the Aboriginal Northern Land Council
- Listen: Windows Media
A friend of mine sent me a link from the AusAaid Website that boldly “shows” the way for us kanakas in Papua New Guinea who have very short memories and can’t think for ourselves.
The five paragraphs announces Australia’s Mining for Development Initiative aimed at “helping” developing countries use their natural resources. It says in the one of the paragraphs that “In resource-rich countries the mining sector has the ability to unlock significant socioeconomic benefits, reduce poverty and support progress towards the Millennium Development Goals…” (Now hold on there… We we’re talking about MDGs and Mining, right???) Anyway, it goes on to say: “…However, countries risk missing out on these benefits if the sector is not well managed and regulated. Already, several resource-rich countries have failed to turn mining wealth into economic and human development.”
I don’t know what happened there but did Australians just talk about improving our lives?
FLASHBACK: There was a mine on Bougainville run by an AUSTRALIAN MINING COMPANY called RIO TINO THAT POLLUTTED THE JABA RIVER. Remember that AusAID?? REMEMBER THAT? Rio Tino SUPPORTED THE WAR ON BOUGAINVILLE that killed thousands of men women and children. Now you want to talk about maternal and infant mortality and environmental sustainability?!
There’s another mine in the WESTERN PROVINCE called OK TEDI. Remember that? It is one of worst environmental disaster in the world caused by BHP – an AUSTRALIAN MINING COMPANY!!
Oh… Oh… and the Watut River in the Morobe Province… Remember that? Remember the eels that died due to cyanide poisoning caused by NEWCREST – another AUSTRALIAN MINING COMPANY? Of course, we Papua New Guineans don’t know any better…the eels died of natural causes and the Exploiter…sorry… “developer” is always right.
Well, let me just remind you of what Target 7C of Goal number 7: ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY… It says: “Key habitats for threatened species are not being adequately protected the number of species facing extinction is growing by the day, especially in developing countries…”
AusAid is being hypocritical here. How can you talk about MDGs and environmental sustainability when the Ok Tedi, Jaba and the Watut have been destroyed by AUSTRALIAN MINING COMPANIES?
Another natural habitat of a multitude of species is about to be destroyed by Ramu NiCo? Yeah, you got it… the Chinese Mining company with the bad…bad… reputation in Africa. The Chinese ARE the Bad guys aren’t they? Yep. That’s right and their partner – HIGHLANDS PACIFIC – another AUSTRALIAN MINING COMPANY will have blood of their hands when they start dumping 40 million tons of toxic waste into Basamuk Bay in Madang. People live there, you know… They get their fish and shellfish from the bay too. [GOAL 1: ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY & HUNGER]… I thought I should just put goal number 1there somewhere. That seemed like a good place.
By the way, that AUSTRALIAN MINING COMPANY , HIGHLANDS PACIFIC isn’t paying any taxes.
GULF Governor Havila Kavo said companies which had discredited Papua New Guinea by calling it a failed state should be banned from the country.
He was referring to the return by Shell and other mining and petroleum companies after leaving the country.
“Ten years ago, Shell described PNG as a failed state, gave up its operations, sold it to InterOil and left. Now they have decided to come back,” he said.
He said the government had compromised with the companies which had returned to take over InterOil who, at bad times, remained operating in the country.
“I call on the prime minister and the minister for petroleum and energy to explain to the people of PNG and, especially, the people of Gulf why the company was allowed to come and take over the Gulf LNG project,” he said.
“They ripped off the country and left. What infrastructure have they left and what positive development have they left before departing?
“Such companies had no confidence in the country. Why allow them back?”
He also urged the government to tell the people of Gulf and PNG when a petroleum development licence would be issued for the project as they had been waiting for too long.
Kavo also said there was a need to change the oil and gas laws to ensure developers improved the lives of the people and infrastructure. He said the 22.5% they gave back was nothing compared with the 72% the developers took home.
“Nothing is there to show for it. There are no towns and the lives of the people have not changed,” he said.
“There are no millionaires with private jets. Why give away everything to the foreigners while the legitimate landowners suffer with the little they are given?”