Monthly Archives: April 2012

PNG soldiers deployed at Porgera and Exxon-Mobil sites

Up to hundreds of Papua New Guinea soldiers have been deployed to the Highlands region where security problems are threatening two major resource projects, reports Radio New Zealand.

A month ago, the O’Neill government issued a callout order for security forces in Hela region and Porgera in neighbouring Enga province.

Landowner disputes have disrupted key construction work in Hela’s Hides area for the major liquified natural gas project, while Porgera’s large gold mine has ongoing problems with illegal miners.

Mark Ekepa with the Porgera Landowners Association says the defence force operation has begun.

“They’re sending up all these defence force plus police personnel up to Porgera and Hides. They came up on the 25th, 27th of this month. There were three Fokker 100 flights came up to Hagen and it looks like some will go to the LNG site and some will go to Porgera.”

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Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Kurumbukari clan queries Hagen meet for Ramu review

By Jayne Safihao

A spokeman representing one of the major clans in the Kurumbukari area where the Ramu nickel mine is situated has spoken against the current landowners association (LOA) meeting in Mt Hagen describing it as “fascinatingly spectacular”.

Ben Bobby Yoga of the Tsirigami clan on behalf of others in the same clan said it was fascinating that the Lands Titles Commission, which was still hearing disputing cases, was being convened while the MoA review was being held concurrently.

“How can these two be held at the same time when landowner issues are still not finalised? Who is representing what clans and where is their legitimacy? he said.

“All the landowning clans are currently at loggerheads over ownership of the special mining lease (SML) area.

“The commission was specifically tasked to sort this matter out but the executives of the Kurumbukari landowners association had quietly slipped out of the province and gone ahead to allegedly represent the people. This is quite absurd,” he said.

He said the Tsirigami clan was not duly informed and shocked to learn that:

  • Landowners were not informed of the MoA with most being isolated and ignored; and
  • Most of the clan representatives and even members of the Madang provincial government, who could not attend due to the current incident and stop-work by the administration, failed to understand the choice of venue for the meet; and

He said the MoA should be shelved until the LTC hearing of disputed clans are finalised.

“Many of those executives of the association are merely disputers and not landowners,” he said.

“It is because of this that we feel such a memorandum of great significance should be put on hold. We all should know the fate of our land and not just a select few”, he said.

Meanwhile the meeting in Mount Hagen was closed off to Mount Hagen based reporters as they were reliably told by various sources that the review, which included various state agencies, was still subject to changes.

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Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Lihir woes for Newcrest Mining

Newcrest mining chief Greg Robinson has defended the standard of his company’s due diligence, despite a recent acquisition that continues to disappoint, reports The National.

Poor performance at the Lihir mine in Papua New Guinea was one of several factors forcing Newcrest to downgrade its annual gold production target on Wednesday for the second time in six months.

The downgrade sparked another round of market punishment for Australia’s biggest listed gold miner, which shed A$1 to close at A$26.60 – its lowest in more than three years.

After promising to produce up to 2.925 million ounces in the year to June 2012, Newcrest is forecasting production in the range of 2.25 million to 2.35 million ounces.

High rainfall at a mine in New South Wales was part of the problem, but plant breakdowns at Lihir continue to be the major disappointment for investors.

Newcrest acquired Lihir 18 months ago and Robinson said his company’s due diligence had identified some of these problems.

Robinson said he did not expect any future impairment against Lihir and said the asset offered tremendous growth potential.

He said the company’s mines would be upgraded to withstand “extreme” rain rather than “average” rain events.

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Media reports another chemical spill at Ramu mine processing plant

Radio news in Papua New Guinea is buzzing with more allegations of toxic pollution from ships delivering chemicals to the Ramu mine processing plant at Basamuk.

According to the reports the ship Tokyo Marine was discharging chemicals on Wednesday evening when there was another spill. There are suggestions these spills may not be an ‘accident’, but are what happens after every discharge is made as that’s what seems to be happening after every ship comes in to discharge to the mine.

Local people report that the reefs around the wharf that initially turned white after the first spill two weeks ago were struggling to get their normal colors back but the new spill has completely bleached them all over.

Locals say this is the fourth chemical spill into Basamuk Bay since the MCC operated Ramu Nickel Mine was set up.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Cook Islands: TIS speaks out on experimental seabed mining

In its most recent newsletter Te Ipukarea Society posed a range of questions around experimental seabed mining. The statement is as follows:

“With the passing of the Seabed Minerals Act 2009, the pressure to move ahead with the mining of our deep sea manganese nodules is beginning to mount.

With millions of dollars on offer, and a national budget deficit, the temptation to open the door to foreign investment in the mining industry is significant.

Even now, the Canadian company Endeavour has a $15 million proposal on the table for government to consider in the sale of exploration licenses.

All this before it is clear what impact seabed mining might have on our environment and society.

While the nodules lie on the surface of the seabed and “mining” is likely to be only to a depth of 30cm, there are still several concerns TIS has regarding this industry.

  • What will SOPAC be doing to assist the Cook Islands with ensuring ecologically sustainable mining?
  • Will there be any serious research to determine the impacts of mining on the ocean ecosystem?
  • How long is sediment that is disturbed on the seabed likely to be in suspension (carried in the water)?
  • How will the nodules be brought to the ocean surface?
  • What will be done with unwanted sediment once it reaches the surface?
  • Where will the nodules be processed and what impact will this have there?

These questions are based around concerns over the impact on our fisheries and environment because of the sediment and the chemical components in the waste of nodule processing.

We also have concerns about management:

  • Will companies be able to on-sell their licenses to another company and benefit from future trading?
  • What will be done with revenue to ensure long term benefits from this non-renewable resource?
  • Are there plans to add citizens and environmental concerns groups such as ours in the Seabed Minerals Committee for improved community and stakeholder consultation?

We are pleased to know that the draft Model Contract Agreement will be a useful tool for negotiating agreements with mining companies.

We already have wealth around us (coral reefs, fisheries, tourist attractions), and we need to be very careful (precautionary principle) that whatever we do does not impact this wealth.”

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Chinese firm invests in Fiji gold mine

The Chinese company, Zhongrun International Mining, has signed an agreement to take a stake of up to 17.6 per cent in Fiji’s Vatukoula Gold Mine, reports the ABC.

It is the first major Chinese investment in gold mining in Fiji.

The deal, announced on the London Stock Exchange, will see Zhongrun take an initial stake of 9.2 per cent in Vatukoula Gold Mines by buying 9 million new ordinary shares for US97 cents each.

The option to buy a further 9 million shares at $1.24 is open until July 23rd.

That would give Zhongrun a total 17.6 per cent stake in Fiji’s oldest gold mine at a time when its share price has been languishing.

Fiji’s coup leader and interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has been working hard to boost trade and investment links with China.

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Media barred from Ramu mine meeting

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