Monthly Archives: June 2012

Tolokuma mine resumes operation

By Patrick Talu | Post Courier

Tolukuma Gold Mine (TGM), the 100 percent nationally owned mine has resumed operation on Wednesday afternoon after aggrieved landowners lifted the taboo placed on the mine ten days ago.

After two days of negotiation between Patromin PNG Holding Ltd (Petroimin) as the owner of TGM, Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) as a stakeholder and the Yulai Landowners Association (YLA), the landowners removed the plant through their own Goilala customary procession, a way of reversing the taboo placed to stop the mine’s operations .

The lifting of the taboo was after Petromin and YLA entered into a special agreement to address the landowners’ grievances mutually.

Among the requests Petromin made commitment to; give 5 per cent equity in the mine consistent with government’s mining policy and also to look at seting up a business development office subject to establishing a mechanism as to how the landowners can have 50 per cent interest of all contracts in TGM. Petromin through its managing director and chief executive officer Joshua Kalinoe also agreed to pay all outstanding payments including a K600,000 for YLA; set a desk for YLA at TGM office in Port Moresby and pay other outstanding financial obligations for the exploration activities incurred.

The MD also agreed to have direct communication with YAL and look at building capacity and training for mine area workforce while making commitment to review working condition for genreal Papua New Guinean workforces as part of Petromin’s human resources policy review.

He also commited to work with the State to look at the Tolukum Access Road to Port Moresby.

As a party to the special agreement YLA chairman George Gusi and his chiefs representing three major clans agreed to acknowledge Petromin as the 100 per cent owner of TGM and also agreed to work closely with Petromin and TGM management team to protect the commercial interest of the mine.

Mr Gusi also apologised to Mr Kalinoe, his senior Petromin management team and MRA’s mining coordinator Pelis Watnabar for the mine closure and all the loss incurred. Mr Kalinoe said,” Petromin learned a valuable lesson. What happened is history. Don’t lean too much on history and live the past because the past will destroy the future. Let’s find a way forward to develop the mine,” Mr Kalinoe said. Mr Kalinoe who is also a director on the TGM Board expressed confidence in the current TGM management team headed by acting general manager David Laulau and his senior team at Petromin with the likes of Lyndah Brown-Kola (Acting General Manager Minerals) and Sam Inguba (General Manger Corporate Services) to lift TGM to a next level. The reopening mining proceeded with a pig killing and exchange of betel nuts between Petromin and YLA chiefs before removing the taboo marking the resumption of mine’s operation.

Mr Kalinoe will fly into Tolukuma today and personally deliver the K600, 000 and a K50,000, part of the K100,000 cash gift as part of the customary peace ceremony while the next K50,000 will be paid next month.



Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Country Manager – Newcrest furthers propaganda on proposed Fiji copper mine

By Frances Lagilagi

The Fiji Sun (24 June) reported from the Namosi Provincial Council meeting ‘assurances’ to Namosi landowners, from the Newcrest Country Manager, Greg Morris. This list of assurances were meant to appease traditional leaders of the land that the Australian company is a friend, not foe. In the end though, this meeting brought further anxiety to the people about the proposed project pitting the ‘high chief’ of Namosi against the people of the land. Greg’s words instead of appeasing, further inflamed the situation confirming for the people of Namosi, that lies will continue to rain on them as long as the  Australian mining giant and their partners want to extract minerals under the ground.

Perhaps Greg is too new to Fiji that he has missed the process that has led to the 92% of the landowners represented by the TNLC saying ‘NO MINING’. Perhaps, Greg, being new to Fiji still thinks that Fijians are incapable of saying ‘enough!’.

What would help Greg and Newcrest (NJV) is to hear what the people are saying – NO MINING! This petition seeking the views of the people on whether or not they would want the SPL1420 license to continue yielded the 92% result that ‘no, the people do not want the SPL to continue’. They are not even looking at the proposed mine for they believe that the PM has their interest at heart.

Yet, Greg attends the Namosi Provincial Council meeting and is given the time to spread the propaganda. He obviously dazzled the Tui Namosi with promises of ‘no relocation’, ‘ore process site’, ‘no cyanide or mercury’, and ‘mine closure and rehabilitation plan’. Because  Greg believes his own propaganda, he simply expects Fiji to roll over and say ‘yes’ just like his friend the Tui Namosi.

So, just for Greg’s benefit, there is a need to return to the recent past to understand the stagnated present: the Prime Minister of Fiji stopped SPL1420 because Newcrest has not been rehabilitating the land even under the exploration license. The great word ‘rehabilitation’ for Newcrest is this – ‘today, I uproot and cut down your dakua tree and in its place I will plant ‘co’ (par grass)’. This was the last in a long line of Newcrest lies, to the people of Namois and Fiji that the Prime Minister immediately suspended the SPL1420 until ‘proper’ rehabilitation work is completed. It has now been 6 months since that landmark decision by Bainimarama. And one of the main reason why Greg is now attending vanua meetings throwing Newcrest ‘facts’ around the place.


Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Fiji, Human rights

Lessons from the blockade

Our Pacific Ways |

Photo: David Hempenstall

Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) said in early May the people of Bougainville’s future depended on the reopening of the Panguna mine. At BCL’s annual general meeting in Port Moresby last month, chairman Peter Taylor said:

“There is widespread agreement today that Bougainville’s economic future needs mining if it is to be able to fund services for the people from its own resources, as well as address future opportunities for economic and social development.”

But Bougainvilleans do have a choice for their economic future not solely based on mining. We know this because, during the war, Bougainvilleans found they were very capable of supporting themselves outside of mining: outside the cash economy altogether.

The wonderful book, As Mothers of the Land [1] – detailing the incredible and decisive role played by women throughout the war and subsequent peace process – provides an overview of this successful adaptation to self-sufficiency during the blockade.

Josephine Tankunani Sirivi, for example, describes how people returned to traditional gardening knowledge and the barter system.

“Now we no longer had cash, paid work or any access to processed food, yet we were able to produce enough to feed our people and to share with others,” she says.

Rather than society succumbing to anarchy and starvation, “it was a time of sharing and caring wholeheartedly for one another.”

It was also a time of innovation: learning how to use coconut oil for cars and power; designing hydro-electric power from mountain streams; setting up a short-wave radio station (Radio Free Bougainville); producing rice, oil and soap; using cocoa to produce bleach; and re-learning the use of various herbs and vines, tree bark, roots and leaves for medicine.

Perhaps most impressively, these (primarily women-led) initiatives created an outstanding health and education infrastructure entirely through community organisation and without wages, let alone millions of dollars of foreign aid. Marilyn Taleo Havini describes this revolution:

“Women’s groups began by forming family, church and non-denominational fellowships to feed orphans and widows, to teach, nurse, pass on recipes, seeds and agrarian skills such as permaculture, and to conduct technical and secretarial training.

“By 1996, several of these community initiatives had come together under (the) name Bougainville Community Based Integrated Humanitarian Program (BOCBIHP). Behind the blockade, by the time the peace process began in 1997, they had established 12 health centre bases that supplied 23 aid posts and 47 village health clinics. The nursing school in the jungle graduated trainees and health workers including 36 village midwives, 36 village aides and 23 aid post orderlies.

“BOCBIHP fielded 80 qualified schoolteachers and 113 volunteer grade-10 graduates as their assistants. They opened 71 community schools with an overall enrollment of 4,726 pupils. They also opened a secretarial school and a bible college.”

Sirivi sees the self-sufficiency movement as having enabled many people to survive the war. In addition, “new communal respect for traditional knowledge and jungle skills added to the pride of being Bougainvillean.”

If these outcomes were possible under the extreme conditions of the war, what amazing efforts could be achieved today, in a time of peace?

Mining has left a deep stain on Bougainville, and mining alone won’t remove it. Regardless of whether Panguna is reopened or not, Bougainvilleans can benefit – like all Papua New Guineans, and all Pacific Islanders – by organising themselves to control their own communities, as described above.

Not being reliant on mining, these communities can survive and thrive when they control their own development.

[1] Tankunani Sirivi, J. and Taleo Havini, M. (eds.)2004, …As Mothers of the Land: The Birth of the Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom. Canberra: Pandanus Books


Watch a movie about the Bougainville ‘eco-revolution’ during the crisis, ‘The Coconut Revolution’:

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Mining dilemma for Fiji

Croz Walsh | Croz Walsh blog

Mining, and especially opencast and submarine mining, always raises issues that only specialists can answer. A new mine will create jobs, royalties for landowners, income for shareholders, tax revenue for government, and put more money in the local economy.  But the main benefactors are usually the mining companies that send much of their profits offshore, and the mine may also create costly environmental hazards that far exceed its benefits.

This is the dilemma that Fiji now faces as it seeks economic growth in a depressed global economy. To flourish, it cannot continue to rely on tourism, a recuperating sugar industry, and smaller contributions from remittances, garment manufacturing, timber and Vatukoula gold. The new focus on mining, if successful, will greatly assist Fiji’s economic recovery.

Namosi Copper and Gold

The Tui Namosi has called the proposed copper and gold mine in Namosi “a blessing” but environmental groups and some landowners are far from convinced. The Country Manager of Namosi Joint Venture, Greg Morris, assured the  Namosi Provincial Council yesterday that no cyanide or mercury will be used to produce copper concentrate from the ore. The project still requires landowner and government permission to go ahead, and the company is currently completing  project studies and an Environmental Impact Assessment report for landowner and government approval.

Meanwhile, villagers have already benefited by a $520,000 grant for students from Namosi and tikina Waidina students wishing to pursue tertiary education, from community and infrastructure development programmes paid for by the Joint Venture, and $200,000 have been paid to landowners this year during the exploration programme.  Two thousand jobs will be generated if the construction of the mine goes ahead.

Bua Bauxite Mine

The newly opened bauxite mine in Bua province, Vanua Levu, worked by Xinfa Aurum currently employs 150 permanent and and 250 seasonal workers. Landowners have so far received close to $20,000 a year for leases and $250,000 for compensation. Mine Manager Vanuaca Basilio says about $2,000,000 in revenue is generated into the economy every month.

Ba River Ironsands 

Yet another project is the dredging of ironsands from the Ba River that are to be shipped to Lautoka for export. Australian miner Amex Resources employs 300 people and is estimated to remain profitable for up to 21 years. Dredging will help minimise flood damage but the flip side is that it could also adversely affect fishing and the mangrove ecosystem.

Anti-government blogger Navosavakadua in FijiToday says the company’s 91% internal rate of return is “unconscionable” when 30% is the usual rates hoped for by companies investing in developing countries. He says “the illegal regime was practically giving away the nation’s resources.” I have no way of accessing his claim.

Gold at Wainivesi and Mt Kasi

Two further developments are the small gold mine at Wainivesi near Suva and the reopening of the Mt Kasi gold mine in Vanua Levu.

Whether any or all of these ventures turn out to be “blessings” is too early to call.

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Joint Venture gives pledge to Namosi council

By Losalina Rasoqosoqo | Fiji Sun

No decision has been made to develop a mine in Namosi but if it happens, it will be operated under strict environmental conditions, miners Namosi Joint Venture (NJV) has clarified.

Country manager Greg Morris, made these comments while addressing members of the Namosi Provincial Council in Navua.

He said NJV needed to finish the studies and present the Environment Impact Assessment to the community and the Government for approval prior to a decision being made to develop the mine.

Mr Morris assured the potential of two open mine pits at Waisoi would not require any villages to be relocated and would not use the Sovi River Basin for mining or related infrastructure.

He said even the ore would be processed on-site to produce a dry copper concentrate for export, initially from Suva Port and no cyanide or mercury would be used to produce copper concentrate from the ore. The clarifications are in contrary to recent speculations.

“The mine would be constructed and operated under strict environmental conditions required by approvals issued by the Fijian Government and in accordance with all applicable laws and standards,” Mr Morris said.

“A mine closure and rehabilitation plan would be developed in consultation with the government and community.”

Mr Morris said the mine is expected to operate for between 20 to 25 years and employ around 1000 people on a permanent basis.

“Current estimates are the mine could cost around $2 billion to develop, take over three years to build and employ around 2000 people during the construction period,” he said.

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In response to Tui Namosi, representative for Newcrest in Fiji

Francis Lagilagi* | Fiji

On Thursday June 21, 2012, Tui Namosi (Suliano Matanitobua) said in the Namosi Provincial Council meeting “that a lot of people in Namosi [Members of ‘his’ Province] are lazy people.” He said this after it was reported in the Namosi Provincial Council meeting that the people of Namosi continued to ask Government for money.

Speaking in Fijian language he added – “…If anyone cannot use his knife to plant or to utilize the resources that we have been blessed with, than he should leave my Province and move elsewhere or move to where you are married too.”

The above statement by Suliano is disappointing, arrogant. More importantly, Suli’s outburst illustrates 2 disturbing points that all citizen’s of Fiji should be aware of: first, that chiefly titles that do not sit with the rightful holder clearly lacks mana. Second, Tui Namosi’s verbal outburst against the people of Nabukebuke is really about his support – for Australian company, Newcrest.

No Vanua, No Mana – it is common knowledge in Nabukebuke that Tui Namosi is not the rightful heir to the title of Tui Namosi. This title was wretched by him through unacceptable means from the vanua o Nabukebuke with the result being this poor quality leadership that finally become visible at the NPC illustrating –

  1. That as a Traditional leader, Suli, remains disconnected from his people.
  2. His Leadership style is very authoritative; believing whatever he says to go unchallenged
  3. He is misusing the power that is associated with his leadership.
  4. He does not command the respect of the people of Nabukebuke.
  5. He is NOT a visionary –like a person who cares about the future generation of Namosi, Naitasiri, Rewa and Fiji.

Ratu Suli questioned the roles of parents, village headmen, district representatives and other stakeholders on the example they were setting their children. Suliano, what standards are you setting for the people of Namosi? Including your children and future generation?

He went on further to challenge ‘his’ people to play their part in the development of their province.

This raises the second point: Representative of Newcrest: It does NOT escape Fiji’s attention that when Suliano spoke against the people of Namosi, he did so with the country manager of the proposed Copper Mine (Newcrest) sitting garlanded and smiling beside him. He spoke down to ‘his’ people in direct relation to their position on the proposed Newcrest Copper Mine.

Fact – the people of Namosi do NOT want the mine and have steadfastly stated this over and over again. They say that it is destructive to their livelihood and resources for their future generations and for the future of the Provinces of Rewa and Naitasiri.

Tui Namosi, Suliano Matanitobua, clearly has a different opinion, supports the Newcrest proposed mine and so expects ‘his’ people to agree with him. So, who did he represent at this meeting? Assessments indicate that Suli –

  1. Does not care about the negative implications of development on the people –Socially and environmentally; to some he does care about money.
  2. Does not care about the daily livelihood of his people who depend on their land and waterways for healthy food and have done so for generations until Newcrest stepped in.
  3. Does not care about women who normally go out into the creeks and bushes and help put food on the table.

See, to ensure that the rest of Fiji also side with Newcrest, Suliano brought attention to the people themselves calling them ‘lazy’ in front of the man who represents the million-dollar Australian miner. But the people of Fiji know better – they know that  vanua o Nabukebuke are represented through the

TNLC (Taukie Namosi Landowners Committee) and they want Newcrest and all plans for mining on their land out of Fiji for good.

By the way, it was the Public Relations officer for Newcrest who first called the people of Nabukebuke ‘lazy’ late last year. For the Tui Namosi to use the same word is doubly offensive.

* Frances Lagilagi is a friend of the people of Nabukebuke and dislikes bullies. 


Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji, Financial returns, Human rights

PNGSDP invests in Highlands Pacific and its marine waste dumping

Highlands Pacific is a junior partner in the Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province which, despite strong opposition from local people, dumps its toxic tailings waste directly into the sea via a 450m pipeline. 

PNGSDP buys 13% of Highlands Pacific

By Malum Nalu

The PNG Sustainable Development Program, majority shareholder of the giant Ok Tedi mine, has subscribed 13.04% private share placement in Highlands Pacific for US$15 million, chief executive officer David Sode announced on Monday.

Highlands Pacific also announced on Monday that it had entered into a share placement agreement with PNGSDP, which invested US$15 million into Highlands.

The placement allows PNGSDP a seat on the Highlands Pacific board.

“The assets of Highlands Pacific represent good value at the agreed price,” Sode said.

“Two of the Highlands Pacific assets — the Star Mountains exploration assets and the share of the Frieda River development property — have potentially large synergies with the company’s interests in the future of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd, and in North Fly development.

“The synergies include the use of the North Fly power resources being developed by PNG Energy Developments Ltd (PNGSDP’s joint venture with Origin Energy Ltd), the use of the education and training facilities of the Star Mountains Institute of Technology in Tabubil, and the use of town facilities in Tabubil.

“The effective use of these synergies will materially assist the Star Mountains and Frieda River mining developments, and enhance PNGSDP’s development interests in the North Fly.

“PNGSDP looks forward to working with Highlands Pacific to advance the shared interests of the two companies.”

Managing director of Highlands Pacific John Gooding said on Monday:

“As stated the other day the relationship with PNGSDP has the potential to deliver significant benefits to Highlands, giving it the financial and technical backing of a very large investment company that has strong ties in Papua New Guinea and is the majority shareholder of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.”

Highlands Pacific said under the agreement, PNGSDP would subscribe for 102,930,373 fully paid ordinary shares to raise US$15 million (A$14.9 million equivalent), which results in an issue price of approximately A$0.145 per share.

Upon completion of the placement, Highlands Pacific will have approximately US$23 million in cash reserves and will be well placed to continue its exploration programme at Star Mountains for the next 18-24 months.

As part of the agreement, Highlands will appoint a PNGSDP nominee to the Highlands’ board of directors.

The placement will be undertaken by Highlands under its 15% limit and at the completion of the placement PNGSDP will hold a 13.04% interest in the company.

The placement will be conditional on Highlands obtaining a waiver from ASX Listing Rule 6.18 to grant PNGSDP a right to participate on a pro-rata basis in any future capital raisings.

It is anticipated that this waiver will be granted shortly and following the receipt of this Highlands will receive the placement funding from PNGSDP.

The rights attaching to this fall away should PNGSDP’s shareholding in Highlands drop below 10%


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

New PNG govt should follow Lao lead and halt new mines and land grabs

The Lao government says it will freeze new mining investment and land allocations until 2015, amid concerns about its social and environmental impact on local communities.

The Minister of Planning and Investment Somdy Duangdy has told state media the decision was made after receiving complaints about projects encroaching on villagers’ land and causing environmental problems.

He says all existing projects will be reviewed and future projects will not be approved until the government has conducted thorough land surveys.

The announcement has been welcomed by land rights activists, but they warn that previous moratoriums have not been enforced.

“Several concessions have been documented to undermine national laws, as well as food security and well-being of communities,” Land Issues Working Group coordinator Hanna Saarinen said in a statement.

The government must “ensure that investments benefit the Lao society as a whole. Local people should be given the right to choose whether or not to have a land concession in their area.”

The Vientiane Times says the government has approved nearly $US25 billion of investment since 1998, mainly in the mining, hydropower and agricultural sectors.

The presence of foreign, particularly Chinese, investors in Laos, a landlocked communist country of about six million people, has raised increasing local concern despite bringing much needed foreign cash.


Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Fiji landowners reject council support for Namosi mine project

Radio New Zealand 

The spokesperson of the committee that represents landowners from a district earmarked for a proposed mine in Fiji says they are concerned about comments from the Provincial Council in support of the project.

The Namosi Joint Venture, a partnership between the Australian mining company Newcrest and Japanese interests, is proposing to mine copper and gold near Suva.

The chair of the Namosi Provincial Council, Ratu Romanu Matanitobua, says they are supporting the multi-million dollar project because of what the company has done so far for the people.

But the Namosi Tikina Landowners’ Committee spokesperson, Sipiriano Nariva, says the council is not representing the landowners.

“It’s enough, they didn’t want any other exploration done to their land, what the paramount chief say it is not what the landowners view, it is his view. I have the mandate I have the concern of the landowners, that we will not support this mining company.”

Sipiriano Nariva says they are planning to meet the interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama to ask him to stop the project.


Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Fiji

PNG mining head reiterates need for economic diversity

Radio New Zealand

The executive director of Papua New Guinea’s Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says the only way of guarding against fluctuating commodity prices is by diversifying the economy.

Greg Anderson’s comment follows an announcement by the Swiss mining giant Xstrata that it plans to sell its 80 percent share in the Frieda River copper project in West Sepik.

Mr Anderson says PNG was fighting for recognition in a development portfolio that included big projects elsewhere and Xstrata’s exit isn’t indicative of investor concern about PNG as a place to do business.

But he says PNG still needs to lessen its reliance on the mining and gas industry, something successive governments have been unable to achieve.

“For instance widening the agricultural base, widening the tourist base. But unfortunately that’s the way it still is at the moment and it’s following a parallel trend to Australia. Australia’s narrowed its base as well.”

Greg Anderson says suggestions that PNG’s political situation is making investors jittery are untrue.

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