Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ramu miner to destroy one of the world’s great archaeological treasures

Mes Aynak, one of the world’s Great Archaeological Treasures, is about to be destroyed

mes-599Dave Seminara

Time is running out to save one of the world’s great archeological sites. On Christmas Day, archeologists who have been working to preserve Mes Aynak, a stunning archeological site in Afghanistan with more than 5,000 years of history, will be forced off the site to make way for a Chinese mining company that plans to extract copper from beneath the site.

The Chinese government owned company, China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC), plans to destroy Mes Aynak’s temples, monasteries, thousands of Buddhist statues, and a mountain range in order to extract what they believe is $100 billion worth of copper. But Brent Huffman, a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and others are still hoping for a last-minute solution that could preserve the site.

Huffman, 33, is making a documentary about Mes Aynak and we caught up with him before he departed for what may be his final trip to Mes Aynak before it’s completely destroyed to learn more about this site and to find out if there’s anything that can be done to save it.

What is the historical significance of this site?

The top layer of Mes Aynak is a Buddhist city that is about 2,400 years old. There are monastery complexes, temple structures, and over 400 life-sized Buddhist statues. Underneath that, there’s a 5,000-year-old Bronze-Age site. Archeologists are just starting to make discoveries in the Bronze Age site.

You’ve been there more than 10 times. How do you get there?

I can’t spend the night there because it’s in Logar province, which is Taliban country, so when the sun goes down, it’s too dangerous. The Afghan archeologists don’t stay the night either. It’s about 25 kilometers southeast of Kabul, but because the road is so crude, it can take an hour or an hour and a half to get there. And it’s dangerous, you have to travel through a few villages that are supportive of the Taliban and have a history of firing rockets at cars passing through or placing landmines on the road. So it’s nerve-racking just getting to the site.

Is it easy for Americans to visit Afghanistan?

People are surprised how easy it is. I go on a tourist visa. You need a letter of recommendation from your employer, but that’s about it. Emirates flies there, Turkish Air flies there. I’m going back to Afghanistan in December and I’ll take Turkish Air through Istanbul, then a direct flight from there to Kabul.

In your piece on CNN, you compare this site to Machu Picchu. Is it as awe inspiring as that?

Yes. The first time I saw it, I was blown away. Awe-inspiring is the right phrase. It’s a very Indiana Jones feeling. It’s an enormous site in a very isolated location.

Why isn’t Mes Aynak a UNESCO protected site?

I can’t really say for sure. This is just a rumor, but I’ve heard that UNESCO is going to leave Afghanistan altogether in 2014, which would leave the Buddhas of Bamiyan completely unguarded. A lot of NGOs in Afghanistan think it’ll be too hard to operate in the country after the troops pull out, so that may be part of their thinking.

Does the fact that this is a Buddhist site explain why the Afghan government hasn’t protected it?

Not exactly. The copper that is under the city is worth more than $100 billion. For a country where some citizens are starving, any economic activity like this sounds pretty good.

So this Chinese company, MCC, plans to destroy the site to extract what could be $100 billion worth of copper?

The contract was signed in 2007 for a 30-year lease of Mes Aynak and MCC paid a little under $3 billion for the exclusive rights to mine the site. MCC paid a first installment of $800 million and they were accused of bribery. The former Minister of Mines was allegedly paid a $30 million bribe in Dubai but he’s no longer in the government. The Chinese were never told that the Buddhist site exists before they signed the contract.

How could they not notice it?

I don’t think they actually visited the site.

And MCC eventually agreed to allow archaeologists to have three years to excavate the site?

Yes. There was a highly critical story about their plans in the Wall Street Journal, and MCC saw it as a PR nightmare, so they gave a three-year reprieve starting in 2009. And for the archaeologists, it’s been a sporadic three years because the area the site is in is so dangerous.

Who are these archaeologists?

There are three groups. The main group is a French organization, DAFA. And then there’s a team of Afghan archaeologists who are doing all the work, they are kind of the heroes in this story. They are the ones risking their lives every day to excavate the site. And then there’s an international team working underneath the Ministry of Mines, who are staying inside the Chinese MCC compound and you can see the conflict of interest there. The three groups are all doing different things and not working very cohesively together.

And now they need more time to excavate the site?

Right. Philippe Marquis, who is heading the DAFA team, said it should be a 30-year project to properly excavate and preserve the site and to discover these layers of civilizations.

I assume that there is no way to mine copper while preserving the site?

It might be possible to save the structures by using a different mining method but MCC proposes to use the open pit mining style, which is the cheapest and fastest, but most environmentally destructive method. Mining experts are telling me the Buddhist sites and the mountain range will be destroyed and they’ve already destroyed six villages in the area to prepare the site.

Were the people in the villages bought off?

Right now, the locals are extremely angry and they’re part of the violent attacks that have occurred at the site – rockets have been fired, land mines have been placed in the road – MCC and the Ministry of Mines negotiated with the villages, but the people were promised money and I don’t think they were ever paid, so now you have a lot of angry, homeless people in the area that used to live there and are now fighting back.

Have the archeologists themselves been attacked?

Yes. When MCC came in, they brought in members of the Kabul police force, so they have some officers protecting the mine. Eleven of those officers were killed recently and a landmine killed four Chinese workers. And one of the Afghan archeologists accidentally dug up a landmine at Mes Aynak. It blew up in his face and he lost his eyesight.

What about you, aren’t you concerned about your own safety?

I am. I love the site and I’m passionate about Afghanistan but it’s very difficult. I have a daughter who will turn 1 on December 12, right before I leave for Afghanistan. It’s very dangerous – every trip to Mes Aynak, I feel it.

So why are you willing to take the risk?

It’s a good question. My wife doesn’t understand it. My mother hates that I do this too. It’s really a love of Afghanistan. I started traveling there in 2004 and I fell in love with the country. To me, this destruction of this cultural heritage in Afghanistan, it represents something far greater than just this site. I fear that this will set a precedent where lots of cultural heritage sites could be destroyed.

If the international community could rally, we could stop this from happening and prevent a horrible precedent from being set.

How did this site survive when the Buddhas of Bamiyan were attacked? Why was this site spared?

It has been heavily looted already. It wasn’t flat out blown up like the Bamiyan Buddhas. The huge irony is that with MCC arriving on the scene with the Kabul police, they have served to protect the site. If MCC left, the Kabul police would go with them and because of all the press Mes Aynak received, it would be completely destroyed by looters. If UNESCO or someone like them doesn’t get involved to protect the site, it doesn’t look good.

And time is running out, MCC is set to start mining on Christmas day. Is there time left to save this site?

The December 25 date is when archeologists will be forced off the site. I won’t be there on Christmas but I don’t think they’d allow me to film the destruction of this site anyways.

What is the U.S. government’s stance on this issue?

Recently, because of my Facebook page and others who are working to spread awareness, Thailand has gotten involved to save the site in a huge way. Thais protested outside UNESCO’s office in Thailand to save the site.

I’ve also been working with the Smithsonian, who has been talking to the State Department. So we’re trying to stop this altogether or at least buy more time.

But has the U.S. government been supportive?

They have not been supportive of my efforts and my project. I’ve had contact with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and I think they are very intent on having the mining project begin, because they want to see private industry in Afghanistan succeed. That sounds good, but because of the level of corruption and environmental destruction and China’s record of mistreating workers, I don’t think it’s good for the country.

You don’t buy the argument that this project will create jobs and benefit the local economy?

No. There’s a great example of a Chinese mining company in Peru that promised many of the same things and delivered on none of them.

If this site is demolished will this be one of the world’s most important archeological sites to be destroyed?

Absolutely. This site has a 5,000-year history; it was a major hub on the Silk Road. Mes Aynak is the missing link that shows how important Afghanistan was in the history of the continent.

I suppose that the idea of attracting tourists to Afghanistan is so unrealistic at this point that no one in the Afghan government sees an opportunity in preserving the site?

Yes, unfortunately that’s right. Bamiyan is getting very dangerous as well. It was dynamited in 2001.

But it wasn’t completely destroyed?

No. And it is a tourist destination still. There are direct flights into Bamiyan but it’s pretty dangerous to get there.

For those who want to do something to help save this site, what should they do?

Check out my Facebook page. And we have two petitions, one is to have President Karzai intervene and stop this from happening, and the other is to appeal to UNESCO to have them get involved. And I have a Kickstarter campaign, which is 92% funded at this point, which does three things: 1) it will help me finish the film, 2) continue to raise awareness about Mes Aynak, and 3) 10% of the proceeds will go to Afghan archeologists to buy them computers and cameras and other equipment they don’t have.

When can we see your film?

It should be out in February or March. We have a trailer but we’re not done filming (see trailer above).

So what would happen in a best-case scenario here? Who would reimburse MCC if they aren’t allowed to mine the site?

MCC could mine in a less destructive way around the site – but I know they won’t do that because it isn’t cost effective. In a perfect world, the site becomes like Machu Picchu, and becomes a huge tourist site. I would love it if mining wouldn’t happen there at all.

[Photo courtesy of Brent Huffman]


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Protect our coral reefs from experimental seabed mining

Nalau Bingeding* | Post Courier

There is now intense debate for and against the deep-sea mining proposed for the Bismarck and Milne Bay waters. Civil societies, the public, customary land owners and sea owners, academics and university students argue that the environmental cost of the deep-sea mining is unknown and could be catastrophic therefore the proposal should be shelved for now.

Nautilus Minerals Limited (Nautilus) on the other hand is adamant that it has spent millions of dollars exploring the sea floor of the Bismarck Sea and will mine the seabed regardless of concerns raised on the environmental consequences of the mining on marine ecosystems. Moreover, Nautilus is determined to see PNG become the first country in the world to use state-of-the-art technology to do deep-sea mining because it has been given the green light to do so by the PNG government.

Neither side is willing to throw in the towel. Therefore funds are being raised right now by civil societies and the public to take the matter to court so that justice is done and the deep-sea mining proposal is shelved for now. Nautilus on the other hand is organizing public forums to appease public outcry and attempt to find a way forward.

In 2009 the Department of Environment and Conservation on behalf of the PNG government adopted a 10-year Regional Action Plan to protect coral reefs and other marine ecosystems through the Coral Triangle Initiative. The initiative included Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and PNG. Through the initiative these countries agreed to support people-centered biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, poverty reduction and equitable development.

However, the very department that signed the Coral Triangle Initiative to protect coral reefs and marine ecosystems has now issued environmental permits for Nautilus to do deep-sea mining in the Bismarck and Milne Bay waters. This action now contradicts what was agreed under the Coral Triangle Initiative and compromises the department’s position as the regulator of the environment in PNG and questions whether the department has the heart to protect the country’s coral reefs and marine ecosystems.

PNG has a coral reef area of some 14,000 km2, and ranks second to Australia (48, 000 km2) in terms of coral reef area if we exclude countries like France and others who have colonies with discrete populations of coral reefs. Much of the coral reefs in PNG occur within the Bismarck and Milne Bay waters and generally remain intact and in good health.

Reef-building corals have a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship – one organism depends on the survival of the other – with a microscopic, one cell algae species called zooxanthellae. The algae species produces oxygen, helps the coral to remove waste, and supplies the coral with carbohydrates for coral reef growth. In return, the coral reef provides the algae a protected environment and other compounds that are necessary for photosynthesis. This symbiotic relationship is so important that sedimentation of the ocean and any changes in the ocean’s temperature and pH (acidity or alkalinity) can adversely affect coral reef growth and health.

It is now known that due to the build-up of man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the world’s oceans now take in one-quarter of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is acidifying the world’s oceans and the zooxanthellae populations are being expelled from the coral reefs due to high levels of carbonic acid in seawater. Consequently, the coral reefs cannot survive without the zooxanthellae and many can starve to dead. Dead of large areas of coral reefs, usually exposed skeletons that have a white color, is known as coral bleaching. The impact of ocean acidification is not pronounced at the moment in the Pacific, but this will gradually increase in the near future.

Global warming is also responsible for warming of the world’s atmosphere and the ocean surfaces. Thus the warming of the world’s ocean surfaces has resulted in bleaching of coral reefs in some parts of the world. In the Pacific the warming of the oceans through global warming has not had any profound effect, but it is predicted that these impacts will be more pronounced in the near future.

Mining of the ocean floor in the Bismarck Sea threatens our coral reefs due to the prospect of further acidification of the oceans. It is now known that substantial damage will be done on the ocean floor. Excavation of the ocean floor will involve digging up of volcanic mounts and breaking down of 15 – 20m tall hydrothermal vents. Consequently, tons of rocks and sediments will be pumped up to ships on the sea surface in the form of slurry.

Excavation of the ocean floor will result in a change in the pH of the water column at the excavation site. Chemical elements buried beneath sediments and within rocks will be exposed to the seawater due to the damage that will be done. As a result chemical reactions will take place between the seawater and the stirred sediments and broken surfaces of the excavated rocks, thus the ocean’s pH will be altered.
From basic science one understands that a diffusion gradient is created when particles move from a high concentration area to a low concentration area. Thus if the excavation on the ocean floor turns the seafloor water column acidic due to the chemical reactions that will take place, a diffusion gradient will be created horizontally, laterally or vertical through the water column. Consequently the Bismarck Sea could turn acidic and endanger our populations of coral reefs. This combined with the looming threats posed by climate change through warming of the ocean surface and the acidification of the oceans through uptake of excessive made-made greenhouse gases from the atmosphere can cause massive bleaching of our coral reefs. Thus this threatens the survival of all other species (including man) that inhabits the Bismarck Sea and beyond.

One other effect of excavation on the ocean floor is the proliferation of certain microorganisms through change in pH of the water column. Certain microorganisms depend on temperature and pH of the water to be conducive for their exponential growth. At a certain pH and temperature, these organisms exist in small numbers, but once the conditions become conducive for their proliferation they reproduce exponentially for a certain period. Then the population decreases and levels off when food sources are depleted or the environment is no longer conducive for their reproduction.

Such a case occurred with ocean dredging for sand to reclaim land from the sea in Japan a few years ago. In the attempt to reclaim land from the sea in a seaside city in Japan a few years back, the ocean floor was dredged for sand. However, the dredging caused damage to the sea floor and released sediments and chemical elements buried beneath the sand into the ocean water column. This action changed the pH of the seawater column and as a result it created an environment that was conducive to the growth of a certain microorganism. These microorganisms then reproduced exponentially and were dispersed vertically, laterally and horizontally through the sea water column due to underwater currents.

As these microorganisms were swept by underwater currents towards the shoreline, they infected populations of seashells. Consequently, the seashells died and were washed ashore by underwater currents and the waves, with hundreds of tons of seashells littering the shoreline and the smell of rotting seashells could be inhaled some kilometers away. This was an environmental disaster.

Although ocean dredging for sand in Japan was done at depths not comparable to that proposed for the deep-sea mining in the Bismarck Sea, there is a high probability for such an environmental disaster to occur. Excavation on the ocean floor can change the pH of the seawater column and create an environment conducive for certain microorganisms to proliferate. Then these microorganisms will have to be dispersed through the water column due to underwater currents or the effect of a diffusion gradient. Thus these microorganisms can create environmental disasters if they infect higher organisms like seashells.

Much of PNG’s coral reefs remain intact and in good health at the moment. Therefore, these populationsof coral reefs need to be protected at all cost for the livelihood of our coastal populations. Moreover, the PNG government has signed a treaty under the Coral Triangle Initiative and has the obligation to protect these coral reefs and the ecosystems that exist therein. Therefore, any action contrary to supporting people-centered biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, poverty reduction and equitable development can only mean that the government is more interested in money from mining and has no concern for its own people and the very environment that their very lives depend on.

* The author Nalau Bingeding is a Research Fellow in the Land and Economic Division within the Wealth Creation Pillar at the PNG National Research Institute.

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Protesters disrupt BHP annual meeting

Sydney Morning Herald

BHP Billiton has been blamed for fuelling the Fukushima disaster and for not adequately looking after the health of mine workers in Colombia in protests outside the mining giant’s annual meeting in Sydney.

Dozens of environmental and social campaigners gathered outside the Sydney Convention Centre on Thursday. A number of protesters unfurled banners reading “BHP dirty deeds” and “Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima” from the top of the building.

A police spokesman said four abseilers who scale the centre to hang the banners were arrested. They were being questioned at Surry Hills police station and could be charged later today, the spokesman said.

The protesters – who represented environmental groups the Mineral Policy Institute, the Conservation Council of Western Australia, the London Mining Network and Friends of the Earth – also distributed an eight-page booklet titled Alternative Annual Report, which listed their complaints against BHP Billiton in the Kimberley and at the Olympic Dam uranium mine in South Australia.

They were joined by Edwin Mejia, a union leader from Colombia, who said he travelled from the South American country to highlight the health and social issues facing mining workers and people living near mines.

“Workers experience very bad conditions [in Colombia] compared to the workers in Australia,” Mr Mejia said, citing the town of Albania as an example.

“Why? We are coming to ask to be treated the same as Australian workers.”

Adriana Trujillo, who distributed the alternative report outside the meeting, said she was concerned about the impact miners such as BHP Billiton had on the environment.

“Climate change is a massive issue,” she said. “The answer is not nuclear energy, nor is it mining more coal.”

Other campaigners made themselves heard during the annual meeting.

Anti-uranium protester Laura Hogan, of the West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, shouted “Uranium is blood money” and distributed the alternative report after BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers’ speech to shareholders in a packed auditorium.

She said she was campaigning against BHP Billiton’s sampling of workers’ radiation levels at the Olympic Dam mine.

One shareholder called Jack had a different complaint, repeatedly expressing his frustration with what he believed were inadequate shareholder returns.

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To meet in Sydney is crucial

Klareh | ACT NOW!

The Sydney Hilton

I am officially enlightened today! All thanks to the report titled ‘Chamber: Sydney Meet Crucial’ in The National Newspaper by Malum Nalu highlighting why the 2012 PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Investment Conference can only be held at the Sydney Hilton.

The conference must happen overseas because 1) Foreign Business Investment can only be encouraged by holding ‘First Class International Conferences’ in overseas ‘First Class Hotels’ (preferably in Australia) and 2) The Hospitality Industry in PNG does not have the capacity to provide a ‘First Class Conference’ like the Sydney Hilton does and the only other consideration in PNG would have been the Gateway Hotel because The Grand Papua, The Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Airways are just…chopped liver!

Oh yeah and 3) Networking best happens when you GO to people and meet them, not by inviting and enticing people to come to you.

Never mind that PNG and Australia have completely different (and at times opposing) business, political and diplomatic dynamics with different nations! That doesn’t matter! All the ‘first class’ investment partners, banks and superannuation funds frequent Sydney and that’s all that matters.

I am so glad that I have that cleared.

Now I am aware how inexperienced, inferior, incapable not to mention unattractive PNG is compared to other ‘first class’ nations NOT TO MENTION how little the actual minerals and petroleum resources are worth!

Is this a case of ‘finally taking the rosy-coloured glasses off’ or is it just the twisted, money-hungry, prejudice logic of non-Papua New Guineans?

Yu yet skelim….


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Chamber: Sydney meet crucial

Malum Nalu | The National

Papua New Guinea Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says the biennial PNG resource conferences in Sydney, Australia, are essential to promote the country overseas.

Chamber executive officer Greg Anderson said this yesterday when asked as to why the conference was held in Sydney instead of PNG where the resources were.

“It comes up every two years,” he said.
 “We are promoting ourselves internationally and you can only do that by going overseas.
 “We have one (mining and petroleum conference) in PNG, and one in Sydney.
“ Next year will be in PNG.”

Anderson said the conference was held in Sydney for the very same reasons why the Australia-PNG Business Council held its conferences in Brisbane.
 “We have to reach out to people, tell them that we’re here,” he said.
 “There’s a whole range of people in financial circles in Sydney who will be attending the conference, including big banks, investment partners, superannuation funds, etc.
 “We also hope to attract major new players in exploration.
 “It’s all about networking. 
“This is an opportunity to meet them all and interact with them all.”

Chamber councillor and Talisman corporate affairs manager, Richard Kassman, said there was also the issue of Port Moresby’s capacity to host such a big conference.
 “One of our big issues is if we have bigger hotels (in PNG), we would have more people attending,” he said. 
“Sydney is a very popular international destination for conferences.
“ For example, at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby, capacity is an issue.

“As a nation, we need to be able to go and showcase our nation internationally at a first-class conference.
 “It’s (Sydney) a good location where we can go overseas, and hold our heads up, for hosting a first-class international conference.

The Dec 3-5 conference at Sydney Hilton Hotel, which will be opened by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill next Monday, will have conferences on the first two days and seminars on the third. 
A trade fair will also be held.
 Topics to be discussed on the first day include PNG Resources and the international experience, contribution of the PNG resource sectors, LNG update, and new mineral projects and potential developments.

The second day will discuss mining projects, building capacity for the workforce and the community, mining projects and petroleum overview, and challenges for the resources sectors.

The seminars to be held on the third day will focus on funding resource exploration and development for government and industry in PNG, PNG petroleum exploration update, and PNG mineral exploration update.

“We’re also getting treasury to present on the sovereign wealth fund,” Anderson said. 
“Successful landowner company, Trans Wonderland, will also do a presentation during the main conference.”

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Ross: Mt Kare on cusp of greatness

The National

Indochine Mining Ltd is on the “cusp of greatness” with its Mt Kare project on the border of Hela and Enga, according to chairman Ian Ross.

He said at the company’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Monday that there was a “burgeoning view within the markets that Indochine is on the cusp of greatness, given how far we have advanced in 18 months and what we aspire to achieve in the next 18 months”.

“The validation is provided in the level and quality of institutional support in the potential of the Mt Kare project,” Ross said.

“Indochine has delivered on its stated targets for the last 18 months.

“The company has completed the first ever, publicly released, pre-feasibility study on the major Mt Kare gold/silver project in Papua New Guinea, as well as the first stage of a landowner investigation study, during recent months.

“These are major developments and demonstrate rapid progress from the acquisition stage last April 2011.
“Post year-end, the company announced the identification of bonanza gold zones which suggests significant future upside opportunity in the project.”

Ross said the company had continued to release high grade gold-silver drill results from the 58 diamond core holes completed for 7,500m of drilling.

Best results included 38m at 21 grams per tonne gold and 4 metres at 420g/t gold.
Drill results will continue to be released during December and January which will probably include further high grades.

Drilling is about to restart on the bonanza zones.
These zones are where grades range from 100 to 400g/t gold.

“The landowner investigation study has been an important focus for the on-site team as it has been conducted in accordance with the Land Act for the first time and will be progressed further next calendar year to allow for future benefits to flow to local communities from the project,” Ross said.

“As chairman, I take this opportunity to thank the pre-feasibility study team and the community affairs team for all their efforts this year,” Ross said.

“The on-site team has been led by George Niumataiwalu and I commend him on his leadership and thank all of the management, staff and consultants who have made the project’s progress a reality.

“Since year-end, we have added Tony Burgess as a technical consultant and thank him for his work on identifying the bonanza zones, based on his decade of discovery of high grade ounces at the neighbouring world-class Porgera gold mine.

“His insight has supported our long-held belief about the similarity between the two deposits and therefore the growth potential of the Mt Kare gold/silver deposit.

The PNG Mines Department (the MRA), the federal, provincial and local governments, as well as the local community, have shown considerable support for the project and I would like to commend them for their support,”  Ross said.

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Govt laws enticing giant international investors

Konopa Kana | Post Courier

The Twelfth Mines and Petroleum 2012 bi-annual conference that is schedule to be held in Sydney, Australia next month is part of the resource industries strategy to market PNG’s highly lucrative sector in the international arena to high profile investors.

This PNG conference that will be held in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel, the hub of the commercial networking on December 3-5 will see the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill give his keynote address, with Minister for Petroleum and Energy William Duma and Minister for Mining Bryon Chan.

The conference will see international investors, politicians, bureaucrats, international media and delegates attending this bi-annual meet which is segmented into eight sessions over three days.

It will focus on the mining industry’s exploration, development and production phase.

The theme of the conference is ‘foundation for growth and prosperity: with success comes responsibility’ and topics that will be highlighted in the conference are funding resource exploration and development for government and industry in PNG, plus PNG petroleum and mining exploration update.

Talisman Country Director Richard Kassman said that a lot of Giant Corporations in the mining and petroleum sector are prepared to come into the country because of the government’s intervention in amending environment and conservation laws.

Mr Kassman said that for instance when Talisman and Mitsubishi Corporation came into Western province there was a lot of enquires about the environment condition where the exploration will take place because of the high risk that is involved that could affect the price of markets shares.

He said that Mitsubishi was satisfied with the current system of governance and compliance that are in place which makes PNG a very attractive destination for giant investors in the likes of Shell (Dutch), Chevron (USA), Exxon Mobil (USA), Talisman (Canada), Barrick (Canada etc.

“Exploration is a very expensive exercise which can take up to 20 years until the actual production takes place and can cost up to US$40-50 million just to drill a well.

“I think we need to thank the previous government to establish a tax and compliance regime of the oil and gas act that makes PNG an attractive location for world class developers to come and invest in our country,” Mr Kassman sai.

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Protestors gather outside BHP AGM in Sydney

ABC Radio Australia

A protest is taking place outside BHP Billiton’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney.

The tenure of chief executive Marius Kloppers is expected to be at the top of the agenda, but social and environmental activists are trying to force environmental and social issues to the fore.

BHP ran the OK Tedi Copper mine in Papua New Guinea, which it handed over more than a decade ago after an environmental controversy.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Dr Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner, Friends of the Earth (Australia)

Listen online

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Frontier Resources continues to find gold in Papua New Guinea

MENAFN / ProactiveInvestors

Frontier Resources has received positive gold assay results from soil sampling at its Sudast project in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea.

Gold was found in samples taken from 13 zones covering the 3 kilometre length of the Adelaide soil grid as well as nine zones at the Feiori soil grid.

Notable results include 2 metres at 15.6 grams per tonne (g/t) gold and 2 metres at 8.4g/t gold from the Adelaide and Cornucopia prospects.

The samples follow previous Frontier hand trench results including 2 metres at 21.71g/t gold, 2 metres at 39.85g/t gold and 2 metres at 22.34g/t gold.

Follow-up exploration consisting of geological mapping, reconnaissance and hand trenching started at the Feiori Prospect a week ago to assess the excellent new soil anomalies.

Landowners at the Adelaide-Cornucopia Prospects are mapping their land boundaries so follow up exploration can commence in their area in early 2013.

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PNG stands firm on Ross Garnaut ban

Adam Gartrell, | AAP

Papua New Guinea’s leader is standing firm on his decision to ban Australian climate change adviser Ross Garnaut from entering his country.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill maintains Professor Garnaut insulted his nation’s leaders during a media interview and is no longer welcome there.

Prof Garnaut, who is chairman of Ok Tedi Mining, was quoted by The Australian newspaper as saying that with such an accumulation of wealth in PNG, it was “tempting for political figures to think of better ways of using it right now rather than putting it into long-term development”.

Mr O’Neill said Prof Garnaut’s statement was not true and could damage his country’s reputation.

“As a leader of the country I cannot stand by and allow comments like those to continue,” he told reporters at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

“It was irresponsible. He has to take ownership of that statement.”

Mr O’Neill says his government has sought an explanation.

“Some of the explanations he’s given to us are not acceptable to us,” Mr O’Neill said.

Mr O’Neill has previously said Prof Garnaut, who until recently was also chairman of the PNG Sustainable Development Fund (PNGDF) trust, would not be allowed back in until control of the Ok Tedi mine was given back to the PNG people.

The trust was given ownership of the Ok Tedi mine, located in PNG’s Western Province, by mining giant BHP Billiton.

Mr O’Neill claims BHP is running the PNGSDF by remote control from Melbourne and has questioned whether the 37-year-old nation had benefited from the project.

The prime minister on Wednesday reiterated his call for BHP to back off.

“There is no longer a valid reason for it to continue to exercise any control over the board appointments to that fund,” he said.


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