Monthly Archives: June 2013

Bougainville genocide lawsuit thrown out by appeals court

Edvard Pettersson | Bloomberg

Rio Tinto Plc, the world’s second-biggest mining company, won dismissal of a lawsuit in the U.S. accusing it of contributing to genocide in Papua New Guinea.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco today affirmed a lower court’s ruling dismissing the case. The appeals court’s decision was prompted by an April 22 order by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in a separate case brought against Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) had scaled back application of the 1789 Alien Tort Statute.

That law, also invoked in the Rio Tinto case, has been a favorite tool of human-rights advocates seeking to hold companies responsible in U.S. courts for atrocities overseas.

The lawsuit against London-based Rio Tinto stems from the deaths of thousands of indigenous people starting in 1988 on the island of Bougainville, where Rio Tinto was part of a group operating the world’s largest open copper pit.

The case is Sarie v. Rio Tinto Plc, 02-56256, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco.)


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Scientists’ findings out: Ramu pollution already a problem

Rosalyn Albaniel-Evara | Post Courier

POLLUTION from the Ramu Nickel Project is already affecting the environment.

A marine expedition conducted in Madang last year has also revealed that there is marine life below the depth of 150 metres at the waters in Basamuk Bay.

This is contrary to earlier suggestions in relation to the multi-million kina Ramu Nickel Project, that no marine life existed below this depth that would be affected by the mine tailings that would be discharged into the waters.

The findings were revealed by a Frenchman, Professor Philippe Bouchet, and Head Scientist of the Marine Biodiversity Expedition which was conducted in the Madang waters, including the Madang Lagoon and the Bismark Sea.

The deep sea component of the survey had been conducted by a team of marine biodiversity scientists in December and on board the expedition vessel Alice.

Professor Bouchet said they had covered the Bismark Sea extensively and out of curiosity they had decided to also survey the area in front of the refinery including the canyon in the Astrolabe Bay where the Chinese project developers had sought approval to have the mine tailings discharged into.

Prof Bouchet said it was visibly evident that the environment there was already affected by the mine tailings.

He said it came to him as a surprise that no survey had been conducted in the area before the opening of the factory.

He said he had heard there were suggestions, including in the court in the country, that there was no marine life below the depth of 150 metres.

He said biologists knew this not to be true, and this had been confirmed when they carried out this exercise.

They said they had discovered, a week after the Ramu Nickel Project was officially commissioned, in front of the refinery, a deep sea community called Cold Seeps; and that the area was covered in red mud.

“Clearly the factory had started way before the project opening. The tailings has already impacted the area as everything is carpeted in red mud at depths of 800 metres,” he said.

However, he said what was also even more shocking was the discovery of the amount of garbage even at depths of 1000 metres.

“The amount of trash that was collected after just half an hour was a shock,” he said.

He said this to also be the case for the Madang Lagoon, which in comparison to the Bismark was shallower, where people swam and fished in.

“This area is no longer as pristine, with the amount of cans, old fishing nets and a lot of other garbage that had been dumped into the sea.

“Why should this be a worry? You should be worried with the kind of ooze that is now at the bottom, which has also been caused by the influx of rain water charged with sediments,” he said.

He said they had also discovered there to be a lot of sunken logs and wood in the lagoon.

He said while this was more than expected and was suggestive of an increase in logging and extenstion of plantations.

Another significant finding which he said is contained in the interim report, for which he had travelled into the country to present to those involved in the expedition, including local authorities, was the fact that some species whose habitats could be found, were missing.

He said he had developed a hypothesis that this was related to the coral triangle, but added that this would need to be tested in another expedition which they were planning to carry out in Kavieng.

He revealed that a scientific publication on the expedition would be forthcoming.

The expeditions goal, among others, was to document new discoveries of marine species and had involved a total of 139 participants from 20 nations and 40 institutions including the University of PNG.

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Fiji: Former Emperor Gold Mine workers to get redundancy payments

Tokasa Rainima | Fiji Village

Good news for hundreds of Emperor Gold Mine workers who were made redundant in 2006 as they will now be paid for the pending redundancy payments.

This comes after the Fiji Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision, ruled out the appeal against an earlier decision of the High Court, upholding the awards of the Emperor Tribunal.

General Secretary of the Communications, Mining and General Workers Union, Attar Singh said some workers have left the country and some have passed away, but their families who are the beneficiaries will receive the money.

Meanwhile a branch meeting will be held at Tavua Club this Saturday on the details of the payment.

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Ramu nickel mine: A photo essay

mine rubbish dump This is the mine’s rubbish dump situated by the roadside before the entrance of the mine. The foul stench emitted is quite overwhelming (even from where I was standing to take the picture) and birds and animals scavenge the site for food. There is no fence around the perimeters of this site.

Excavator digging at the mine site

The mine site showing excavator digging through rock and soil, the trees in the background will all be cleared. Locals mentioned the trees have been cleared and left to rot by the mine site. Madang timbers have now cashed in on the opportunity and are collecting felled trees along the mine site for free.

large storage shed

All dug up ore are stored in this shed. This shed is located on a hill overlooking a dense forest. The next photos show the foot of the hill where the forest starts. And it shows signs of vegetation die back and obvious silt from the shed accumulating in

 cleared vegetation

dying trees

dying treesHere shows the Enekuai resettlement homes built for the displaced people of KBK. Thirty (30) or so houses further back of the settlement have no access to water or electricity.

newly constructed houses

more houses

And here is the mine’s water supply plant. This is before Enekuai settlement looking back towards the mine site.

large water tank


Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

MCC on the defensive over Chromite storage; ignores transport issues

Post Courier

nespaper clipping


Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Nautilus Questioned on Economic Viability and Environmental Risks of Seabed Mining

MiningWatch Canada | YubaNet

As Nautilus Minerals gets set to present to its shareholders, concerned citizens from Papua New Guinea, Canada, and Australia continue to question the viability and environmental risks of the company’s controversial plan to build the world’s first deep sea mine.

Nautilus is in a dispute with the Papua New Guinea Government over the financing of its Solwara 1 project, resulting in the suspension of the project in November last year. With its share price sinking from over $2 to well under C$0.50 the viability of Nautilus’ venture is being called into question.

The Solwara 1 project in Papua New Guinea has stimulated widespread opposition from many sectors of PNG society – from scientists, students, university lecturers, church leaders, and members of local coastal communities.

Oigen Schulze, Director of Zero Inc., a community organisation in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea, said, “Local communities have NOT sanctioned the Solwara 1 project. Experimental mining of our seabeds is not going to provide any direct services or benefits for local communities.”

“The evidence is clear – our people have already paid a high price, both socially and economically, with land-based mining – despite the best intentions of our governments. Mining revenues have not justified the costs of damage to livelihoods and environmental degradation. The uncertainties and the risks associated with deep sea mining are even greater.”

The Deep Sea Mining (DSM) campaign has released two reports highlighting flaws in Nautilus’s EIS of its Solwara 1 project.

Dr. Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, said, “The EIS should have provided the basis for identifying risks and the development of strategies to manage them. Nautilus’s Solwara 1 EIS fails to do this. The many errors and omissions in the modelling and analysis of data means that the EIS underestimates the risks to local communities associated with Solwara 1. The liabilities to shareholders may be significant.

Natalie Lowrey, Communications Coordinator, Deep Sea Mining campaign, said, “It is clear that with the high level of concern generated by Solwara 1 in PNG, the project should not go ahead until Nautilus has gained the consent of PNG communities – and until the company can show it has addressed the serious gaps and mistakes in the EIS.”

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Coppermoly! Miner bags PNG deal

Jenny Rogers  |

COPPERMOLY marked yesterday as “a significant turning point” for the company after it sealed a $5 million deal to take full control of three mining tenements in West New Britain.

The deal will give Coppermoly immediate access to the Papua New Guinea tenements, one with a 40 million tonne copper resource.

The Gold Coast-based junior minerals explorer announced it had entered into an agreement with Canadian mining giant Barrick to re-acquire Barrick’s interest in the tenements.

Coppermoly has been working since late last year to stitch up financing arrangements to fund a buyback of the Nakru, Simuku and Talelumas tenements from Barrick, which earned a 72 per cent stake through a farm-in deal.

The $5 million acquisition will be funded in three tranches, with payments staged over five years.

Coppermoly said the acquisition was conditional on it raising $2 million by August 14.

Coppermoly will place 3.7 million fully paid ordinary shares with underwriter Jelsh Holdings, at an issue price of 4.5c, to raise just over $166,000.

Jelsh Holdings also has agreed to underwrite a 1-for-4 non-renounceable offer to shareholders at 4.5c a share to raise a further $1.95 million.

The funds will be used to make the $2 million first payment to Barrick and will allow Coppermoly to begin exploration activities on all three tenements.

“This is a fantastic outcome for Coppermoly to re-acquire 100 per cent of the West New Britain project, and importantly, regain control of the exploration activity,” Coppermoly managing director Maurice Gannon said.

“Barrick has spent well over $20 million acquiring its interest in the project (so) for Coppermoly to re-acquire 100 per cent of the project for $5 million over five years is a significant achievement,” he said.

Mr Gannon said the share placement would be fully underwritten at a 50 per cent premium to the current share price, which was “a remarkable achievement in the current market”.

“Other junior mining companies are raising capital at huge discounts to keep their noses above water, but we are fortunate to have an underwriter who understands our industry and will come in as a strong cornerstone investor in future.”

He said Jelsh Holdings’ Australian representative was a PhD-qualified geologist who had worked for BHP and was a conduit to major Chinese investment funds.

Coppermoly shares are up 16.67 per cent to 3.5c.


Filed under Exploration, Papua New Guinea

Inquiry into mine waste most welcome

Editorial | Post Courier

IT IS close to six years since reports surrounding the alleged polluting of the Angabanga River emerged in the local press and compelled then Justice Minister Bire Kimisopa to issue a reference.

That reference in July 2007 led to the Constitutional Law Reform Commission publishing an issues paper early this year on the matter which now gives rise to an inquiry into mine waste tailings systems and its impact on the health and general wellbeing of Papua New Guineans.

Time is normally of the essence in such inquiries but in PNG where the mining industry continues to experience an unprecedented period of growth and expansion and exploration at an all time, it is never too late to investigate mine waste tailings systems and its impact on communities, including ordinary Papua New Guineans.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are specific in that the working committee will collate the views and comments of Papua New Guineans living within the mine tailings disposal areas (these includes waterways and coastal areas) on mining waste management and disposal systems and its consequential effects on the environment. Collate reports on the alleged high toxicity levels of hazardous chemicals and heavy metal traces found to have occurred in the sample population in mine waste disposal areas will be considered and finally highlight the need for corrective measures to be taken when the final report is handed to the Justice Minister.

The CLRC secretary Dr Eric Kwa has revealed that their work will include a review of the various legislative frameworks, which the mining industry is currently using to govern their waste disposal regimes.

“The key aspect that we are basing our research on is the impact that these mine waste tailings have on the health of the people in the surrounding project area and the environment impacts. We want to review the Environment Act 2000, the Mining Act 1992 and other legislations to determine how best we can address the issue,” he said.

We welcome the review of the various legislations, however, we hope that the working committee will in its deliberations scrutinise the Department of Environment and Conservation and zoom in on its ability to effectively regulate and monitor the activities of mining companies. The department has in recent years been criticized for being ineffective, allowing mining companies to self-regulate their activities often to the detriment of the local population.

The commission in its deliberations is also seeking submissions from a “broad cross-section of the community”, as well as with an interest in the inquiry.

Consequently, we encourage Papua New Guineans who live in a mine-impacted area or community to write to the CLRC. It is your opportunity to be heard and a chance to make a positive contribution to reforming an industry that brings in millions of PNG Kina in export revenue, but can also impact negatively on the environment if not monitored effectively by our regulatory authorities.

While the inquiry would be welcomed by Papua New Guineans, they will need to be convinced that the recommendations that would flow on from its proceedings will be seriously taken on board by the Government of the day.

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Pacific unity call to benefit from seabed mining plans

Radio New Zealand

A commissioner with the newly formed Global Ocean Commission says island countries in the Pacific need to unite to ensure they get benefits from any seabed mining in the international waters that surround them.

A former Ulu of Tokelau, Faipule Foua Toloa, says island countries are not ready for the impact of mining on the sea floor.

He says companies expect to make billions of dollars from the mining of seabed minerals and the island countries should receive some of this, even when it is in international waters.

Faipule Foua says any decision is up to the United Nations body, the Seabed Mining Authority, which is charged with issuing licences:

“And also come up with a formula of how the revenue from this is divided amongst developing countries. I know they haven’t come up with any but this is the area whereby the Pacific has to be united in whatever process they will be taking, because it is just at their back door.”

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Bougainville chief claims support for Panguna re-opening

Radio New Zealand

A representative of land owners around the Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville says there is strong support for the re-opening of the controversial mine.

An executive of the Panguna Landowners Association, Chief Michael Pariu, was speaking after the latest government organised forum to canvas the people’s views on the mine re-opening.

He says groups from the districts of Wakunai, Kieta and Panguna, including former combatants, have agreed that a re-opening is necessary to lift the Bougainville economy.

“We are financially handicapped to run the affairs of Bougainville, the affairs of community service and also the affairs of affected landowners. So, a reason – clear and loud – voted for everywhere in Bougainville that we are in Bougainville in desperate need of finance. So that is why a re-opening of Panguna mine is what everyone is expecting now.” Chief Michael Pariu.

He says issues of ’bel kol’ or compensation, and reconciliation and rehabilitation will still need to be finalised beforehand by the company, Bougainville Copper Limited, and the Papua New Guinea and Australian governments.

One last forum is to held in Panguna next week.

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