Monthly Archives: July 2013

Yanderra yet to finalise study

The National aka The Loggers Times

THE Yanderra copper-molybdenum- gold project in Madang Province, may reach a final feasibility study of the project sometimes later as additional work is required.

Marengo Mining Ltd, the developer of the project said in its June quarterly activities report that following a review of the technical work in support of the feasibility study, the company’s board of directors decided that additional work was required in specific areas before a final feasibility study can be prepared.

This also included identifying an alternative cost-competitive source of power for the project, after Marengo’s preferred third party power provider decided to withdraw from the proposed power supply arrangements.

Discussions on this matter are being held with a number of organisations, including the PNG Government.

The Feasibility Study indicates that Yandera has the potential to generate substantial cash flows; however in the absence of a power solution that can support the Project, it is exposed to escalating capital and operating costs.

The Yandera Project is a world-scale development project located in Madang Province, some 95km south-west of the seaport of Madang within the highly prospective New Guinea copper-gold belt.

The Yandera Central porphyry system contains one of the largest undeveloped porphyry copper-molybdenum-gold systems in the south-west Pacific.

Further opportunities to enhance the project include:

  • A REVIEW of processing plant throughput rates;
  • REVIEWING the option of Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) versus a land-based Tailings Management Facility (TMF); and
  • FURTHER optimisation of the mine plan.

The objective of this review is to help ensure that the Yandera Project is robust at all phases of the commodity price cycle.

“The company remains committed to the future development of the Yandera Project, and is pleased with the support that we have had from our strategic partner China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co Ltd (NFC), the PNG Government, as well as the financial support from our major shareholder, the Sentient Group,” the company said.


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Documentary on Hidden Valley mine to screen at Melbourne festival

A 22 minute documentary about the Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea will be screened at the Environmental Film Festival Melbourne on September 5, before going on general release.

In the film, produced by the Mineral Policy Institute, a people speak out for their river, and for their future.

The Hidden Valley gold and silver mine in the Morobe Province is affecting communities living along the Watut River, a long and fast-flowing river in a lush mountain region.  In the evocative and beautifully shot short documentary we hear how indigenous models of development are clashing with those imposed by mining companies and government when they are not listening to local landowners.

“Is this investment for the local people or for the shareholders in Australia and Africa?” – Howard Sindana in Hidden Valley.

We hear from a diverse range of local community representatives, community workers and landowners including Reuben Mete from the Union of Watut River Communities and from Dr. Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineer, as they describe the impacts of this jointly Australian – South African owned mine as well as the way forward to a more sustainable future.

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Can extractive industry transparency help save PNG?

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin | PNG Attitude

PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS RICH IN NATURAL RESOURCES such as oil, gas, timber and mining but tends to underperform economically. It is also inundated with corruption.

People suffer from poor governance because the multinational corporations, politicians, government bureaucrats and leaders of landowner groups conspire to make huge gains by diverting funds elsewhere.

The common people are consequentially suffering and vulnerable to all sorts of socio-economic ills which naive foreign journalists lump together to describe PNG as a ‘shithole’.

You find only one or two well-nourished, well-to-do humans among the masses of dirty and undernourished bodies in Port Moresby and they tend to be from Tari, Kutubu, Porgera and Mailu.

The thugs one sees running around Gordon’s Market in Moresby are mostly from the resource rich provinces.

Had the duty bearers managed the royalties properly, these thugs would not need to fly or walk into the scourging sun of Port Moresby to make ends meet and end up looking through rubbish in dippers and bins.

They would be cashed up in their own districts, living in good homes with happy families.

Some of the poorest of the poor in Port Moresby, that bundle up around Gordon’s Market from dawn to dusk to prey on Papuan women and rape grandmothers in public, are mineral resource landowners.

These thugs literally stink to the core while their leaders chest-beat and run around hotels in Port Moresby with ill-disciplined teenage girls.

Let’s look at one example.  The Amazon Bay Local Level Government area in Central Province is blessed with enormous rainforests.

It earned its name Amazon Bay from Luiz Vas De Torres when he sailed to Mailu in August 1606 thinking that Mailu was the tail end of the Amazon rainforest in Latin America.

The Amazon Bay rainforest in Central Province has been felled indiscriminately by Pivot, Rimbunan Hijau and Mecca PNG since 1979. Mecca PNG is still cutting timber in Amazon Bay (Sabiribo) today.

God! Save the Amazon Bay people!

After 33 years of continuous cutting by these three companies the LLG is the least developed in the whole of PNG. The airport has been closed. There is no medicine in the Magarida Health Centre. There is no medication for anything, including sexually transmitted infections. The patients sleep on cement.

The schools have fewer teachers than ever before. There are no students from Amazon Bay studying in any of the higher learning institutions in PNG. Their only access to Port Moresby is via motor powered dug-out canoes, which days to sail on the treacherous ocean.  And, of course, people pay K200 as the fare to take this risk.

Maybe the people are partly to blame for being timid and not speaking up against the exploitation of their rainforests by their puerile leaders – who, like Emperor Nero who burned Rome to ashes and blamed the Christians, or like the other Caesars who were obsessed with wine, orgy and more wealth – forsook their primary duty of good governance.

The politicians and the leaders of landowner groups should be cursed for kneeling at the rear of the multinational companies to fan their farts.

They should have negotiated with the greedy multi-billion dollar corporations seeking raw materials to bring basic services so people have access to markets and other government facilities and rightly remain in their native lands to cultivate their soil and make ends meet.

The Bank of PNG continues to forecast and inform everyone of the good times ahead, just as it has done for the last 10 years. It is all rhetoric, it seems.

The well-being of individuals has not climbed an inch if you go around the country. Life is just gloomy and indistinct.

Basic infrastructure is falling apart and the population of drug addicts has soared. Cash flow is at its lowest among the ordinary people. It is unsafe to travel far and wide into the districts without police escorts.

Our neighbours, the Australians, are willing to travel to Bali and risk death from underworld crime rather than come to PNG and smell the farts and odour of poverty and rundown infrastructure.

There is, however, some hope for the more equitable distribution of the proceeds from the exploitation of PNG’s natural resources.

In May this year, Treasurer Don Polye gave a speech saying that the Government of Papua New Guinea has affirmed its commitment to implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) at the EITI Global Conference in Sydney.

The landowning people can now hope that, by December this year, PNG will get acknowledgment from the EITI governing body that PNG is an EITI candidate.

The masses know the Ombudsmen Commission has no teeth and Sam Koim’s Task Force Sweep is snowed under with caseload.  The Sovereign Wealth Fund is vulnerable to abuse.

Therefore, to protect the collective wealth of the masses from the mining, oil and gas sectors, PNG EITI candidature is vital.

PNG’s EITI candidature will encourage greater transparency in these resources and some of the potential negative impacts can be mitigated.

Government revenues are expected to increase due to the US$19 billion PNG LNG project, with the first LNG deliveries scheduled to begin in 2014, it is crucially important for our candidature status to be finalized before that happens.

Once PNG goes through the different stages of the EITI and demonstrates compliance the investment climate will improve by providing a clear signal to investors and international financial institutions that the government is committed to greater transparency.

EITI will also assist in strengthening accountability and good governance, as well as promoting greater economic and political stability.

PNG will complete the four sign-up steps soon and by December it will be an EITI candidate. The people whose land foreigners dug up with impunity and siphoned resources away from to share with a few henchmen should welcome the desire of PNG to be a member of EITI.

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NZ: Iron sand mining permit opposed by local communities

Fuseworks Media | Voxy

“We will join forces with other community groups in our region to protect the sea from Trans Tasman Resources’ plans to start seabed mining in South Taranaki” states Climate Justice Taranaki.

Last Friday, TTR announced they had submitted a mining permit application under the Crown Minerals Act with New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals to extract iron sands in an area covering 65.76 km2 within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast of Patea.

“Seabed mining has serious impacts on the environment. Just like with the oil and gas industry, mining companies make big money from ‘extracting’ mineral resources with little or no consideration for the ocean, marine species and fisherfolk. All they care about is their profit margin.”

“There are plenty of local voices already in South Taranaki speaking out against these activities. TTR does not have a social licence to operate in this region. At a public meeting in Patea last month, local resident Willy Harris said TTR’s proposal offered no economic or environmental benefits for his community. ‘It’s just another form of rape and pillage.’ Fellow resident Tennille Snooks said the town was beginning to educate itself on the proposal and they were ready to fight it all the way.”

“Unfortunately, the government seems dead-keen on turning New Zealand into one giant coal, gold, mineral and ironsand mine and into an even bigger oil and gas rig. However, opposition to these plans are growing in every corner of the country: from Puhipuhi to Coromandel, from Raglan to Patea, from Tikorangi to Cheal, from the Raukumara Basin to Porangahau, from the Denniston Plateau to Mataura!”

“We want a future based on sustainability and justice.”

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Pundari ignores main issues with “World Class” MCC

The recent inspection visit by an official PNG government delegation to “World Class” Ramu Nico sites in Basamuk and Kurumbukari in July was timely, as there were serious issues that needed attention. The delegation consisting of the Minister for Environment and Conservation John Pundari, Madang Governor Jim Kas and other senior officials in the Ministry were given an inspection tour of the mine’s two sites. At the end of the inspection, the Minister had a briefing with a small group of landowners.

In the meeting, the Minister asked for understanding from the landowners towards the mine’s shortcomings, to which he implied was caused by a slump in nickel prices in the world market. As a result this has gravely affected revenue for the mine, hence, affecting the mine’s operations. Minister Pundari appealed to the landowners to be patient with “World Class” MCC and assured that when the mine comes into full operation, landowners will receive the promised benefits.

The aggravating concern with the Minister’s stance was his ignorance to very important issues. The issues are;

  • Chromite mining, storage and transportation: Chromite mining is hazardous because of the minerals potential to become toxic chromium VI. MCC have adamantly refuted claims that the poisonous chromium VI is not present up at KBK, although their Environmental Impact Assessment states otherwise. MCC is planning to transport chromite out of KBK to Madang town using the national highway, which raises other concerns because of the treacherous road conditions, and public health and safety. The potentially dangerous chromite is said to be stored in Madang town before being shipped out.
  • There are no laws for chromite mining in Papua New Guinea. The Department of Environment and Conservation should be aware that chromite mining requires particular consideration because of its toxic potential. MCC claims to be complying to other national and international mining laws and regulations; however there is no specific law available on chromite mining in PNG, hence the certainty of ensuring health and environment safety is a concern.
  • Basamuk pollution: Scientific reports from the recent Biodiversity expedition revealed serious pollution in the Basamuk Bay. The mine has not come into full operation as yet however; mine tailings have covered hydrothermal vents under the sea preventing the process of chemosynthesis hence choking marine life in the deep waters. A sponsored scientific study for Ramu Nico, claimed that there is no life under the depth of 800 metres. This was refuted by marine biologists in the recent expedition saying there is life well below 800 metres, and a whole new group of underwater species have been found in Madang waters below 800 metres.
  • Landowner issues, currently, more than 30 houses at Enekuai resettlement compound are without power and water supply ever since the establishments of the facility, landowners have been given contracts to transport the hazardous chromite to Madang town.

Currently, “World Class” Ramu Nico mine is on a 10 year tax holiday. Earlier this year, Madang Governor Jim Kas called the National Government to cut the tax holiday to five years. He also stated that the formalities to bring the mine into Madang had been done in Port Moresby, bypassing the Madang Provincial Government who now a mere spectators to a major development occurring in the province.

In a recent turn of events, the mine has come out and promoted its commitment to workers safety and the environment. However, “World Class” Ramu Nico has still yet to show its commitment to the above issues. The department of environment and conservation has turned a blind eye to its mandated responsibility. Hence, this brings into question the department’s knowledge and awareness to the issues and importantly, what is the department’s stance on these issues?

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Bougainville leader says negotiation will sort compensation claims

Radio New Zealand

The finance minister in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous Bougainville government, Albert Punghau, says he is confident the question of compensation for the effects of the civil war can be satisfactorily sorted out.

Compensation for damage and other issues is seen as a key matter ahead of any opening of the huge Panguna mine, which Bougainville views as a solution to its economic woes.

The Me’ekemui faction has long touted a demand for ten billion kina in compensation as its price for any re-opening, while Mr Punghau says the ABG has claims going back to a requests for compensation made before the peace process began.

He says his government is yet to develop a policy on how to handle the claims.

“I, as minister for finance have been tasked by the government to look again into those claims so that we can meet also the government of Papua New Guinea and also maybe the government of Australia, maybe CRA [Rio Tinto, the majority owners of Bougainville Copper Ltd] or their people so that we could now try to address these compensation issues that are in front of us.”

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Coppermoly PNG plans hit a hurdle

Jenny Rogers |

COPPERMOLY has run into problems in its bid to take control of three key Papua New Guinea mining tenements after one of its shareholders called on the takeover regulator to stop the deal.

The shareholder, William Stanley Yeaman, also was part of an ugly battle over board positions at the Gold Coast-based junior copper explorer last year.

His latest move threatens to derail a $5 million deal stitched up by Coppermoly to fund a buyback of the major stake in tenements from Canadian mining giant Barrick, which acquired its interest in a farm-in arrangement.

It could also delay Coppermoly’s bid to gain immediate access to the tenements, one with a 40-million-tonne copper resource.

The Takeovers Panel yesterday said it had agreed to make interim orders preventing Coppermoly going ahead with a 1-for-4 non-renounceable rights issue to shareholders, at an issue price of 4.5c, underwritten by Jelsh Holdings.

The offering was part of a financing package which would allow Coppermoly to fund the first $2 million tranche of a $5 million buyback of the Nakru, Simuku and Talelumas tenements from Barrick.

Coppermoly previously said acquisition of the tenements was conditional on it raising $2 million by July 31.

Under the deal, Jelsh Holdings could also increase its stake in Coppermoly from 12.06 per cent to 26.63 per cent.

However, Yeaman Nominees, as trustee for the Yeaman Super Fund, asked the Takeovers Panel to intervene, arguing the rights issue discouraged other shareholders from participating.

It said Coppermoly also appeared to have “taken no steps to mitigate the control effects of the rights issue and underwriting”, and submitted that the prospectus disclosures were deficient.

Mr Yeaman asked the panel to make interim orders that Coppermoly extend the offer period for the rights issue and not allot any shares.

Late yesterday, the panel ordered Coppermoly not to issue or allot any new shares under the offer without its approval, and to postpone the deferred settlement trading of new shares.

Coppermoly said, as a result, the offer would close today and there would now be a delay in the timetable for the rest of its prospectus. It said it would hold all subscription money in trust.

Yeaman is also seeking final orders to have the rights issue cancelled and all subscription monies refunded.

Mr Yeaman, who together with family holds a 3.7 per cent stake in the company, was last year one of a group of six unhappy shareholders who demanded the appointment of William Shaw Securities founder Shawn Ulridge to the Coppermoly board as a non-executive director and also threatened to remove managing director Maurice Gannon and director Ben Michael Faulkner.

An ugly showdown was only avoided after Coppermoly bowed to their demands and appointed Mr Ulridge to the board.

The shareholders subsequently withdrew their threats to remove Mr Gannon and Mr Faulkner.

Coppermoly shares yesterday closed up 2.94 per cent at 3.5c.

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NZ: Seabed Mining Application will see massive opposition says KASM

KASM | Scoop

An application for a mining permit to take black sand from the seabed off the South Taranaki coast will be met with massive opposition, said Kiwis Against Seabed Mining today.

Trans Tasman Resources, a largely foreign-owned company, has today lodged an application with NZ Petroleum and Minerals for a mining licence to dig up more than 65 square kms of the seabed for ironsands, which would be shipped directly to Asian markets.

“To significantly compromise our marine environment for just a few cents on the dollar is not smart economics. It’s third world thinking and Kiwis know better than that,” said KASM Chairperson Phil McCabe.

The move by TTR begins a process that, if not stopped, could see the same mining happening up the entire West Coast of the North and South Islands.

“TTR have told us that they are starting small and if they get the nod, plan to go bigger and closer to shore. This first application is a precedent setter for them and other companies.”

McCabe said KASM has been holding public meetings up and down the coast and the opposition to seabed mining plans is growing by the day.

“New Zealanders love our marine environment and the West Coast Black Sands are an iconic part of our culture.  We won’t sit by and let this happen without a massive fight,” he said.

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Lyneth Ona on Panguna mine

mekamui | Mekamui News

Mekamui news caught up with Lyneth Ona in Arawa when she came from Buka to attend a meeting at the Arawa Women’s centre. Lyneth Ona is one of the outspoken women in Bougainville against BCL coming back and reopens the Panguna mine.

Photo of Lyneth Ona

Mekamui news asked her what are their stand now as from the forums held so far they are saying that majority wants the mine reopen and will start negotiation with BCL?

Lyneth responded by saying that the women must be given the time to talk about or be in the negotiating team because the men had did it in the past were we all suffered terribly.

She says that she is not seeing many women as mothers of the land in the decision making body on Bougainville.

She told Mekamui news that she attended two forums, in Buka and the one in Arawa and she stated that not everyone agreed only those educated ones and those who use money going around wants the mine reopen. Asked if there were good number of women who attended the forum she says yes but they were quite however, they have strong opposition to mining.

Lyneth maintain that mining can come later after Referendum or Independence. She says the Government should step in to help people who are panning for gold or the small alluvial gold mining in a small scale. If the mine reopens, where will they relocated the people or Moroni, Guava, Kokore and Dapera the population is 4-5 times higher than during those days.

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Be Wary Of St. Barbara Ltd.

Gary Bourgeault | Seeking Alpha

St. Barbara Ltd. is gold miner based in Melbourne, Australia, which is facing a possible writedown and a stoppage in spending after a terrible performance of its Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands gold mines in the most recent quarter.

Soaring production costs at Simberi and Gold Ridge mines during the quarter ending in June also generated questions as to whether or not the company should have acquired Allied Gold in 2012. The growing sense is the $556 million price tag was too high.

Since the last time St. Barbara surpassed the $12 per share mark on October 17, 2012, the share price has plunged to under $2 per share in June, and closed at $2.31 per share on Friday, July 26.

With a trailing P/E (TTM) of 1.98, I don’t see that as a positive or that there is little downside risk, but rather it being a reflection of the fact the company is in trouble. It has dropped to as low as $1.68 per share in the last year, and it could definitely fall much further if costs aren’t brought under control.

Price of Gold
Even the rebound in gold prices hasn’t been able to help St. Barbara find support. While it did rise in conjunction with the bottom in gold price on June 28, when it hit $1,192, the share price plunged on the news of the underperformance at some of its projects, along with the high costs.

On June 28, the miner was trading at $2.14, and climbed to as high as $3.02 on July 22. From there it plummeted to $2.31 as of July 26, 2013. The point is its performance was so bad even the upward price movement of gold wasn’t able to help the share price.

Since a higher price in gold can make any company look good, all the weakness associated with St. Barbara will be overcome if the gold price continues to rise. Now that the weakness has been identified, that will weigh on the company even in a strong gold price environment. The share price of the company will move up if gold continues to rise, but not to what it would have before.

Since St. Barbara flies under the radar of most investors, it could be considered an exploration miner or a company just starting production. That’s not the case, as the firm was launched in 1969.

It has approximately 16 million ounces of gold under its umbrella, with about 5 million ounces in ore reserves.

The changing dynamics of the gold industry no longer rewards resources and production as it has in the past, as the only real factors to consider now are the price of gold and how much the real all-in costs are to produce that gold.

So while St. Barbara is sitting on a nice stash of gold, its cost to produce it has risen, as has all the miners with significant exposure to gold. Increased production is a negative when it is done at a loss.

All of this is obvious, and yet miners like St. Barbara continue to emphasize the quantity of production, while trying to take the focus off of true production costs.

Increasingly it will be the quality of the ore grade that determines the value of resources, not the size of the projects. Astute miners have already started to shed assets with low ore grades while seeking out smaller projects with higher ore grades. Unfortunately, St Barbara hasn’t been one of them.

Production Costs
The takeover of Allied Gold in 2012 is a good example of what miners are trying to stay clear of these days.

When the company reported its first production costs at the Gold Ridge deposit in the Solomon Islands, it was an unbelievable $2,553 an ounce. In the latest quarter it has come down some, but it will be a challenge for St. Barbara for many years to cut costs down to profitable levels.

At its Papua New Guinea Simberi project, costs there were far less, but still a hefty $1,592 an ounce. The only thing that saved the company in the latter half of 2012 was the sales price from its Pacific operations came in at $1,675 an ounce. We’re not going to see those numbers again for some time.

Now after buying an asset for $556 million, St. Barbara will have to focus primarily on cutting expenditures in a major way. The better-managed companies would have seen the heavy risk associated with Allied Gold and passed on it.

Operating costs at the Simberi and Gold Ridge mines for its latest quarter ending June 2013, were still extremely high. While emphasizing the offensive production numbers, St. Barbara is actually in a defensive mode, one it will struggle to overcome for a number of years.

Gwalia Mine
If the company is to have a chance to rebound over the next year or two, it will depend on the performance of its Gwalia mine at Leonora. Being the flagship asset of the miner, it is projected to generate enough cash flow in full year 2014 to cover all costs of the company.
Guidance for 2014 at Gwalia is for 180,000 to 190,000 ounces of gold to be produced. Even at low spot gold prices the company believes it will be enough to support it.
Overall gold production at the company for 2014 is estimated in a range of 395,000 and 445,000 ounces. The fact that St. Barbara is counting on Gwalia reaffirms how high the costs are at its other production sites.

Along with the high costs at some of its projects, other factors are the delay in commissioning the Simberi oxide expansion, and the “lower-than-expected metallurgical recovery at Gold Ridge.”

Even though the company asserts its deal for Allied Gold will pay off in the future, there is no proof that will be the case. Already the costs and low metal recovery have crushed the company, and there is no guarantee Gwalia will be able to carry the company while it attempts to lower prices and boost production.

There is probably a big write-down coming, and that will further hit the share price.
Add to that the increase in production, which at most of its projects is done at a loss, and you can see why ST Barbara is teetering on the brink.

Delays in getting government permits at the Simberi project in Papua New Guinea, as well as in the electrical commissioning of the processing circuit, also continue to be a factor.

As long as the Federal Reserve continues to stimulate, the price of gold will probably continue to go up. I believe it’s going to shoot above the $1,400 an ounce mark, and probably be rangebound between $1,400 an ounce and $1,500 an ounce for a period of time.

That will take some time to achieve, and gold may not surpass the $1,400 an ounce until the latter part of 2013 or early part of 2014. It depends on how long it takes to break the $1,350 an ounce mark. If it does that soon, it could happen quicker than expected.

If the Fed does taper, we will see the price of gold correct for sure. The degree of the correction will be determined by how much stimulus is taken off the table.

Either way, the high cost of gold production by St. Barbara won’t be helped that much by that higher price, although the market usually rewards all miners when the gold price shoots up. The recent plunge in price confirms gold prices along won’t support a company that has multiple problems like St. Barbara has.

It is totally unpredictable as to which way the company will go. If it continues to struggle it could even be a takeover target, although the problems it faces now aren’t of the type most miners would want to inherit. The only positive is the amount of gold the company has under its control. Yet when production is at best about breakeven, along with the high risk of gold prices falling further, this is a company I would stay away from.

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