PNG PM promoting a failed colonial model of development

PNG’s Prime Minister and Mining Minister have been rolling out the red carpet this week for one of the world’s five largest mining companies, Anglo American.

And why not?

PNG has already been shafted by two of the other top five, BHP and Rio Tinto so why not Anglo American?

BHP completely destroyed the Fly River in one of the world’s worst mining environmental disasters and Rio Tinto caused a war on Bougainville in which as many as 20,000 people died.

So what can we learn from history? Mega big mining companies are NOT good news for the ordinary people of PNG (although our political elite and the mining companies themselves seem to profit very nicely)

If you are not convinced, just read the news report below: the PM and Mining Minister are full of rhetoric about how good PNG is for mining companies; how PNG has great potential for foreign investors; how the PNG government will help the mining companies.

BUT there is nothing about the ordinary people of PNG. Nothing about what is good for them. Makes it very clear who exactly this government is working for – themselves and the old colonial masters…

Warm welcome for Anglo American

PNG Industry News

ANGLO AMERICAN has received a warm welcome from the PNG government, with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill meeting executives from the company and partner Highlands Pacific in Port Moresby yesterday.

O’Neill said he was happy to see the execution of the joint venture farm-in agreements for the Star Mountains copper gold project, and looked forward to a lasting working relationship with the global miner.

“Anglo American have demonstrated their confidence in the investment potential of Papua New Guinea and we welcome their participation,” he said.

“This is a wise decision for their shareholders and we look forward to an enduring relationship in the decades to come.”

PNG Mines Minister Byron Chan echoed O’Neill’s comments, saying Anglo American had come into PNG’s mining industry at an exciting time, reflected in the granting of mining licences for the Woodlark and Crater Mountain projects and anticipating the submission of feasibility reports for the Frieda River and Wafi-Golpu projects.

“As minister responsible for mining, I congratulate and welcome the entry of Anglo American into PNG and assure you of our commitment to assist both yourself and your PNG partner – Highlands Pacific, in adding value to your project,” he said.

“PNG is a proven exploration and mining jurisdiction and your entry into the country is evidence of investor confidence in doing business in the mineral sector.”

Head of the Anglo American delegation Andre van den Berg said the company was looking forward to doing business in PNG through their joint venture partner.

Highland Pacific CEO John Gooding said he looked forward to getting exploration underway and the execution of the farm-in agreements was another major step forward.

“Together we can move forward with a defined exploration program that will test the size and grade of these exciting targets,” he said.

4 Comments

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

4 responses to “PNG PM promoting a failed colonial model of development

  1. Ana's Outlook

    Apart from environmental issues, the reason “Mega big mining companies are NOT good news for the ordinary people of PNG” has more to do with maladministration of the millions of kina that the mines generate than with failure of mining to generate money for the country. So what’s “NOT good news for the ordinary people of PNG” is government inefficiency, incompetence and corruption.

  2. Benny Kimisive

    The current mining laws enacted in the colonial times leave us, the people who own these resources at a huge disadvantage. Successive prime ministers and governments continue to allow foreign owned companies to come in and own these resources, sell our oil, gold, copper etc and give us a little cut of mostly between 15 to 30% and leave behind environmental disasters which affect our rural population who hardly benefit. They hardly benefit and yet have to wear the brunt of these environmental disasters. It is criminal. If we have to harvest these resources at the cost of harming our environment, I would rather the nation has up to 100% ownership of the companies who will engage in these activities. After 5 to 6 decades of turning out graduates in all the necessary professional disciplines, the government should have a plan to encourage the setting up of 100% owned national companies who can participate in the resource sector. If the nation is unable to come up with a strategy to nationalise the resource sector, then a moratorium should be declared on further exploitation of our resources until we are ready to do so or face the inevitable result of big overseas conglomerates leaving us nothing for the future. It is incumbent on the current prime minister and the government to urgently review the mining laws with a view to make necessary changes by law to give more ownership to the people who by right own these resources, and who will ultimately pay for any environmental disaster as a direct consequence of these activities.

  3. Tiffany Matlogo

    Benny, u were at Ok Tedi for years, weren’t u? If u are serious about environmental damage, you should have left the mine on principle. By taking money from the mine, you compromised your principles. What is supposed to happen with mining revenues is the development of the country with infrastructure & education skills and the kind of development that transforms a country from being a third world nation to becoming a first world country. In that way people won’t be depending on gardening for a living. In PNG there is great opportunity for us to have the best of both worlds. But the problem is that we have too many thieves being in charge of the revenue coming from the mineral sector. Our graduates from the PNG universities are not good enough hence the influx of foreigners to build and run mines for us. At Ok Tedi, the foreigners stay on the payroll for a long long time – you know that Benny. 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years, expats have been on the OTML payroll. ANd alas today, OTML has a refugee who used PNG and OTML to migrate to Australia. Musje is not a ‘true son’ of PNG as described by OTML chairman Sir Moi Avei, who is ignorant of the facts. Where is the true son of PNG to run that mine? Why a refugee from West Papua who worked the system to get into PNG and now has migrated to Australia. Aren’t you the true sons of PNG good enough for that role? Perhaps Musje was low enough to kiss Nigel Parker’s arse compared to the true sons of PNG who would not dignify Nigel with even a gentleman’s hand shake? Rise up your genuine PNG professionals and show that you can run a mine.

    • Benny Kimisive

      Thank you Tiffany.
      Yes indeed, I was at Ok Tedi for many years.
      My point was not about environmental damage. That is an inevitable outcome of any resource development that tightening up our environmental laws will help. And PNG needs the revenue from these activities. I have never compromised on my principles.
      The point I tried to make was more to do with ownership of these developments. I am concerned that the current laws allow foreign companies to apply for exploration licences and then just basically own the resource. They can even sell to another foreign company without developing the resource.
      What I was suggesting was to look at a strategy where it encouraged more direct participation by PNG owned companies. I believe we do have the professional capacity to some degree, we own the resources, so why can’t we have a strategy to form our own companies to engage in these activities.
      Furthermore, the point I had tried to make was that, ultimately we have to pay the price of environmental damage. I feel that it is not right that, for owning the resource and then wearing the negative impacts these activities bring, we do not even get to 50% benefits.
      We might not even be at a stage in our development for this to happen but it does not hurt to start thinking like this.
      Call it, just food for thought.

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