Monthly Archives: April 2015

Packages for Tolukuma workers as mine closes

The National aka The Loggers Times 

Tolukuma Gold Mine (TGM) in Central has negotiated compensation packages with its employees as the company finalises its mine closure programme, general manager John McKinstry says.

Parent company, Petromin Holdings Ltd (Petromin), has announced that the mine in the Goilala hinterland will be closed this month.

Petromin managing director Thomas Abe said the mine was unable to produce enough gold each month to cover costs.

“Petromin itself is facing new pressures with a pending restructure significantly affecting income and the cash drain from Tolukuma has adversely affected Petromin’s balance sheet to the point that it can no longer keep supporting operations,” he said.

Abe said Petromin would ensure all 320 employees of TGM would receive their full entitlements.

McKinstry said the company would not discuss the total expenditure on mine closure publicly.

“The costs involved are largely those of making the workforce redundant,” he said.

“TGM has negotiated a severance package with employees which we (TGM) won’t disclose publicly.

“The package takes into consideration that most of the workforce is locally based, and the lack of road access to the district makes getting new jobs extremely difficult.”

McKinstry said Petromin was closing down operations and putting the site under care and maintenance.

“It will remain under care and maintenance until Petromin has exhausted all avenues for a sale of the mine.

“Other costs involved are those involved in keeping the plant and machinery in good order, while potential buyers are sought.

“This will involve a small team of people with specialist skills, which will be supplemented with casual labour from locals as needed.”

He added that during care and maintenance period, TGM would be working on providing the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) a mine closure plan.

“The plan will formally detail the work and costs involved in decommissioning and rehabilitating the mine site – should it be necessary,” McKinstry said.



Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Chinese mining company disputes landowner claims in Fiji

Mining company in Fiji says it has paid royalties

Radio New Zealand

Landowners in Fiji’s northern division say they have not received any royalties from a bauxite mine run by Chinese company Aurum Exploration Limited since they consented to it in 2011.

A Sodelpa MP Mosese Bulitavu says the company has only paid about 300,000 US dollars so far in royalties to the Lands Department, which still has not been given to landowners.

He says the company still owes about another 740,000 US dollars.

But an Aurum Exploration Limited spokesperson says it has paid the government about 670,000 US dollars and cannot pay landowners directly.

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Filed under Fiji, Financial returns, Human rights

MCC’s cursing experience on the Basamuk people


Food crops dying, drinking water contaminated, dead fishing reefs, what else is left to happen?

The people of Basamuk who are living with the Chinese Nickel Mine right in their face everyday since it started operations, are meeting their fate of having a FOREIGN MINER on their land and dumping into their sea.

Some may say the effects are slowly kicking in but for Terry Kunning, a very outspoken Basamuk landowner, the effects are closing in way too fast for the people to adjust or adapt.

“In fact it is impossible for anyone to adjust or adapt in a situation like this,” Terry said.

“It is not double trouble, it is trouble way over our heads because our crops are dying after the continuous gas release from the mine sinks and settles on them, and the sea turned red again after the chemical spill at the beginning of March, so where are we supposed to go to?” said a very worried Kunning.

Basamuk is an island in the Basamuk Bay of Madang Province and the people’s livelihood like any other islanders, depends entirely on the sea for traditional medicine, bathing, transportation, and for fish to eat and to sell for money for school fees, health care and other basic necessities.

According to the villagers, the sea has turned red once again as a result of the recent chemical spill, causing some more reefs to die out, killing some fish and scaring the others away. The people say that they are aware that the fish they catch and eat are most likely to be contaminated, but they eat them anyway because that is their only food.

As well as that, like any other islanders, the Basamuk people collect rainwater for drinking. However as of last year they have witnessed patches of black substances never seen and experienced before on their rooftops after strong winds, which often take place every afternoon and night and on bad weather days.

Now the rain that falls onto their roofs, into the gutters and into their tanks and everything else that they use to collect their drinking water with, has been washing that substance into their drinking water ever since. As it is with the fish, the islanders are still drinking the water they collect, because that is all they have for drinking.

Food plants in their gardens are withering and drying out, and if they do bear food, it is either malnourished or has a lot of sores. They said they are often left with very little of a taro to eat, because that’s all they are left with after cutting out the sores.

Mind you, they have some of the biggest taros grown on the island; one taro can feed two adults or four children in a meal. Like the fish and the drinking water, their garden food is most likely to be contaminated as well, but they still eat it because that what they have for eating.

If their garden foods are dying, their drinking water polluted, their fishing reefs destroyed, then where are they suppose to get their food and water from?

Off course there are stores but where do they get the money to buy food and water because after all, they say they haven’t seen any form of real benefit that can be seen as real development from this Chinese miner.

Even at this time with what they’re going through, the people say the Chinese miner, aka the ‘developer’ hasn’t called in with any supplies of any kind to help the people it claims to be bringing development to.

As the people put it, ‘What is development? The development we’re getting, is this new cursing experience’.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Lihir landowners not happy with Newcrest

Newcrest Mining keen to boost ties with landowners 

The National aka The Loggers Times

NEWCREST Mining Limited is committed to working with landowners in Lihir to ensure long term sustainability of its operations and the continuation of benefits, country manager Peter Aitsi says.
He said this following concerns raised by Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association (LMALA) chairman James Laketan that the Australian miner had intentionally left landowners out in core activities at Lihir, which included a shipping contract that was tendered to outside companies.
Laketan had said the loss of business was an example of the developer’s lack of consideration of its commitments to landowners.
He added that there were other examples of the developer’s failure to acknowledge past agreements, which were now putting Lihir business at risk.
Aitsi said however Newcrest through its subsidiary Lihir Gold Limited (LGL) had been regularly meeting with its suppliers including landowner companies to work proactively to improve the capacity of these organisations and improve on the efficiency of their services to its operations.
“LGL has not terminated any contracts; at this stage Lihir is undertaking a comprehensive review of all of its contracts,” he said.
“We are working collaboratively with our suppliers – local, national and international – to improve their costs and competitiveness.
“As a result of the global down-turn in the resource sector, LGL like other mining companies in PNG and around the world are looking to drive greater efficiencies through their operations.
“This is a difficult time for the resource sector, however LGL is firmly committed to working with landowners, our host community and the Government to ensure the long term sustainability of our operations and the continuation of benefits over the longer term,”
Aitsi said that agreements reviewed under integrated benefits package 2 concerning existing landowner benefits package in relation to the mine continued to be recognised by the miner and still remained in place.


Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Foreign investors double their money on the back of PNG minerals – but nothing for landowners or government revenues

Why is PNG and its people always the last to benefit from its own resources?

Could it be because we are blindly following a model of development that is being imposed from outside by those who take all the profits?

ramu mine

The Ramu Nickel mine near Madang in Papua New Guinea in which Highlands Pacific has a minority position of 8.56 per cent

How a small cap miner doubled despite a weak copper price

Richard Hemming | Sydney Morning Herald

If small cap mining companies are looking for a template for success in an environment of weaker commodity prices they should look no further than Highlands Pacific, whose stock had doubled in the past month and is now up 50 per cent since the start of March.

The rise of the Papua New Guinea-based company’s fortunes is an education on how a management team led by John Gooding has managed to squeeze value out of a number of projects in which it holds minority interests.

Patersons’ mining analyst Matthew Trivett called the stock a spec buy at 5.7¢ back in February. Highlands is now trading at 9.5¢ and has a market cap of $87 million. Trivett thinks it will go further based on the company’s strong financial and strategic position.

“Highlands’ management has been skilful in keeping minority shareholding in key projects; dealing with Chinese partners; and generating deals that create immediate value for its shareholders,” he said.

“It’s not every company that can get $10 million upfront from Anglo American for one of its projects.”

Demand coming from a giant manufacturer also helps. The copper price has fallen about 10 per cent this year, but it appears that Chinese interests are determined to get their hands on copper concentrate, which is still essential for electronic componentry.

Highlands Pacific’s most notable minority holding is its 20 per cent stake in the PanAust-controlled Frieda River copper/gold project in PNG. This asset is the reason behind the $1.1 billion takeover offer last month from the Chinese investment company Guangdong Rising Assets Management (GRAM).

Not only does Highlands Pacific own 20 per cent of the Frieda project, it also has a minority position of 8.56 per cent in Ramu Nickel, also in PNG, which is owned and developed by Chinese interests, which have so far spent more than $2 billion. Plus, unlike most mining juniors, it secured $10 million from the mining giant Anglo American to farm into its Star Mountains copper/gold project (also, you guessed it, in PNG). Anglo will spend another $25 million to secure 51 per cent of the project.

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Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

St Barbara in dispute with landowners at Simberi mine


Gold mine strife with landowners

Manuel Sialis | PNG Loop

Simberi Gold company mining operations are at risk after landowners at the New Ireland mining camp placed “gorgor” plants at the pits.

To New Irelanders, posting the ‘gorgor’ leaves is like forbidding activity at the site.

According to  local sources the dispute and  gorgor threat is due to some unsettled issues the company is having with the landowners.

Sources on Simberi claimed the gorgor had forced the company’s hand and had caused a stoppage.

The mine is on the Simberi island in the Tabar group of islands within the Namatanai electorate.

The Loop spoke late today to a company executive who denied any disruption to mining operations but agreed there was a dispute with landowners.  He declined to be specific about the nature of the dispute.

He did say that the company respected the posting of the gorgor, but that mine operations were continuing as usual.

The Simberi mine is owned by the St Barbara company, which has recently run into troubles with its Gold Ridge mine in the Solomon Islands.

The company’s most recent report to the stock exchange, for the March 31 quarter, was positive, saying production had picked up and profit margins were improved. Also, digging for prospective nearby ground was looking good.


Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Fiji landowners miss out on promised mining benefits

Bauxite mine opening in 2011. Photo: Fiji government

Bauxite mine opening in 2011. Photo: Fiji government

Fiji landowners want promised mine royalties

Radio New Zealand

A petition will be presented to the Fiji government next month by landowners in the Northern Division who say they have not received any royalties from a bauxite mine they consented to in 2011.

The Chinese company Aurum Exploration Limited has almost completed mining at the site in Nawailevu, which has produced almost 1 million tonnes of bauxite.

The Sodelpa MP Mosese Bulitavu says the company has only paid $600,000 so far in royalties to the Lands Department, which still hasn’t been handed over to the landowners. And he says the company still owes another $1.5 million in royalties.

“Commodore Bainimarama, he had promised at the opening of the Nawailevu bauxite mining, in his opening statement, that government will be paying them after 2011, two years time, will be $3 million dollars, plus other development projects, housing developments, that has all not happened.”

Mosese Bulitavu says at least 300 signatures have been gathered so far.

The same company has just commenced mining at a second site in Leketu and was just recently issued a lease for a third bauxite mining site at Dreketi.

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The Momis Mining Act: When land defense equals the assault of a child

The Momis Mining Act is an undemocratic attack on constitutional and common law rights

Dansi Oearupeu | Imipono Projects

Bougainville’s new Mining Act strips citizens of basic constitutional and common law rights. Making matters worse, democratic protest against mining and compulsory acquisition of land is now a criminal offence punishable by prison terms that are equal in weight to the punishments given to child sex offenders.

Under the new Bougainville Mining Act shepherded by the Momis government landowner resistance to mining operations is now a criminal offence that is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

Section 346 of the Mining Act states, ‘a person commits an offence if (a) the person unlawfully— interferes with or obstructs exploration, mining or other operations authorised under this Act (b) interferes with machinery, plant, road, work or property on, in, under or over the area of a tenement or community mining licence, which is used in the exercise of a right conferred under this Act. Penalty: K250,000 and 5 years’ imprisonment’.

'This Rorovana mother would now face imprisonment for protecting her land under the mining bill.

‘This Rorovana mother would now face five years prison for defending her land

So any attempt to peacefully defend customary landholdings by blocking mining equipment, mine personnel or other appointed officials, as the mothers of Rorovana did in the 1960s, now attracts a five year custodial sentence.

In an underhanded twist, this punitive prison term was not in the original draft released by the Momis government in December 2014. This last minute amendment to the bill increases the penalty for protest 60 fold.

To put this in context, the Momis government believes that customary landowners who peacefully resist mining on their own land are guilty of a crime equal in seriousness to the indecent assault of a child (5 years) or possessing child pornography (5 years custody). Clearly, the Mining Act is in breach of the rule of proportionality, where crimes of equal moral weight are given similar punishments, while those of dissimilar moral weight are given different punishments. How can a landowner protecting their land from destruction by a foreign multinational, be regarded the same as a paedophile who watches videos of children being sexually abused?

But, alas, under the Mining Act the landowner is actually treated worse than the paedophile.

Incredibly, the act abandons a fundamental common law principles that goes back centuries, which states that for an offender to be found guilty of a crime the state must prove actus reus (the accused committed the criminal act), and means rea (the accused intended to commit a criminal offence).

For landowners in Bougainville, this principle no longer applies!

Section 355 of the Mining Act states, ‘subject to an express provision in this Act to the contrary, it is not necessary to prove an intention or other state of mind in order to establish the commission of an offence under this Act’.

Remember, this law was written for the Momis government by the British company Adam Smith International – by including this section Adam Smith have, in effect, robbed the people of Bougainville a common law right the law’s drafter would enjoy in the United Kingdom were they arrested for a criminal offence.

As a result of this provision landowners who are unaware of the Mining Act provisions – owing to a lack of consultation – who are simply protecting their land from trespassers, could now be thrown into prison for years, despite the fact they had no mental intent to breach Bougainville law. Not even rapists or murderers are denied this common law right.

To make matters worse, permission to use land for mining purposes can be given by less than 1% of landowners. Under the Act, the ABG can appoint a landowner organisation to consent on behalf of all landowners. There is no requirement for majority consent!

As a result, a remote village community may be unaware that a distant wantok has signed away their land. Then when the bulldozers approach and they resist, they will not simply face the mobile squad rifles, but a substantial prison term.

Nor can landowners shield themselves against punitive criminal sanctions using the Constitution, because the Mining Act suspends key constitutional provisions protecting the civil, economic and human rights of landowning communities. In particular, section 2 of the Mining Act  allows the ABG to suspend the right to freedom from arbitrary search and entry, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of information, and most controversially the right to property – the state can compulsory acquire land against the community’s will.

Then there are a whole range of other criminal offences under the act that go from the serious to the trivial. Under the Mining Act removing or defacing a marking peg, is a crime punishable by prison.

Section 348 states ‘a person commits an offence if the person, without authority, breaks, defaces or removes, or otherwise interferes with a boundary mark erected under this Act. Penalty: K25,000 and 30 days’ imprisonment’.

Or what if a landowner whose land has been compulsorily acquired, peacefully refuses to comply with orders to leave their ancestral lands? This is a criminal offence punishable by two years imprisonment.

Section 349 states that a person commits an offence if they ‘obstructs, hinders or delays an authorised officer in the performance of the officer’s duties; or fails to comply with a lawful requirement made by an authorised officer; or refuses an authorised officer entry to premises or land into or on which the authorised officer may lawfully enter; or fails, neglects or refuses to allow or provide all reasonable facilities and assistance to an authorised officer exercising a power under this Act; or impersonates an authorised officer. Penalty: K50,000 and 2 years’ imprisonment’.

So whether landowners consciously resist, or accidentally resist, the encroachment of mining companies on their land, whether it be for exploration, construction work or mining, they are committing serious criminal offences. They are also committing a criminal offence if they engage in non-violent resistance on their own land by refusing to vacate their property for the mining company. Making matters worse landowners are denied common law and constitutional protections afforded rapists, murderers and even paedophiles. This is a foreign mining law for foreign interests, democracy has now been suspended for mine affected communities on Bougainville.

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Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

EU extends its promotion of experimental seabed mining to the Marshall Islands

European citizens already live in luxury, but it is corporations from the UK, Germany, Italy, Finland and Norway that are profiting from experimental seabed mining plans in Papua New Guinea – profits paid for by PNG taxpayers.

Meanwhile the European Union continues to impose a framework to ensure the same model is extended across the whole Pacific region…

European Colonialism never went away – it just changed its operating methods! 

poor feed the richMarshall Islands consults on deep sea minerals

Secretariat of the Pacific Community | Marianas Variety

The Republic of the Marshall Islands or RMI with the assistance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community-European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project, has commenced public consultations on deep sea minerals, with a particular emphasis on the draft national deep sea minerals policy and seabed management bill, which will be submitted to the RMI cabinet in June 2015.

Government representatives, national agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, churches, members of parliament, the Council of Iroij and communities took part in the consultations, which were held in Majuro and Ebeye between April 22 and 24, 2015.

The main objective of these consultations was for the government to present the vision, goals and objectives of the draft national deep sea minerals policy and in the contents of the seabed management bill.

This was also an opportune time for the government to raise awareness of the opportunities for the country to engage with the deep sea minerals industry, with the view of discussing alternative sources of revenue that will be used for the well-being of the people.

These consultations highlight the government’s commitment to ensuring public participation and transparency, and addressing the concerns of all stakeholders.

“We would like to applaud the RMI government’s effort in facilitating an open and inclusive process for its new deep sea minerals policy and seabed management bill,” said the EU Ambassador for the Pacific Andrew Jacobs.

“Dialogue and discussion on commercial exploitation of deep sea minerals with a wide range of stakeholders helps build the necessary trust and understanding between different parties on a sensitive subject,” the ambassador added.

“The involvement of all of the people of RMI, including local communities, is key in the approach followed by the government to move forward with the Deep Sea Minerals industry,” said Secretary of the Ministry of Resources and Development of RMI, Rebecca Lorennij.

“We are extremely grateful to SPC and the EU for the support and assistance provided to RMI and we want to believe that this partnership will continue and enable the Republic of the Marshall Islands to build its expertise and capacities with the view of managing and regulating this new industry for the benefit of Marshall Islands people,” the secretary added.

The deep sea minerals project supports this broad consultation, and offers technical advice and assistance to its 15 participating Pacific countries, providing accurate information and guidance through awareness programs and workshops at both the national and regional level, to ensure that countries have relevant information to make informed decisions.

A consultative approach is vital in the formulation of any policy or national framework, as the public’s views and concerns must be taken into account before an agreement is made.

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Filed under Financial returns, Marshall Islands, Pacific region, Papua New Guinea

China extends its mining footprint in Fiji


Lease issued for third bauxite mine in Fiji

Radio New Zealand

A lease for a third bauxite mining site has been issued in Fiji, and will be the largest so far of the sites in the Northern Division.

The Chinese company Aurum Exploration Limited has almost completed mining at the first site in Nawailevu, which has produced almost 1 million tonnes of bauxite.

The same company has just started clearing the third site at Dreketi which covers an area of 222 hectares, compared to the 150 hectares at Nawailevu.

The Mineral Resources Department Director, Malakai Finau, says the company has just started work at the site.

“In fact we have just issued the mining lease for this third site, known as Naibulu East, they are beginning the mining development operations. They have to clear the site and do the roads.”

Mining has just commenced at the second, smaller site in Leketu, where bauxite will also be exported solely to China.

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Filed under Fiji, Mine construction