Will EITI improve mining outcomes – or just more corporate greenwashing?

View of the Ok Tedi mine workings

Ok Tedi mine (Credit: ABC licensed)

Papua New Guinea has been admitted as a ‘candidate’ country under the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. This means PNG has committed to being more open about the revenues it receives from mining, oil and gas. PNG must produce its first detailed report on the income it receives by March 2016.

But there are serious questions to be answered about whether EITI is just another example of corporate greenwashing or whether it will be effective in helping improve the benefits to the people of PNG from large-scale mining and oil and gas production. 




Lester Seri | ACT NOW!

The importance of the environment and peoples rights should be given equal weight and need to be addressed along with the transparency of money involved or movement of money proceeds from any extractive industry in PNG.

Without taking anything away from EITI, the PNG Chapter, and the good members of the civil society involved, I have my concerns. EITI might have a role to play, no question but….

We have a bulk of the population that live off their environment and natural resources – that is what sustains their livelihood, in fact, their whole existence. The environment is fundamental to their long term existence, destroy their environment and you will find that you can’t eat money after all.

All those landowners (for example from Bougainville and Misima) that have been affected by mining through loss of their land and environment but still have gone back to live a life off their land and environment with no subsidy, compensation or support whatever from either the company or their government – this is how important and dependent our people are on their land environment!

EITI is an outside agenda

Just because EITI is an international mechanism set up by particular interest groups most probably wanting to protect their economic interest does not mean that Papua New Guinea’s interest and concern about the health of our environment and the people should not become part of the agenda. No doubt, transparency and accountability regarding the money involved in extractive industries matters because it is important to the health of the country’s economy, industry and good governance BUT our Environment and the lives of our people do matter too.

So why are we dancing to the tune of an outside interest and their agenda and therefore not allowing for our serious local concerns that matter most to us to be seriously included? Why are we subjecting the interest and safety of our people and environment to these institutions stupid long processes and Grievance mechanisms that are also cumbersome and slow and which wont effectively deal with the our sufferings?

I look at the USA owned copper mine in West Papua where there is now massive environmental damage – even more than from our own OK Tedi mine and Fly River. Yet the USA as a country is involved in EITI and but there is no solution to the destruction of the environment for the people of West Papua.

Someone needs to explain how EITI is going to seriously address the environmental problems that have been inflicted on us by these international companies with the support of our Government?

PNG government not addressing the real issues

Look at Ok Tedi and the Fly River destruction, Strickland River destruction, Misima Island Destruction, Bougainville’s Jaba River Destruction, Destruction from mining in the Morobe Province, Gang Rape of women in Pogera – aren’t these issues more important than transparency in the money flow from a mine?

The fact that, our Government does nothing about these issues and concerns and yet it has the ultimate duty and responsibility and authority to address them is of great concern.

It is beyond comprehension that our Government is ready to chip in public funds to get EITI up and running in PNG but it cant do the same to address the environmental and peoples rights abuse?

Civil society distracted by the money

As a result of the EITI movement, PNG civil society is now being dragged into worrying about the transparency of the “blood money” from the industry more than the health and the well being of our peoples and our environment. This is unacceptable and I cannot believe that we Papua New Guineans in civil society are even facilitating and promoting it. We have obviously got our priorities wrong in failing to address issues of fundamental concerns for the sustainable development of PNG!

The suffering of our people in Porgera, OK Tedi, Misima, Bougainville, and Morobe remains to this day as a very sorry aspect of our developmental history and yet no civil society groups (with a very few exceptions) has raised a single voice or made a noise about them and try to get our government to correct the wrong.

EITI is just like RSPO

I see EITI as being like the RSPO in the Oil Palm industry where industry players are members of RSPO and agree to a process for grievance mechanisms to address environmental and peoples rights issues. But it has taken more than three years for RSPO to address a complaint from Collingwood Bay communities registered with RSPO because of its industry members involvement in illegal SABL land grabs and illegal logging. We are still fighting to get a just resolution. I am told that RSPO has yet to penalize any of its members found to be in wrong.

Just how are we going to hold OK Tedi or Barrick Gold accountable for their wrong actions?

Can some of our colleagues involved in EITI show us how this will actually happen in PNG?



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

2 responses to “Will EITI improve mining outcomes – or just more corporate greenwashing?

  1. Ken Unamba

    Any mechanism to promote transparency should be welcomed for any industry or government organizations so EITI should be welcome as long as it serves its main objectives. The current situation in PNG with regards to distribution of wealth from extractive resources is in a sense non existent courtesy of the existing legislation which pretty much does not take into consideration the lively hood of the local communities, their environment, their local and the provincial governments. All the taxes, royalties and windfalls from projects goes straight to Waigani in the National Government coffers and gets redistributed throughout the country with no solid commitment from the windfalls to the immediate impact areas. For there to be a change to happen to the impact areas, as substantial amount of the revenue generated from a project must be diverted to the province and the local communities ie: 50% of all revenue is paid to the provincial government of which 50% is paid to the impacted district.(Prov. Gov/District Admin 25% apiece) The funds would be governed and held in the LLG accounts and they can implement projects in their community under very stringent guidelines.
    I believe this way, you cannot see rundown and sorry looking derelict towns like Bwagaoia and Wau/Bulolo, and soon to be Porgera and Tabubil.

  2. The land rights issue with PNG has been one that is setting the country back. Why don’t you get some advice from Singapore. No point in transparency when you have corrupt officials. Get your laws in place. You cannot have Tribal laws and modern laws clashing with each other. Employ incorruptible mine inspectors to keep the playing field level. Good luck.

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