Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fiji landowners get no say over mining lease

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times

LANDOWNERS automatically waive their rights to lease conditions when they deposit their land with the Land Bank Unit under the Ministry of Lands.

Director Land Bank Samuela Naicegucegu confirmed this yesterday saying lease agreements were only binding between the tenants and the unit.

Responding to concerns raised by the four landowning units in Nawailevu in Bua regarding how they had not received any lease conditions, Mr Naicegucegu said landowners had no entitlement to the leasing conditions.

This was evident in the meeting held earlier this week where mataqali Naicobo spokesman Vilikesa Kaidawa said when they were first approached about their land being used for bauxite mining, the two officers (who were named at the meeting) from the unit gave them just a short time to look at the documents over the lease.

Mr Kaidawa said at the meeting the landowners were also told whether they agreed or not, the bauxite mining would go ahead.

Representatives of the four landowning units told the Standing Committee on Natural Resources that they were still in the dark about the lease arrangements made between them and Aurum Explorations Fiji Ltd (XINFA).

Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd’s executive Derek Qiu confirmed they did not deal with the landowners to discuss lease conditions.

“We only dealt with Government and not the landowners,” Mr Qiu said.

At the meeting, Mr Kaidawa said they were not aware of the goodwill agreements made from the leasing of their land nor they had any documents containing the lease arrangements between them (landowners) and the mining company.

He told the committee the onus was on the Land Bank Unit to provide them with these important documents.

He said so far, the landowners did not understand what part of their submissions had been formally included into the lease as part of the lease arrangements between them and the company, or what was agreed to as part of the lease.

Mr Kaidawa said this was why people continued to question and doubt the whole project, adding they did not have a clear idea of where they stood as landowners.

When committee chairman Joeli Cawaki enquired if it was the same situation for the remaining three landowning units, Mr Kaidawa said they were all in the dark.

In an interview, Mr Naicegucegu said they would dispatch copies of the lease arrangements to the standing committee and the landowning units.

Earlier, a report tabled to the standing committee heard that the four landowning units in Nawailevu had already received $400,000 of about $1.5million paid to them.


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PNG ready to blow any hopes of a climate friendly future on dirty coal?

Miner enthuses over high quality coal in PNG

Vailala River, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea.

Vailala River, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea.

Radio New Zealand

An Australia-based miner says its drilling efforts in a 1.5 square kilometre-area in Papua New Guinea has revealed there is enough high quality coal to run a 50-megawatt power station for 30 years.

Mayur Resources has rights to explore a 120 km stretch of land in Gulf Province, close to the Purari and Vailala rivers.

Its chief executive officer Paul Mulder told Business Advantage PNG , that if his company keeps drilling as it intends to, the next five to 15 kilometres will reveal tens of millions of tonnes of coal.

He adds that the coal is some of the cleanest coal in the world, with low ash and sulphur levels.

The company is planning for the mine to be open cast, shallow at the surface, using local workers to provide the majority of the support required, he says.

Mr Mulder says a 50-megwatt power station would help fulfil the government’s stated aim of providing electricity to 70% of the country, from the current level of 11%.

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Drilling at Harmony’s Kili Teke confirms ‘fantastic copper-gold find’

Graham Briggs

Graham Briggs is tries to talk up Harmony’s share price

Megan Van Wyngaardt | Mining Weekly

In a world where new discoveries are rare, Harmony Gold is encouraged by the prospect that Kili Teke could well develop into another major copper-gold discovery, commented CEO Graham Briggs.

Additional drilling at the JSE-listed miner’s Kili Teke prospect in the Hela province, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), has returned porphyry copper-gold-style mineralisation, similar to deposit grades outlined for the company’s Frieda River and Ok Tedi projects.

Copper-gold mineralisation, defined by a 0.2% copper envelope, outlined over 600 m of strike, in excess of 200 m wide and extended 700 m below surface, grading at 0.72 g/t of gold and 1.02% copper.

Kili Teke’s early exploration drill results, including its KTDD013 and KTDD007 holes, yielded 0.55% copper and 0.43 g/t of gold.

The miner advised that more upside potential existed at its 100%-owned exploration licence, with mineralisation being open at depth and along strike, while drilling to scope out the extent and geometry of the system was still ongoing.

“The latest drilling results are extremely encouraging and confirm that this asset is yet another fantastic copper-gold find by Harmony in PNG. The mineralised footprint is growing as the drilling progresses with zones of higher-grade stockwork mineralisation and intervals of mineralised skarn breccia developing within the broader envelope,” outlined Briggs. 

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Nautilus Mining awards vessel dewatering plant design contract

Yet another foreign company to profit from PNG taxpayer money given by the government to Canadian miner Nautilus Minerals…

See Also:

PNG people pay for profits of European firms feeding off experimental seabed mining plans

British to cash in on experimental seabed mining in PNG

mining vessel

Henry Lazenby | Mining Weekly

Prospective seafloor miner Nautilus Minerals has awarded a contract for the detailed design of the Solwara 1 dewatering plant to be used on the company’s production support vessel to the Brisbane office of the global consulting engineering firm DRA Group.

The scope of work awarded to DRA involved the detailed design of the vessel-mounted material processing facilities. With a design capacity of 400 t/h, the plant would include screening the seafloor massive sulphides into a number of size fractions, followed by dewatering using centrifuges and filter presses, eventually filtering to eight microns.

The combined dewatered product would then be temporarily stored in the vessel’s hold, before transhipment by Handimax vessels to Nautilus’ processing partner in China. The remaining filtered water would then be returned through the enclosed riser system to drive the subsea lift pump and discharged within 50 m of the seafloor from where it originally came.

The detailed design phase was expected to be complete by the fourth quarter, following which the vessel-mounted modules would be fabricated and precommissioned onshore before integration onto the completed vessel.

Construction of the process plant was expected to start early next year, with first production from the Solwara 1 project, offshore Papua New Guinea (PNG), being scheduled for 2018.

DRA had accumulated significant specialised experience from its offshore diamond recovery projects off the coast of southwest Africa. DRA regional director Donald Holley explained that this experience included overcoming the challenges in designing and operating process plants mounted on ships, resulting particularly from the impact of the dynamic environment from wave movement, and the need for modular construction.

The company was in the process of pioneering the concept of mining the ocean bed for copper, gold, zinc and silver.

Using a trio of submersible robots, Nautilus was intent on recovering high-grade polymetallic seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) deposits at 1 600 m below the surface of the Bismarck Sea, within the Western Pacific Ocean’s Rim of Fire.

The operation aimed to produce ore at a rate of more than 1.3-million tons a year, with the capacity to ultimately ramp up to 1.8-million tons a year of dewatered ore, which would be delivered to the PNG Port of Rabaul.

The Solwara 1 project team in 2007 reported the world’s first SMS resource statement after it drilled a National Instrument 43-101-compliant resource using newly developed, remotely operated drills.

As of November 25, 2011, the Solwara 1 project had an indicated mineral resource of one-million tons, grading 7.2% of copper, 5 g/t of gold, 23 g/t of silver and 0.4% of zinc. Its inferred resource comprised 1.54-million tons, grading 8.1 % of copper, 6.4 g/t of gold, 34 g/t of silver and 0.9% of zinc.

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Pacific civil society wants seabed mining to stop

stop experimental seabed mining poster


​Citizens from all around the world including civil society organizations in the Pacific have joined the global call on the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to halt issuing further exploration licenses and to establish a moratorium on experimental dee

The Pacific coalition inclusive of partners with the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) in Madang, Papua New Guinea, and regional NGO, Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) supports the international call.

PANG’s Media and Campaigns Officer, Joey Tau says it is risky for the Pacific region as work on this experimental process of mining our seafloor is progressing faster than the science can catch up.

“Over 1.5 million square kilometres of ocean floor within Pacific EEZ’s is already under exploration leasehold in the Pacific Ocean alone and the ISA has approved 27 exploration licenses for deep sea mining in international waters,” said Tau.

Hey say it is disappointing that exploration in the Pacific has taken place with no proper understanding of the environmental impacts of exploration, let alone full scale exploitation of resources.  In addition the free and prior informed consent of customary land owners have not been considered in the rush to mine minerals on the seafloor.

BRG coordinator, John Chitoa, shared similar views, adding that terrestrial mining in PNG and the region have proven disastrous, thus we should not touch the sea which is our heritage, our identity, and our existence.

“The risks and impacts of this experimental mining are still unknown and Pacific people must be properly consulted before any work is carried including exploration,” said Chitoa.

New Zealand has rejected two marine applications to mine the seabed while the Northern Territory of Australia has extended the imposed moratoriums (which have later led to respective bans).

All of these decisions based on the lack of clear scientific understanding of the impact of seabed mining and therefore the strictest application of the precautionary principle, as well as the potential impact of livelihoods and customary practices of indigenous communities who are custodians of these resources.

Chitoa argues that both cases from New Zealand and Australia should be precedent cases for the Pacific, especially PNG to follow.

The coalition adds that the issue of deep sea mining is not just for scientists and mining companies. The debate has to be much broader and completely transparent.

There is insufficient scientific data about the impacts of experimental deep sea mining, no regulatory frameworks in place to govern mining operations and the capacity to enforce such frameworks does not yet exist.

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Solomon Islands government seizes Apid’s controversial log shipment


Solomon Islands loggingThe Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Forestry and Research (MFR) has halted a log shipment attempted by the Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) this week.

A notice was issued against the company to stop any export of round logs and to immediately halt any logging operations on Rennell Island.

Permanent Secretary, Vaeno Vigulu said this action was taken following claims the mining company had felled and exported round logs ‘illegally’ without the right process which had angered landowners in Rennell.

Vigulu said the shipment is currently held up at Noro Port by customs officials and the matter is now pending a High Court ruling.

“We have applied for a seizure notice which means the logs are now state properties and as a responsible ministry we’ve played our part,” he said.

Vigulu also clarified that they have not issued any felling licence or export permit for APID to pursue logging activities on Rennell.

“The action by APID was not right, thus the Forestry Acts empowers the Ministry to issue a seizure notice to halt the operation,” he added.

The seizure notice was served to the company but APID continued to ignore and attempted logs out of the country.

He also warned that his Ministry will investigate further to determine if any Forestry Officials are involved in the matter.

APID is a mining company which has its license to mine bauxite on Rennell revoked by the Minister of Mines following controversies surrounding its operation.

A legal challenge between the company and the Minister of Mines is currently before the High Court.


Filed under Corruption, Financial returns, Solomon Islands

Ocean Mining set to cause new era of Ecological Disasters


Americas dot org

Both private companies and governments recognize the lucrative opportunities available in deep sea mining. Michael Lodge, deputy secretary-general of the ISA has stated that “[t]he concentrations of minerals that [miners] find in the seabed are very much richer than what’s left on land. So demand is only going to increase.”

However, despite the abundance of seabed minerals, scientists from across the globe urged the ISA to temporary halt the granting of new mining contracts until areas of “marine protected areas” are established near areas set aside for mining. Both the commercial and conservation issues related to deep sea mining were discussed at an ISA forum earlier this month.

Technological advances in robotics coupled with dwindling land-based mineral deposits is leading to what conservationists call a “marine industrial revolution.”

Deep seabed mining activity has increased sharply over the past five years as there is a rising demand for cobalt, copper and gold, elements required in manufacturing smartphones. This demand has led the International Seabed Authority (“ISA”), the United Nations agency established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, has issued 27 exploration contracts to date. The majority of these 15-year contracts were issued since 2011 and allow for mineral surveying on greater than 390,000 square miles of seabed in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

According to Professor Richard Steiner, Conservation Biologist of Oasis Earth,“[t]he issue of deep sea mining is not just for scientists and mining companies. The debate has to be much broader and completely transparent. Presently, the ISA and sponsoring governments receive scientific advice and input primarily from companies with vested interests in a particular policy or regulatory result of the Authority. The authority’s decision making processes must be open to the participation of civil society and independent scientists.”

Douglas McCauley, an ecologist and conservation biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has stated that current proposals for the world’s oceans in the near future “look uncomfortably similar to what [people] did to land in the 1700s and 1800s.” He also noted that the increase in land-based industrialization caused an increase in animal extinction rates, and that increased deep sea mining would likely do the same.

Despite scientists’ warnings, the ISA recently granted its latest exploration contract to China Minmetals Corp., sponsored by Beijing. This 28,100 square mile permit in the Pacific Ocean makes China the country with the most permits from ISA, totalling four.

The United States is not a member of ISA as Congress has argued its policies could potentially impinge on U.S. military and economic sovereignty.

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Axiom Mining bags A$5M for ongoing development of Isabel Nickel

Proactive Investors


Axiom Mining has raised $5 million to fund the ongoing development of Isabel Nickel Project in Solomon Islands.

Axiom Mining has received strong support from the investment community in securing a $5 million private placement at $0.37 from institutional, sophisticated and professional investors.

This is a substantial raise and vote of confidence in Axiom’s operations, especially considering the current difficult capital markets.

Funds will be allocated to the ongoing development of the Isabel Nickel Project in the Solomon Islands.

Axiom said that discussions with industry participants interested in providing structured finance are ongoing, and the company hopes to be in a position to make an announcement soon.

Activities at the project continue to move forward, with resource drilling and camp upgrade activities are underway as Axiom moves towards the target of establishing a direct shipping ore operation by late 2015.

Ryan Mount, CEO, commented: “Today’s funding, plus the award of $5 million in court costs along with $9 million due from the exercise of options, puts Axiom in an enviable financial position.

“We now have 50% of our mine development capital expenditure covered and expect the balance of funding to come from potential customers, this will see us through to production and a positive cash flow position.”

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Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi mine suspends production, stands down workforce

ok tedi

Wesley Manuai | ABC News

Papua New Guinea’s controversial Ok Tedi mine will slash its workforce and halt production due to weak copper prices and recent dry weather, managing director Peter Graham has told staff.

Low water levels in the Fly River have seen the company struggle to transport copper ore from their port in Kiunga to customers at the mouth of the river.

It has also affected the supply routes for diesel and food.

In a letter to staff, Ok Tedi’s managing director Peter Graham said 15 per cent of the Papua New Guinean workforce and 30 per cent of its expatriate employees would be retrenched.

“I know many people reading this [memo] will be shocked and find it hard to believe that such drastic action has to be taken,” Mr Graham said.

“These very difficult decisions have been taken to ensure that the business will be viable for the long term,” he said.

Aside from the retrenchments, Ok Tedi will be standing down most of its workforce without pay, but offering some allowances.

Employees who have children attending company-run schools in Tabubil, have been asked to transfer their children to schools in their home provinces.

A board meeting on July 23 decided to declare a “force majeure” and advised shareholders the company would not be able to meet its obligations.

Mr Graham said while most employees were being flown home, a skeleton crew would be on site for maintenance and security, while the company assesses the weather situation.

Ok Tedi said weather reports predict only a 20 per cent chance of normal rainfall in the next six months.

The company is coordinating with the Western Province administration on an emergency response given the likely impact the shutdown will have on communities dependent on the mine.

Ok Tedi faced a similar situation in 1997 and 1998, when its operations were shut down for more than six months, following an El Nino weather pattern.

In 2015 global gold and copper prices have dropped to their lowest point for many years.

Since the 1980s, the Ok Tedi mine created billions of dollars of revenue for Australian company BHP but waste dumped into the river system caused widespread damage.

BHP handed over its majority share to a local trust in 2001 in return for legal immunity.

In 2013, the PNG government passed legislation to take over the PNG Sustainable Development Program – effectively nationalising the mine.

The Government approved an extension for mining and exploration within the area, but those plans have now ground to a halt.

OK Tedi PNG copper mine output stalled by low river water


OK Tedi Mining Limited is preparing to temporarily shut down its copper mine in Papua New Guinea because dry weather is making operations difficult, the company said in a statement.

“River traffic on the Fly River into and out Ok Tedi’s main river port at Kiunga has been unreliable for some weeks due to low water levels,” state-owned OK Tedi Mining said.

“Transport of copper concentrate product to Port Moresby for on-shipment has also been unreliable creating uncertainty with regard to cash inflows necessary to sustain operation.”

Analysts say the mine produced about 76,000 tonnes of copper last year.

The company added that the low river flow also affected operation of the Ok Menga power station, which is the main source of power for its operations.

“Concurrent with the planned stand down of the workforce due to the dry weather event, the permanent workforce number of expatriates will be reduced by 30 percent and nationals by 15 percent,” it said.

“These changes are essential to help position OTML to better cope with a low commodity price environment on resumption of operations.”

Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi copper, gold mine halts production

Cecilia Jamasmie | Mining dot com

Papua New Guinea’s controversial Ok Tedi copper and gold mine will slash jobs and temporarily halt production as a result of weak copper prices and recent dry weather.

The state-owned company said that low water levels in the close-by Fly River have made it difficult to transport copper ore from the Kiunga port to customers at the mouth of the river.

The miner added that the low river flow also affected the Ok Menga power station, which is the main source of power for its operations.

“Concurrent with the planned stand down of the workforce due to the dry weather event, the permanent workforce number of expatriates will be reduced by 30% and nationals by 15%,” it said in a statement.

Aside from the cutbacks, Ok Tedi will be standing down most of its workforce without pay, but offering some allowances.

Ok Tedi faced a similar situation in 1997 and 1998, when its operations were closed for more than six months, following an El Niño weather pattern.

Both copper and gold prices have lost their value this year, hitting historical lows.

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PNG and Solomons slammed for forced labour and prostitution in logging and mining industries

Reporting by Radio New Zealand

Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are on a United States’ watchlist because of forced labour and prostitution particularly in the logging and mining industries.

The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 highlights boys as young as 12 being exploited as “market taxis” – being forced to carry extremely heavy loads for low pay, some of them victims of forced labour.

An estimated one in five workers in PNG are children, some of whom are forced into work or prostitution.

According to the report, tribal leaders reportedly trade exploited labour with each other as well as the services of girls and women for guns and to forge political alliances.

Malaysian and Chinese companies are accused of arranging for women from East Asian countries to enter the country fraudulently and transporting them to logging and mining camps where they are forced into prostitution.

Chinese, Malaysian and local men are also subjected to forced labour in the camps with little pay and at the mercy of debt bondage schemes.

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Filed under Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands