Monthly Archives: November 2016

State urged to hold off project agreement on Frieda

A LAWYER and a former MP have urged the Government to hold off the project agreement on the Frieda copper and gold project until after the general election next year.

Former Maprik MP in East Sepik Sir Pita Lus and lawyer Alois Jerewai said it should be left to the leaders elected in 2017.

“The mandate of the Government and the East and the West Sepik provincial governments have only less than one year to expire.

“Therefore the decision in relation to the terms and conditions of the Frieda mine project must be left to the leaders after the 2017 general elections,” Jerewai said.

“It concerns us that the Government under the stewardship of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is rushing to have the Frieda mine brought into operation to sustain the seriously falling economy of Papua New Guinea at any cost.”

He said the biggest cost would be the ecological impact on the Sepik River basin and the tributaries which support and sustain almost half a million of people.

“In the event that the mine is rushed into operation without proper scrutiny by our current leaders, the Sepik people will be the ones who will suffer the most,” Jerewai said.

Sir Pita called on the Government, the Mineral Resource Authority and the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority to provide the proposed or the actual mine waste management and disposal plan to the provincial governments for assessment by their own scientists and engineers.

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Exxon-Mobil police accused of reprisal attack in Hela province

hela-people

Hela Province Tribesmen Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Radio New Zealand is reporting [see below] that a police mobile squad employed by Exxon Mobil as security for its LNG project, has carried out a reprisal attack on innocent villagers in Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province.

A local Red Cross field worker says the police burnt almost 200 houses and destroyed property and livestock in retaliation for an earlier attack on a VIP convey that resulted in one death.

“Then the next morning, LNG security police, hired by (the LNG project developer) ExxonMobil – because one of the policemen that was injured was LNG security police – so they came up and they went for a raid, burning all properties,” he said.

“They went extreme, and even innocent people’s properties (were burnt), not the warriors’ place only.”

A local police commander has admitted, but downplayed the incident. According to Michael Welly, Hela Provincial Police Commander,

“Obviously they went and everybody hid them, so obviously one or two houses were put up in flames, yeah.”

Police mobile squads areare notorious for their violence and human rights abuses PNG, in many cases these are connected with major resource extraction industries.

PNG mobile police squads are notorious for their violence and human rights abuses

Situation tense in PNG’s Hela after convoy attack

Radio New Zealand | 29 November 2016

The Komo region in Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province remains tense after a deadly ambush on a convoy carrying MPs last week, according to the provincial police commander.

The attack was related to a tribal conflict and represents a near miss for the Komo Magarima MP, Francis Potape, who is also the Hela Governor, and the Higher Education Minister Francis Marus.

Last Tuesday, their convoy came upon a blockade in the remote region and the MPs’ vehicle was eventually forced to turn around.

However, a man in another of the convoy’s vehicles was identified as an enemy by the tribesmen manning the blockade and was forced out of the vehicle and shot at point blank range.

Another man from Tari died in a subsequent shootout, said Michael Welly, the Hela provincial police commander.

Mr Welly said that the next day police went to Ligame, where the suspects are from, but were unable to capture the men.

“When police went in, they all ran away into the bush. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult running after someone in the bush,” he said. “They’re still at large, but we know who the main suspects are and hope to have them apprehended some time later. But for now the situation is still tense.”

Claim of police reprisal

Meanwhile, the police mobile unit has been accused of launching a reprisal in their pursuit of the perpetrators after the deadly attack.

A local Red Cross field worker, Isaac Pulupe, said the tribal warriors who conducted the ambush were from Ligame.

“Then the next morning, LNG security police, hired by (the LNG project developer) ExxonMobil – because one of the policemen that was injured was LNG security police – so they came up and they went for a raid, burning all properties,” he said.

“They went extreme, and even innocent people’s properties (were burnt), not the warriors’ place only.”

Isaac Pulupe said almost 200 houses in Ligame were burnt or destroyed along with much of the village’s property and livestock.

However, Mr Welly played down this suggestion, explaining that the police mobile squad was asked to go to Ligame to search for the suspects.

“Obviously they went and everybody hid them, so obviously one or two houses were put up in flames, yeah.”

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Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

PNG Cabinet yet to receive coal power plant bid

coal fired power

Rosalyn Albaniel | Post Courier | November 29, 2016

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says cabinet has not received any proposal on the coal-fired power plants that Australian-based company, Mayur Resources, is proposing to establish to remedy the country’s power deficiencies.

Mr O’Neill was responding to questions on the proposal by Australian company Mayur Resources to build three coal-fired power stations in the country. Furthering its implications is the climate change initiatives PNG has signed up to.

Mayur Resources is proposing to build three of what it says are multi-fuel facilities with clean coal technology and not standard coal-fired power plants.

The first has been earmarked for Lae city and which will supply 50 megawatts of electricity at a cost between K300 million and K400 million using coal that would be mined and shipped from Gulf Province.

The other two power stations will be built in Madang and Port Moresby.

Mr O’Neill said it was early days still to jump to any conclusion as to whether this was going to be an issue that would be bad for the country.

However, Mr O’Neill said advice would be sought from appropriate experts including from Conservation and Environment Protection Authority before any conclusive decision was reached on this project.

“It is quite obvious that coal generated energy is much cheaper than even hydro, gas and everything else and that is why countries like Australia and all the other big countries like Japan and India are using coal today as we speak.

“We must have an open mind but yes we are signatories to the climate change outcomes including COP21 and we will have to comply with them.

“We have already accepted that through Parliament and we have no choice but to work within that framework,” Mr O’Neill said.

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Bougainville Community Leaders and Landowners condemn illegal Chinese Gold Dredging

Minister

Reports from the area say that a fair-size gold dredge has been installed on the tailings to suck up tailings material from which gold is extracted for export by the company.

Bougainville News | 24 November 2016

Landowners at the Panguna Mine Tailings areas in Central Bougainville have called on the Autonomous Bougainville Government to immediately close down the “illegal” Gold Dredging operation by a Chinese company operating on their land without proper authorization by the appropriate authorities of the government.

The call by the landowners is drawing support from the Southern and Northern Regions of Bougainville.

Community leaders , Clarence Pokona, and Chris Siriosi from Central and Northern Regions of Bougainville respectively have expressed concern that requests by landowners and the wider Bougainville community to ABG leadership for an explanation on how the investment was approved without proper technical evaluation from relevant agencies who had the expertise, continues to be ignored by the ABG leadership.

Additionally, the company has established an office on site and a compound for it’s foreign workers. These premises and gold dredging facility are said to be heavily guarded by security.

Additionally, the company has established an office on site and a compound for it’s foreign workers. These premises and gold dredging facility are said to be heavily guarded by security.

“This company is operating without proper authorization in contravention of the appropriate investment and mining laws, said Mr Siriosi.

“It appears as if they were deliberately allowed into the tailings area of the Panguna Mine under the guise of producing bricks to undertake an alluvial gold mining operation… This is totally unacceptable

Mr Pokona said that according to Landowners from the area, Joe Sipu and Dominic Sipu, the company involved in the dredging operation was 95 percent foreign-owned with 5 percent share-holding apportioned to certain landowners and ABG.

“The company Jaba Joint Development Limited was allowed into the area by the ABG Commerce Minister, Fidelis Semoso [Semoso has a history of corrupt behaviour] under the pretext of making bricks. However the bricks they produced were of inferior quality and were found to be unsuitable for use in buildings and structures because the sand from the tailings was contaminated with material waste from the mine upstream”, Mr Pokona said.

“We were unaware that they had been processing gold until recently when the dredge was brought in.”

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Filed under Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Mine workers in Fiji not covered by Health and Safety laws

Mine workers in Fiji are not covered by Occupational Health and safety Laws

Mine workers in Fiji are not covered by Occupational Health and Safety Laws

Union: Miners not covered

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | November 26, 2016

THE mining sector is not covered under the country’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation, an issue that the Fiji Trades Union Congress is very concerned about.

FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony said miners had been promised they would have their own OHS laws since 2007, and yet, nothing had been done.

Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate confirmed the mining industry was not covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1996.

Mr Usamate said the Act applied to all workplaces in Fiji except workplaces or operations connected with the Mining Act, Quarries Act, Explosives Act and Petroleum (Exploration and Exploitation) Act.

“The mining industry is not covered under the health and safety at Work Act as this law deals with health and safety in general whereas in mining, there are industry specific characteristics or risks that are specific to it,” he said.

“The competencies required for mine inspectorates are industry specific whilst OHS inspectors have general health and safety competencies and the mining industry operates under stringent risk management systems that are unique to the mining industry.

“I will look into this issue ensuring at all times that the best interests of Fiji as a whole are our priority.”

Mr Anthony said mine employees worked in a dangerous industry.

“The risk of injury and even death is extremely high and there are no OHS laws to govern their workplace,” he said.

“We are very concerned about the working condition of workers in the mining industry and call on the Government to look into the matter with urgency.”

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Fiji mine villagers to invest $1m

The horizon on the mountain top seen behind Inosi Masivava the head of yavusa maururu of Nadua Village will be the third bauxite mining site in Bua. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

The horizon on the mountain top seen behind Inosi Masivava the head of yavusa maururu of Nadua Village will be the third bauxite mining site in Bua. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

Serafina Silaitoga | The Fiji Times | November 23, 2016

A LARGE sum of the premium payment of $1.8 million for the third bauxite mine in Bua will be invested.

Members of the yavusa Maururu of Nadua Village and landowning unit of the new bauxite mine at Wainunu have agreed to invest most of the funds for their future generations.

Yavusa head Inosi Masivava said they were working with the iTaukei Land Trust Board about these issues.

“We will invest $1m and we have discussed options for investment, but it has to happen because our decisions today will have an impact on our future generations,” he said.

“All 22 members of our yavusa have agreed to this because we know that investing money increases our savings.”

Apart from the investment fund, the yavusa has also set aside $600,000 for improved housing project.

Mr Masivava said a few members had already built, extended and refurbished their houses in the village.

“We could not do this in the past because our income was limited and we could only pay the bills, buy food and take care of other expenses,” he said.

“But now we are seeing a big difference and fast change to our daily living with parents being able to build new toilets and bathrooms.

“It’s encouraging and great to see the positive changes happening within our yavusa, especially with our members.”

Mr Masivava said bauxite mining would not begin anytime soon.

“It will happen on our piece of land, but we have been advised that it will happen later.”

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Filed under Fiji, Financial returns

Julius Chan speaks out against experimental seabed mining

Undersea mining not beneficial, says Sir J

Undersea mining not beneficial, says ex-PM and New Ireland Governor, Julius Chan

The National aka The Loggers Times | November 28, 2016

NEW Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan has spoken out against undersea mining in his province by Nautilus Minerals.
He said New Ireland had also not benefited fully from the Lihir mine.
Sir Julius said last Friday that he had a lot of reservations given the possible environmental impact of undersea mining in his province.
“When you drill down, one-mile deep, I don’t know,” he said.
“The sea, in my province, is the garden of my people.
“That’s why we don’t have too much food security problems.
“I have great reservations and I want to tell you that I’m not a friend of Nautilus. They make all kinds of promises.
“They even promised me they would build bridges four years ago but they did not even design a bridge for me to have a look at.
“I’ve trod very cautiously on this one.”
Sir Julius said the Lihir Island had also not benefitted fully from the mine.
“After 20 years, Lihir has not even got a proper ring road,” he said.
“The water is polluted, sometimes the fish die.
“They say all the nice and promising things in their negotiations, but when they start to operate, they put up barricades.”

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