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.”



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

3 responses to “Julius Chan speaks out against experimental seabed mining

  1. Ismael K.Isikel

    This is encouraging but it but it remains to be seen if this opposition to experimental seabed mining is going to be brought to the floor of Parliament.

  2. Lawrence Cremin

    Nice to hear and totally agree. If you have ever been to New Ireland and eaten a crab from the “garden” and appreciated that the “garden” has been supporting people for hundreds of years and, if you have looked round and appreciated the natural beauty, you too would oppose anything that might put these benefits at risk.

  3. Agree. It seems Sir Julius Chan has finally come to his senses but his track record is appalling.
    His own book, “Playing the Game” is Chan’s own account of the role he played during these decades of political, economic and social change. It also explores the vexed issues of increasing corruption, government failure, and the unprecedented exploitation of PNG’s precious natural resources.
    Perhaps Sir Julius Chan has realised who had driven him to his extreme cruelty and he now realises how he harmed the people and landowners in Bougainville as well as his own people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) by being brainwashed by the Mining Companies that he supported and therefore, manipulated others.
    Here is a radio interview from 2012 on ABC News
    Former PNG PM wants resources to be owned by landowners
    Updated 15 February 2012, 12:41 AEDT
    A former prime minister of Papua New Guinea says the country’s traditional land owners should own the rights to the natural resources under their land.

    Sir Julius Chan, who is now governor of New Ireland Province, says the Bougainville crisis, which began as a dispute over who got the money generated by a huge copper and gold mine on the island, is an object lesson in what happens when people feel they are not getting the benefits they feel entitled to.

    He says his experiences as prime minister during that conflict have convinced him a change is needed in the law which grants the state the rights to PNG’s rich mineral deposits.

    Sir Julius says that landowners are quite capable of agreeing to mining leases, which would ensure the benefits go directly to local people rather than the government.

    Presenter: Bruce Hill

    Speaker: Sir Julius Chan, governor of New Ireland Province and a former prime minister of PNG

    SIR JULIUS CHAN: I begin from the position that a country an independent state like Papua New Guinea cannot buy what it already own. The resources under the ground by virtue of the act of 1992 make the state the sole owner of anything below, above and in the water and out at sea. If you look at the history of Papua New Guinea for the last 35 years now. We’re approaching 36. With this kind of legislation, it has not proven any development in the lives of the people in Papua New Guinea. For some unknown reason and I must include myself here because of the infancy of self-government independence and haste in which we’ve acquired that. We legislated to restrict ourselves from ownership of this resources.

    Let me put it in another way. Does it make any sense of business to transfer title in property to someone freely like foreign investors for paltry payment of ten-thousand kina and then when things are discovered buy back from them at 30 per cent or more for up to 300 million or more? It doesn’t make any sense. Now does it make any sense at all for a country to earn billions and we’ve earned that money in income and not being able to improve the lives of the people. I think if we ask those three questions, then we start thinking of the reason why I have chosen, transform the ownership of the resources back to the traditional landowners. I believe that the wealth of any country should be in the hands of the people so that when the people are rich, then a nation is rich.

    HILL: But you were prime minister for a number of years, why didn’t you do something about that when you were in power?

    SIR JULIUS CHAN: Yeah, you’re quite right and I admit it just then that I included, that because of the infancy of the period leading to the political status of our country, we don’t want to shake the boat in anyway or form and you can recall the Bougainville situation was created before self-government and independence, so we had that to follow. The pattern is already set for us and it was a colonial pattern that set the stage of the economic development of the resources in the hands of the state. So it was set by the colonial masters at that time.

    HILL: And you weren’t able to do anything about it when you were in power, so what’s made you change your mind since then to really come down and say look, it really belongs to the traditional landowners, what changed your mind?

    SIR JULIUS CHAN: Well it’s very simple, we didn’t have any more than Bougainville at that time. We now have major resources taking place, we have a lot of disputes going on and they will continue. Something must be wrong in the system of ownership, in defining the ownership of the land. So in this way, I totally disagree with Sir Arnold Ahmet that it should be held by the state, because the state has never solved these problems and you can see what is happening already with the LNG. We’ve lost a lot of lives already. Some are totally unreported, because places are so remote, but tribal fightings have increased. There is a lot of disputes and the closure of the reservoir now in Port Moresby. They’re all related to the ownership and the benefits of the traditional landowners.

    HILL: But would that situation be better or perhaps worse if traditional landowners held the title to the resources?

    SIR JULIUS CHAN: Well, if they’re involved, if they own the resources and be involved in the initial definition of their land and also involved in the establishment of the benefit sharing. I think at some point, we’ve got to give credit to the mothers and the fathers of Papua New Guinea that they will be more responsible in living up to the conditions that they themselves established, whereas now it’s completely different. It’s just been shoved down their throat!

    HILL: But Sir Arnold Ahmed says it’s extremely difficult for that sort of a system to work because who would the people who wanted to extract the resources negotiate with. You have a plethora of tribes and clans and even when you reach an agreement, there’s always some other group of people says what about us we weren’t included? It can be very problematic negotiating with traditional landowners, because there’s no one address for that. There’s lots of people that you all have to sign up?

    SIR JULIUS CHAN: That is correct and this exactly what is happening now. This is no solution. The state is doing just that negotiating with the landowners and owning the resources. I am saying that time has come to put the people, to accept their responsibilities, their ownerships of their resources, make decisions that affect them, that development and after the life of the mine. I believe that Papua New Guineans are no different to any other human beings on this planet. When they feel the ownership of the place, they’ll make responsible decisions, so I totally disagree with Sir Arnold Ahmet. It’s the only system that we’ve been used to and I think a change is required, because we have not improved the lives of the people. Now, we ought to take all these things totally into account. It’s not just a matter of building wealth, it’s the wealth is not improving the lives of our people and therefore there must be a big shift in the benefits of that wealth and it must be in the hands of the people, so that the grassroots have the opportunity to develop themself.

    HILL: Is this the issue now more urgent to sort out because of the big LNG project and even larger projects in the pipeline which will involve not just millions of dollars, but billions of dollars. There’s a massive amount of money at stake here, isn’t there?

    SIR JULIUS CHAN: Yes, yes, and there’s a massive discourse if nothing is resolved between now and the period of developing the oil and gas. So look, I think I’m not going to be very rigid in this, but I am going to say this, that we must research very deeply into the cause of all these problems and we must be prepared to make adjustment necessary to accommodate the development of the people with the current thinking of educated people coming up. I truly believe that the owners of these resources will change, will transform from the current, almost unsophisticated people in the hinterland, to the young, new generation of very educated people who will know the law, who will know that the customary law define the land that belongs to their group and they will accept the responsibility. I’m very certain this will happen with the new generation of young educated people.

    HILL: How much of your thinking on this has been shaped by your experiences when you were prime minister dealing with what happened as a result of the copper mine on Bougainville and all the discord that happened as a result of that. Has this played a roll in your thinking about traditional ownership of resources?

    SIR JULIUS CHAN: That is basically correct and as you can see there’s really what’s happened in Bougainville should be a lesson for all of us. It cost up to 15,000 lives lost and the Bougainvilleans, one of the sad, the resource, this is our custom, the resource on top, under, elsewhere belong to the people. They welcome the mine the Rio Tinto and Bougainville Copper to come in and develop it, but they want to make sure that they have the maximum share of that wealth and it is because of that that the Bougainville crisis flared up. It was not because of anything else. And I think it was speaking the truth, I think it was speaking the thinking behind every Papua New Guinean that the ownership of the resources must be in their hand, not the state.

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