Monthly Archives: February 2017

Mining minister seen as hindrance to Solomons exploration

Axiom drilling activity on Isabel Nickel Project. Photo: Supplied

Axiom drilling activity on Isabel Nickel Project. Photo: Supplied

Radio New Zealand | 27 February 2017

A Solomon Islands mining professional says more government support is needed to unlock the country’s significant mining potential.

This comes as reconstruction of the closed Gold Ridge gold mine in Guadalcanal was to begin within the fortnight.

A mining engineer and exploration geologist, Desmond Sese, said the island has other promising deposits.

“The only hindrance we have now is the government not really supporting the mining industry. But in Guadalcanal, I’ll say there’s huge potential geologically,” Desmond Sese said.

Mr Sese is involved with Guadalcanal Exploration, a subsidiary of SolGold, whose application for an exploration permit at Kuma on Guadalcanal was still pending.

He said the Mines and Minerals board approved the permit in 2015, but that the minister was yet to sign off on it.

Political interference, according to Mr Sese, was holding the local mining scene back.



Filed under Exploration, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands mine begins long road back to production

The over-full tailings dam facility at the Gold Ridge Gold Mine on Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands in January 2015. Photo: copyright Dr Matthew Allen - Australian National University

The over-full tailings dam facility at the Gold Ridge Gold Mine on Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands in January 2015. Photo: copyright Dr Matthew Allen – Australian National University

The new owners of the Gold Ridge gold mine in Solomon Islands plan to begin reconstruction of the closed mine within the fortnight.

Radio New Zealand | 27 February 2017

Rehabilitating the mine, which was abandoned by its last owner St Barbara in April 2014 after massive flooding, is a major task which includes the reconstruction of washed out roads and bridges to restore access to the mine.

However, work has been delayed by a falling out between the ministry of mines and the minority shareholding landowners company, Guadalcanal Community Investments Ltd.

Its chairperson, Walter Naezon, said this resulted in the mines minister cancelling their mining lease last year.

“We actually looked at this and [we] understand that the land was held by the land owner, the PE [Perpetual Estate Title] of the land, so how can he cancel the mining lease. You can do that with a foreign company but since the landowners took over 100 percent of the mine I don’t think you can cancel it. So those are the misunderstandings. We have settled that.”

Mr Naezon said it had taken several months but the dispute has now been resolved and the majority shareholder, Chinese-owned Australian company AXF Group is expected to begin rehabilitating the mine within the fortnight.

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Filed under Mine construction, Solomon Islands

Hela of a gun haul


Gynnie Kero | The National aka The Loggers Times | February 27 2017
PEOPLE from Tari Pori in Hela gave up  150 guns and ammunition to security forces in Tari last Friday, making it the biggest gun surrender in Hela to date.
Out of the 150 firearms, 130 were homemade ones and 20 factory made. In all, at least 600 guns were surrendered in the province.  The factory-made guns included M16s, SLR (Self-Loading Rifle), pump actions and guns of all makes.
Finance Minister and Tari Pori MP James Marape praised those who surrendered their weapons in Hela.
He said that those who still hid their firearms after the amnesty would be dealt with by the law.
Operation contingent leaders Superintendent Samson Kua and Lt Col John Manuai thanked Marape for leading his Tari Pori people in hosting the biggest surrender in the province.
“On record, I can say that Tari Pori has come in a big way to surrender firearms,” Kua said.
The Tari Pori district will soon launch its community educational facility at Pai and  begin enrollment for youths who returned weapons.
Marape pointed youths towards education and not guns.
“Our Tari Pori district has the 800-student Pai College ready,” he said.
“I will take all youths into this facility to ensure you are educated to your capacity and become useful members of our society instead of living under the influence of gun and tribalism.”
More than 3000 members of Marape’s Piribu,  Paibali , Tipa, Waralo, Linabini , Hambuali and Pai clansmen, women and church members were part of the surrender programme.
Local leader and former mayor of Tari town Kopi Yabe appealed to leaders, businessmen and women and public servants of Hela to follow Marape and his tribes.
During the occasion also saw Hela provincial treasurer Marago Dagoba and Hela election manager John Tipa surrendering their tribe’s guns.
Local businessman Andaija Jeli also surrendered his.
Manuai said destruction of the firearms was delayed by a few days until Friday as all Hela MPs would be attending to Government business in Port Moresby.
Initially, the date set for destruction of firearms was tomorrow, coinciding with the second phase of the operation.


Filed under Papua New Guinea

Tussle over HPL’s future control and the Frieda river mine


See also: Frieda river mining companies involved in internal war

Post Courier | February 27, 2017

A RIFT has developed between Highlands Pacific Limited (HPL) and its shareholder, Chinese group Guangdong Rising Assets Management Co Ltd (GRAM), over the future control of the Papua New Guinea company.

HPL says it is a battle with potentially major ramifications for its multi-billion kina PNG projects, including Frieda River, Ramu Nickel and Star Mountains.

Last week, GRAM subsidiary PanAust, which owns a 14 percent stake in HPL, had demanded a meeting of HPL’s shareholders to remove four of the company’s five non-executive independent directors and replace them with three GRAM nominees.

HPL argued the highly aggressive move would deliver GRAM control of the firm which was valued at about A$60 million (K146 million), without GRAM having paid anything to the other shareholders of the company that collectively hold 86 percent.

The move also would deliver GRAM essentially full, unassailable control of the giant US$6 billion (K19bn) Frieda River project in West Sepik Province. HPL and GRAM are joint venture partners in the project, with GRAM holding an 80 percent interest and HPL 20 percent.

HPL also holds an 8.56 percent interest in the Ramu Nickel project, as well as a major shareholding in the ‘exciting’ Star Mountains exploration project.

HPL directors had opposed GRAM demands, stating that handing control of the Company to GRAM/PanAust would not be in the interests of its shareholders.

Chairman Ken MacDonald said the GRAM/PanAust proposal effectively amounted to a takeover of Highlands without offering to pay shareholders.

HPL managing director Craig Lennon said the future of Highlands was vitally important for the development of its projects, and could have serious economic implications for PNG.

“We want to see these projects, especially the Frieda River project, develop in a timely fashion, creating potentially enormous economic benefits for PNG by creating jobs, generating revenues for government and earning foreign exchange income,” he said.

“With Highlands remaining as an independent company, we have the best chance of achieving that outcome.”

The special meeting to consider the matter would be held in Port Moresby, and shareholders would vote on the proposals to remove four of the five non-executive independent directors including the chairman.

The two directors who GRAM is not trying to remove for now are the managing director Craig Lennon and Bart Philemon, the highly respected former treasury minister.

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Filed under Exploration, Financial returns, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

New Bougainville vice-president faces BFM criticism over mining policy


New ABG Vice-President Masono being sworn in by Chief Magistrate Bruce Tasikul while Chief Secretary to ABG Joseph Nobetau looks on. Image: Bougainville News

Asia Pacific Report | 26 February 2017

Raymond Masono has been appointed new Vice-President of Bougainville and has immediately faced criticism from the Bougainville Freedom Movement.

Bougainville News reported Masono was from the Carteret Islands and is a first term MP in the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Member for the Atolls Constituency and Minister for Public Service.

Prior to his entry into politics, Masono had a ‘distinguished career’ in the Bougainville Public Service and held several senior positions, including Acting Chief Administrator, Deputy Chief Administrator Policy and Director for Panguna Negotiations.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Atolls people for the President’s confidence in appointing me as his new Vice-President,” Masono said at the swearing in.

“I accept this appointment with great humility, for me personally it is a great honour to serve as the Vice-President of one of the founding fathers of this nation and I want to assure the President and the people of Bougainville of my undivided loyalty and continued support to the President and ABG,” Masono said.

However, the Bougainville Freedom Movement (BFM) put out a statement condemning the appointment as not helping Bougainville’s independence from mining companies. It said:

“The young and easily influenced [former] Vice-President Patrick Nisira made it clear in March 2016  that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) knew that the decision on the future of the mining moratorium on Bougainville was a major concern and ‘that there should be wide public debate on the issues involved’.

‘Don’t have the funds’

“This was reiterated again, as stated by Patrick Nisira in his public leture on 28 April 2016 in Canberra.

“Yet in his next breath, Patrick Nisira advised: “But we don’t have the funds necessary for an extensive public awareness and consultation programme.”

“Now, his replacement, Raymond Masono, Director of the Office of Panguna Negotiations, Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), who originates from the Atolls, gave a lecture at  the University of Queensland’s “Institute for Sustainable Mining” on 16 December 2014.

“Under the influence of the University of Queensland’s “Institute for Sustainable Mining”, Mr Raymond Masono made it quite clear that, “Alternative Benefit Sharing Modality for a Redeveloped Panguna Mine in Bougainville, PNG”.

“Benefits from a redeveloped Panguna mine must contribute to the overall social and economic development of the all Bougainvillians, not just the mine affected landowners.

“This requires the design and implementation of a benefit sharing modality that ensures everyone shares in the nation’s wealth. The Office of Panguna Mine Negotiations has been established to coordinate the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and Panguna mine affected Landowners preparations to negotiate the possible reopening of Panguna Mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

“President Momis, it certainly would be better that you represent your people rather than mining companies don’t you think?, asked the BFM.”

Patrick Nisira will remain as the Member of the Halia constituency until he formally resigns from the Bougainville House of Representatives to contest this year’s general election.

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Row Flares Again Over Namosi Exploration

TNCL chairman Josefa Tauleka with children of Namosi village who were also part of the meeting yesterday. Photo: Lusiana Tuimaisala

TNCL chairman Josefa Tauleka with children of Namosi village who were also part of the meeting yesterday. Photo: Lusiana Tuimaisala

Maika Bolatiki and Lusiana Tuimaisala | Fiji Sun | February 26, 2017

The Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee (TNLC) will seek a meeting with  Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to discuss its concerns about the mineral explorations in Namosi.

At a TNLC meeting at Namosi village yesterday, members unanimously opposed exploration currently carried out by the Namosi Joint Venture (NJV) on environmental grounds.

TNLC chairperson Josefa Tauleka said that they were against exploration since it started in Namosi because they felt it would destroy their natural resources.

He said that no one seemed to listen to them and that was why they wanted to meet with Mr Bainimarama.

“We have a caring Prime Minister and we know he will listen to us,” he said.

“We already had made a presentation to the Prime Minister in 2012  but we really want to meet him again to brief him of the current developments.”

Mr Tauleka said they fully supported the Prime Minister’s green economy policy because it was in line with what TNLC believed.

“We also support him as chair of COP 23.”

NJV is currently exploring minerals in the province and has been granted a licence, SPL 1420 till 2020.

Mr Tauleka claimed mining would be next.

He alleged that according to the company’s Mining Plan there would be two mining pits but from information they had gathered there would be a third pit at Waivaka West. The company, he alleged, had opted for open pit and not underground mining.

The NJV has strongly refuted claims by the TNLC of its plan to have a third pit.

“NJV has no plans for a third pit as suggested by the TNLC, “ Greg Morris the Newcrest Mining Limited Country Manager Fiji said.

He said they had not applied for a mining licence.

The company, he said, had been given an exploration licence only and that was what they were doing.

NJV made a presentation to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mineral Resources chaired by Joeli Cawaki on the progress of their exploration.

Meanwhile, Mr Morris said the company provided a briefing to the Parliamentary Natural Resources Standing Committee on the progress of the NJV Waisoi project Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).

The ESIA is yet to be completed but it will discuss the potential impact and the proposed management measures in accordance with the term of Reference issued by the Department of Environment.

He said the NJV had been continuously meeting with the landowners over the past to update them on the  project and listen to their issues and concern.

See also: Tikina Namosi Landowners respond to NJV mining claims

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Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Fiji

Himata to take up Bougainville mining role


Cedric Patjole | Loop PNG | February 25, 2017

Outgoing Secretary of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management, Shadrach Himata, will be taking up a new role in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Himata told Loop PNG during the Departments Corporate and Strategic Plan Launching that he will be taking up the role of Mining Secretary in ARoB.

He said he will be assisting the autonomous government in developing the mining sector in the island.

Himata hands the reigns over the department to Harry Kore, who has assumed the role of Acting Secretary.

During his farewell speech, Himata said the government could not have appointed a better candidate saying Kore would deliver many of the objectives that are outlined in the recently launched plans.

Himata also congratulated and commended staff of the department for their loyalty and commitment in delivering many objectives which include the review of the Mining Act, the development of six new mining policies and the upgrading of all monitoring equipment and machinery throughout the country under the Geohazards Management Division.


Filed under Papua New Guinea

Poland may start experimental seabed mining in the Pacific


Radio Poland | 24.02.2017

Few Poles actually know that their country has a sort of submarine plot located 500 miles southeast of Hawaii toward Mexico.

It has an area of 75,000 km2, which roughly equates to one quarter of Poland’s surface.

A Polish-based consortium has received permits from the International Seabed Authority to explore the zone. Will the country be able to start tapping into a vast well of underwater resources in the near future? 

“I think [technically] we could be quite optimistic here. Perhaps the deep-sea mining project for polymetallic nodules might be a reality within just a couple of years,” said Tomasz Abramowski Director General of Interoceanmetal.

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Filed under Exploration, Pacific region

Six new mining policies to guide activities

Some very fat men toast a very young dancer

Some very fat men toast ‘sustainability in the mining sector’ without a single clue what that might mean or how, in reality, it could be achieved…

Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | February 24, 2017

Six new mining policies have been developed to guide mining activities for both on-shore and off-shore projects.

This was highlighted yesterday during the launching of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management’s Corporate Plan 2017 – 2022 and Strategic Plan 2017 – 2022 in Port Moresby.

Minister for Mining, Byron Chan, in his keynote address said the policies accompany the recently concluded Mining Act review carried out by the DMPGM to improve the supervision of mining activity in the country.

“The revised Mining Act and the new mining sector policies encourages the application of international best practices to ensure there is sustainability in the mining sector while incorporating local content aspirations of our project affected communities,” he said.

The six new policies include:

  • Mining Policy;
  • Offshore Mining Policy;
  • Mine Rehabilitation and Closure Policy;
  • Sustainable Mining Development Policy;
  • Mining Involuntary Resettlement Policy; and
  • Geothermal Resource Policy.

Chan said despite limited financial resources, DMPGM was able to successfully complete the review exercise.

He said the policies are now before cabinet for endorsement.

Also highlighted was the upgrading of all monitoring equipment and machinery throughout the country under the Geohazards Management Division. Notable projects include:

  • Disaster Early Warning System for PNG
  • Landslide Hazard Mapping for the Okuk Highway
  •  Accreditation of the new EG Laboratory
  • Volcano, Earthquake and Tsunami Hazard and Risk Mapping
  • Establishment of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) International Monitoring System (IMS) station in PNG.

“With these proven track record I’m fully satisfied that the Department will move into the future wit [sic] confidence and determination and continue to serve and uphold the best interest of the state and the people of Papua New Guinea,” said Chan.

Outgoing Secretary, Shadrach Himata, commended staff of DMPGM for their commitment to saying the achievements of the Department were a result of their hard work.

He said despite challenging circumstances, the Department delivered objectives in its former five year plan successfully.

Himata also thanked stakeholders in the mining industry for assisting them in carrying out the legislative reforms as well as improving monitoring equipment and machinery

“I really want to talke [sic] this time to thank everyone for many reasons. And the fundamental reason is you helped us deliver the last chapter of  the (Department) Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management,” he said.

The Corporate and Strategic Plan launching was attended by Chief Secretary, Isaac Lupari, Acting DMPGM Secretary, Harry Kore, stakeholders, and staff of the Department.

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Landholders say more LNG protests are imminent

Delays in royalty payments are frustrating landowners

Delays in royalty payments are frustrating landowners

Jeffrey Elapa | Post Courier | February 23,2017

MORE landowner protests are imminent as the Government continues to neglect them and delay payments that they rightfully deserve.

In addition to the protest plan by the PNG LNG plant site landowners, the upstream landowners also plan to protest and shut down the PNG LNG project after continuous delay by the Government in releasing their funds.

The concern was brought to the Minister for Petroleum and Energy Nixon Duban yesterday but he did not respond.

Hides PDL 7 landowners Umbrella Association chairman Chris Payabe said it is really frustrating for the Government to continue to delay all payments, including the recent payment of K35 million for the Hides landowners.

He said the K35 million is a commitment made to the landowners in order for them to open the gate to the PNG LNG condensation plant and other vital projects by the disgruntled landowners. He said through a MOA signed by the State, MRDC and Kumul Petroleum Holdings with the landowners in Hides, the payment was to be made within two weeks, but since August 18 last year the landowners are still waiting as the Government continues to play its delay tactics.

He said the court order O/S 196 is related to the payment of IDG for 2013 and not related to any other funding and the Government should not mislead the people.

“The plaintiffs to the matter Robert Mai and the respondent the Hela Provincial Government through its legal officer had cleared the payment of the K35m as it does not relate to the IDGs, or any other issues such as the Agore lands issues and payments, therefore we want our payment to be made to us instead of giving excuses.

“We also want ExxonMobil to talk to the State as they are the ones party to the project as their failure would have serious repercussions on the projects as we are ready to stop the project. ExxonMobil should not take a back stage but should negotiate with the state to have our payments settled,” he said.

Mr Payabe said they also want the K6.8 million payments from the Department of Petroleum and Energy while other important commitments are still pending.

“The state should not give us any more excuses but tell us if they are going to pay us or not. If they have money or not so we know the reason for the delay as there is no court matter stopping the payment of the K35 million and the K6.8 million payments,” he said.

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Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea