Monthly Archives: August 2017

KASM, Forest & Bird appeal NZ seabed mining decision

Trans Tasman Resources Limited has been given the green light to to extract 50 million tonnes of material from the seabed off South Taranaki every year for 35 years. Photo / File

NZ Herald | 31 August, 2017

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) has today lodged an appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority’s controversial decision granting consent to ironsands miner Trans Tasman Resources.

The company was this month given the green light to extract 50 million tonnes of material from the seabed off South Taranaki and export five million tonnes of ironsand every year for 35 years.

KASM today announced it would be appealing the decision under 15 points of law, under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012, including “failing to take into account natural justice”, to apply environmental bottom lines, to take a precautionary approach, and to require “adequate information” from TTR.

KASM has called for the High Court to set the decision aside.

“We have gone through the nearly 400-page decision and we think the EPA has erred on a number of points of law, right across its decision,” KASM chairperson Cindy Baxter said.

“KASM is appealing because the EPA made a bad decision, a decision that we believe is wrong in law as well as in principle – and we have seen an overwhelming response against it.”

Forest & Bird today also announced it has lodged an appeal in the High Court.

“The EEZ Act recognises that seabed mining could have significant impacts on the marine environment, and requires protection from such impacts,” the group’s chief executive, Kevin Hague, said.

“We think the EPA’s decision to grant consent fails to protect the environment, and doesn’t meet the requirements of the EEZ Act.”

Ngati Ruanui is also among several groups that have opposed the EPA’s decision.


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New governor signals approval for Frieda river mine

East Sepik’s new governor, Allan Bird, has signalled his approval for the planned Frieda river mine – all he wants is a government assurance ‘everything will be fine’ – SURELY HE IS NOT THAT STUPID?

Possible mining impact on Sepik river a concern

By Dorothy Mark | The National aka The Loggers Times | August 30, 2017

EAST Sepik Governor Allan Bird has warned that the start of the Frieda gold and copper mine on the border with West Sepik will depend on an assurance by the government that the river will not be polluted.

Bird said the people depended on the East Sepik River daily and did not want it polluted by the activities of the Frieda gold and copper mines.

He was responding to the concern raised by Madang provincial mines director John Bivi on the operation of the Wafi gold mine in Morobe, Marengo in Madang and Frieda in East Sepik.

Bivi requested Bird to highlight this problem in parliament if there is debate on the three mines to begin operating quickly.

Bird said he would not comment on Wafi and Marengo but he would see that the people of East Sepik get the maximum benefit from the Frieda mine.

“We don’t  want what happened at OK Tedi to happen to us. So we will be very careful with this one,” Bird said.

Ramu development foundation director Dr Boga Figa asked Bird to assist in any way possible to have a feasibility study carried out to construct a road from  Banu Bridge to Forogo which could link to East Sepik.

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PNGEITI: Reveal contracts, licences for transparency

Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | August 29, 2017

The PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) says access to resource extraction contracts and licences would be valuable to the country for transparency in the industry.

According to the PNGEITI 2014 Report, resource extraction contracts and licences remain confidential information despite interest groups seeking to change for greater transparency.

The report states that details of contracts and licences are protected by confidentiality provisions in Section 163 of the Mining Act, Section 51 of the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) Act and Section 159 of the Oil and Gas Act, which are held and maintained by the Solicitor General’s Office.

And without legislative amendments, agreements can only be made public with the approval of both the company and the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) or the MRA as appropriate.

The report states that no contract had been made publicly available to date. This is an issue which civil society organisations in particular seek to change in the interest of greater transparency.

“Specific clauses clarifying public access to the content of agreements signed by or with the State on resource projects would be valuable. Part 1 of the Mining Act however, provides for Constitutional limitations as the mining legislation is for the purpose of giving effect to the national interest,” states the report.

PNG EITI Head of National Secretariat, Lucas Alkan, said the Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) discussed issues relating to disclosure of resource agreements in recent meetings.

“We feel that mining companies may feel comfortable disclosing agreements, but that oil and gas companies, being more exposed to global market dynamics, may feel that agreement details would reveal their strategy, and would thus be more commercially sensitive,”Alkan said.

“But we are having constructive dialogues with companies on the information that could be disclosed and what may not be disclosed to the public due to commercial bearings to the detriment of a particular company.

“We hope to imbed such information in future EITI reporting as it is required under the EITI standard,” Alkan added.

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NZ Greens propose marine sanctuary to stop seabed mining off South Taranaki 

A large crowd including many students welcomed the Green Party announcement for plans of a new marine sanctuary in South Taranaki. GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein | Stuff NZ | 29 August, 2017

The Green Party wants to stop seabed mining by creating an enormous new marine mammal sanctuary off the Taranaki coast.

Green Party leader James Shaw announced the plan at a Hawera beach when he, MP Gareth Hughes and Te Tai Hauauru candidate Jack McDonald joined a seabed mining protest by more than 200 people on Tuesday.

The South Taranaki Whale Sanctuary would prohibit new prospecting, exploration and mining for minerals, but existing petroleum wells would be allowed to continue to operate until their permits expired.

The controversial Environmental Protection Agency decision allowing Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) to dredge 50 million tonnes of sand a year from the seabed off Patea would be stopped.

Fishing would be allowed to continue in the area, whereas the seabed mining would disrupt fishing activities and was opposed by the commercial operators, Shaw said.

“Seabed mining vacuums up the seabed, filters out minerals and dumps the mud back into the ocean. For the whales it’s like someone dumping the contents of a vacuum cleaner on their plates.”

The South Taranaki Bight is home to 38 different mammals, including blue whales and the highly endangered Maui’s dolphins.

“At around 30,000 square km, or fifty times the size of Lake Taupo,  this will be New Zealand’s largest marine mammal sanctuary.”

The sanctuary would stretch from Foxton north to Hawera, and west to Kahurangi Point near the top of the South Island, covering the area where blue whales were most commonly seen.

The protest, organised by the community of  Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui, began with songs from the youngsters, and ended with a heartfelt haka, then the participants formed a human chain around the grassy reserve above the beach.

Principal Mama Kumeroa said she felt overwhelmed by the number of people, who had answered her call for support.

“There are representatives here from every school, every kindergarten and educational institution in Hawera. These little ones are going to be the caretakers of the future, these young people will grow up and see this seabed mining happening, and it’s going to take three or four generations ahead of us to clean it up. If companies want to do this mining they should do it in their own backyard. This is our backyard.”

Ngati Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi was pleased with the Green Party initiative.

 “We are pleased to see the Greens thinking outside the square. It gives us hope that there’s some better options out there. Hopefully the other parties will be just as innovative.”

Ngati Ruanui is preparing to lodge its appeal against the application later this week.

Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Hauauru Howie Tamati said he supported the idea of a marine sanctuary.

“I’m still upset at the decision of the EPA to let the iron-sand mining go ahead considering all of the evidence that was there to say it would have a huge impact on the sea life in the area.”

Labour candidate for Whanganui Steph Lewis said not enough information had been provided on the effects of  the TTR operation, which could run over 35 years.

“I’m not convinced the jobs it is allegedly going to create will go to people in Patea, there’s not enough evidence to support it and real big concerns about the environmental impact.”

In its application, TTR has said it would be “a sustainable and world leading development” that would have little environmental effect.

But the venture is opposed by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Patea-based iwi Ngati Ruanui, environmental groups Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, and by Talley’s Fisheries which also submitted against the mining when a previous application by TTR was declined by the EPA in 2014.

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Government rolls over for foreign businesses

Plans to protect small local industries, landowners, local agriculture and control the mining industry all to be shelved as government aligns itself with foreign owned businesses

Govt plans to review laws ‘to build investor confidence’

Helen Tarawa | The National aka The Loggers Times | August 29. 2017
The Government will review and amend some laws in the country to build confidence for investment.
This is part of the Government’s 100-day plan to address the economic situation in the country.
Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel said the private sector was very concerned about some of the proposed amendments to the Land Act and the Investment Promotion Authority Act.
Abel said some of the provisions in agriculture that were brought up included the Agriculture Administration Adjustment Act, the Agriculture Investment Act and the Biosecurity Act.
He said in the mining sector some of the proposed amendments to the Mining Act and the Mineral Resources Authority Act would be looked at again.
“We are going to slow down on those ones and we are going to review them. We listen to the business community what is really the issue.
“They are saying very strongly that it is affecting confidence. They are a bit concerned with some of the reserved activities in small to medium enterprise (SME).
“We need to be understanding and listen and say we want to support SMEs but maybe this is going too far and killing off investment.
“We are committed to listen to our business community and review some of the specific issues that are being raised affecting confidence and investment.”
In the meantime, Abel announced that the National Energy Authority Bill would be tabled in Parliament.

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Kainantu mine equipment destroyed by landowners

Govt To Investigate K92 Mine Stand-Off

Michael Koma | Post Courier | August 28, 2017

The government is to launch an investigation into the standoff that eventually resulted in the destruction of properties at the K92 mine site in Balimoia, Eastern Highlands, in a bid to resolve issues raised amicably.

Disgruntled landowners went on a rampage last Thursday burning two trucks, a grader and standby generator, according to police.

Several gas cylinders and fuel drums were also destroyed allegedly by landowners from Balimoia One, Two and Three villages.

Police said the landowners, mostly youth, closed in entrance to the underground mine in the early hours of Thursday and took the law into their own hand.

A workshop at the entrance of the mine was also destroyed.

Police said the K92 Mining is still in the process of assessing the damages to determine the cost of the destruction.

During the rampage the only road that links the developer’s gold processing plant at Kumian to the mine site on the foot of Mt Kora was blocked with tress by the irate landowners.

Mining minister Johnson Tuke told the Post Courier that the destruction has already taken place and it’s now time for the concerned parties to come together to address the core issues that triggered the violent encounter.

Mr Tuke said:

“Extractive industries contributed immensely towards the national economy: the state must not be denied revenue in the face of such destruction.

“One the other hand the landowners must not be denied spin benefits, especially royalty payments.

“Its equally important that the developer must continue operation to contribute eloquently towards the country’s wealth and create employment opportunities.

“In every such situation there is always a reason.

“I will call the Mineral Resource Authority, the K92 mine management, Balimoia Interim Landowners Association and the Eastern Highlands Provincial Government to a roundtable discussion to find a way out of this chaotic situation.

“We cannot solve a problem with violence.”

Mr Tuke arranged for an audience with the landowners yesterday but they put him on notice which he termed as “uncalled for.”

In light of Thursday’s incident, Mr Tuke had flown to Balimoia yesterday (today) and told the landowners to control their temper as he would be negotiating for an amicable solution.

“As a local MP (Kainantu) I am aware of the situation and I am well-placed to discuss the subject,” he said.

The minister said the Balimoia gold deposits was initially developed by Kainantu Highlands Ltd and transferred to Barrick Gold before K92 Mining took over.

“Some of these issues arises during the two previous developers’ term and continued to exist until today.”

The landowners were pressing for off-spin benefits in terms of royalty payments, contracts and employment opportunities, which they claimed were not properly accorded to them.

The minister said the memorandum of agreement needs review.

K92 Mining Limited says claims about it not honouring commitments (engaging landowners in its operations) were unfounded.

K92 Mining’s management said it has built a formidable workforce of 500 with contractors on site including 300 employees alone from Balimoia and associated landowners.

The developer added that the Balimoia Interim Landowners Association (BILA) has yet to determine whether it will use its business arm, Balimoia Development Corporation (BILDECO) or a new business entity to participate in business opportunities created by the developer and its suppliers.

Meanwhile, police reinforcements from Ramu, Lae, Kainantu and Goroka were deployed into the area to protest the properties and equipment.

The Balimoia area, in which the gold-rich Mt Kora stands, is sandwiched between Kainantu town in Eastern Highlands and Ramu Valley in Morobe Province.

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Reopening Panguna is dividing families and communities

Mine Pit looking greener – let it be green

Clive Porabou | Mekamui News | 28 August 2017

The Panguna mine issue is the hottest and very sensitive issue on the ground today. It is dividing communities and families up. BCL is so crazy to reopen it using every possible avenue it can to get people on their side. In the meantime ABG is desperate to have money to run the Government of the day in Bougainville and also pushing for the reopening.

The former BRA ranks and files are also divided, last week another MOU was not signed when the Bougainville Hardliners say no to reopening but yes to keep it closed.

Strong woman against mining says no to mining

Last week I was in Arawa and late Francis Ona’s brother came to me and told me that his sister Joanne whom I have been campaigning with against re-opening the mine is on the side of reopening the mine. He told me they must have given her money to change her mind. He says our family is now dividend. Later he and his elder sister came to me and gave me her mobile number.

Joanne on the left now becomes pro mining before when we campaign against mining

They told me to try and talk with her so that she can change her mind. I didn’t call her for a reason if they gave her money she might say to me we campaign with no money now I have money so if I join you on no mining will you give me money. Hope she will change her mind and save the last Guava Mountain to plant sweet taro for tamatama.

Some mothers who are against reopening the mine

A young woman, I interviewed her at the mine site, told me that they don’t want the mine reopen it will be so much pain and suffering more then the last time. I asked her the alluvial gold panning is also causing some kind of danger. She told me it is small and the people are getting more money from it then what the company can give them. She told the ABG Government can come in to help the gold diggers set up some kind of melt and essay laboratory so that the Gold diggers will not us dangerous chemicals etc etc


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People’s rights extensively violated in EITI countries

CIVICUS |11 August, 2017

People’s rights to organise, speak out and take action are being extensively violated in a large number of member countries of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The CIVICUS Monitor, a new online tool to track and compare civic freedoms on a global scale, shows that the space for civil society – civic space – is currently seriously restricted in 38 of 51 EITI countries, as of May 2017. 

Civil society organisations (CS0s) and human rights defenders in most EITI member countries face serious obstacles, including threats to their personal safety, denial of the right to protest, surveillance and censorship, as a direct result of their nonviolent activism. The fact that civil society’s fundamental rights are seriously violated in so many EITI countries is alarming, given that the EITI seeks to promote “accountability by government to all citizens” and explicitly recognises the “important and relevant contributions” of non-governmental organisations.  The level of restrictions revealed by this report presents a direct challenge to the viability of the EITI and raises serious questions about member states that are routinely failing to protect CSOs and in many cases treating them as adversaries.

The EITI should recognise the threat the violations documented in this report offer to its credibility and viability as an international multi-stakeholder initiative. It should respond by taking increased steps to ensure that the protection of CSOs and activists becomes a priority in all its member countries.

CIVICUS recommends that EITI:

  • Enhances its requirements for multi-stakeholder engagement in a way that contributes to the creation of a more robust civic space. In doing so, EITI should ensure that CSOs enjoy the “full, free, active and effective engagement” they are meant to have within country-level multi-stakeholder groups;
  • Ensures that all member governments engage fully and meaningfully with CSOs and implement the recommendations made in the review of multi-stakeholder groups carried out by MSI Integrity in 2015;
  • Applies existing requirements more strictly and consistently to make sure that conditions for meaningful civil society participation are met in member countries;
  • Promotes an early validation process against the EITI Standard – the requirements that apply to all EITI member countries – for all those countries in which civic space is seriously restricted;
  • Prescribes corrective actions to governments of countries where there are serious civic space restrictions and closely monitors their progress in implementing recommendations; and
  • Credibly applies or threatens to apply sanctions, including suspension, towards countries failing to make discernible progress in upholding fundamental civil society rights

Read the report: CIVICUS Monitor Findings EITI Countries

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Five voice fears on seabed mining to conservation board in NZ

Tanea Tangaroa and Rae Ranginui speak at the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board public forum. Photo/ Laurel Stowell

“In reality the biggest pests are the humans. We are the only ones that will destroy our own habitat.”

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | 27 August, 2017

It was strongly urged to appeal against seabed mining happening in South Taranaki waters.A passionate young person and four equally heartfelt others poured out complaints to the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board on Thursday.

The group of five spoke at the public forum part of the board’s meeting in Whanganui. They wanted the board to appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority’s decision to allow the mining.

Board members received independent legal advice on a possible appeal during the day, and also met with representatives of the Office of Treaty Settlements.

The five had a list of complaints against the Conservation Department (DOC). Tanea Tangaroa was devastated DOC hadn’t objected to the mining application.

And she said a 1080 aerial poison drop in the Ruapehu District this week had traumatised people and led to an alternative water source being offered to Ohura residents.

She asked whether a law change allowing mining on conservation land could affect land here, and said the legal assistance available for people objecting to developments has been reduced.

“For us, it’s hard enough as it is.”

When DOC didn’t make a submission on the seabed mining application, Rae Ranginui lost respect for its integrity

“I believe they are here to serve corporates,” she said.

Te Huatahi Hawira “spilled out her heart” in a long speech that included the mining issue, 1080 and another possum poison, myrtle rust, kauri dieback and Whanganui’s port development.

She said her ancestors’ ashes were in the port area and she couldn’t even go there.

“In reality the biggest pests are the humans. We are the only ones that will destroy our own habitat.”

Board chairman Te Tiwha Puketapu noted their complaints. The board’s role was to promote conservation and give “thoughtful advocacy”, he said.

It hadn’t decided whether to oppose the seabed mining consent.

DOC operations director for this region, David Speirs, said the department did not have a fixed position on seabed mining and looked at each case on its merits.

In the case of Trans-Tasman Resources, which wants to mine in South Taranaki waters, it decided to oppose the company’s first application. Its second application had some changes.

“The department decided that, to the extent it had legal mandate, it couldn’t make any gains by making a submission. It left the matter to the EPA to consider,” Mr Speirs said.

He had never met with anyone from the company.

DOC had personally apologised to the board, Nga Rauru and Ngati Ruanui for not letting them know it would not make a submission. It had talked with each about how to do things better.

“We don’t like not doing our job,” Mr Speirs said.

On 1080, a DOC spokesman said that toxin was the most researched in New Zealand for more than 40 years. It had saved kakapo and other birds from extinction.

“If we had something better, we would use it. But we do not.”

Mr Puketapu said it was clear that views on 1080 were polarised.

“We are not trying to convince each other that the other one is right. We just have to make sure we are being heard.”

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Wars of words over Panguna as Bougainville moves to new era

Leonard Fong Roka | PNG Attitude | 26 August 2017

With Bougainville less than a year away from a referendum on its political future, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and a local Panguna group known as the Meekamui Government of Unity are in a war of words over the re-opening of the Panguna copper and gold mine.

The ABG wants the now reformed Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to operate the mine which it believes will finance the redevelopment of Bougainville.

But the Meekamui and the Osikaiyang Landowners Association are keen to see the mine opened by an Australian company they have aligned with called RTG.

Bougainville’s president John Momis has said the ABG will not allow a company with no track record to mine at Panguna.

The quarrel between the ABG and the Meekamui is potentially divisive and may affect peace-building efforts in the autonomous province.

BCL, through the Panguna Negotiation Office, is said to be funding a group calling itself Panguna New Generation Leaders which is aggressively pushing for the re-opening of the mine.

The Meekamui and its overseas backers are taking a more moderate stance but are determined to get RTG to develop the mine.

After a 10-year civil war, the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001 addressed the political problem but did not provide a settlement to cater for the Panguna problem which is still shimmering around us.

Meanwhile the 1980s vintage old landowners associations and the new landowners association are also still verbally brawling and attacking each other.

As this struggle goes on, we, the innocent people of Panguna, are being blamed by other Bougainvilleans of working to re-open Panguna.

On the BCL side we see no change of heart for the interests of the people of Bougainville who have suffered because of them and the PNG state.

Rio Tinto offloaded its shares to PNG and Bougainville so that we could see that it was changing its mind on the future of Panguna. But can we be sure? We need to watch to see if various personalities move to and fro between positions in BCL and Rio Tinto.

Let us hope we are not submerging into the violence of the 1990s even as we try to work through the peace agreement and move to the new dawn that next year’s referendum should represent.


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