Monthly Archives: January 2018

Fiji Landowners Support Move To Conserve Forest, River

Usiana Tuimaisala | Fiji Sun | 29 January 2018

Nature Fiji and Rivers Fiji are leading the way in raising awareness on the impor­tance of protecting and conserving our forest on the Upper Navua Con­servation Area (UNCA).

Rivers Fiji is the only white-water rafting company in Fiji that takes tourists on excursions through the Upper Navua River.

Operations manager, Basilio Cakaunivalu said Rivers Fiji has made an agreement between the Se­rua landowners of nine clans from the two villages of Nabukelevu and Wainadiro and TLTB for no logging, mining and extracting gravel for the 16 kilometres river stretch that its protects.

Nature Fiji director Nunia Moko said “the UNCA is one of the wet­land sites that contains one of the largest remaining protected stand of the endemic and threatened sago palm.

“One of the reasons we work with Rivers Fiji is because we believe the fact that the UNCA is a unique place that needs to be conserved.”

She said they believed the future conservation of the area lies in the hands of the landowners.

“In order to sustain this conserva­tion programme, we had designed with Rivers Fiji through the oppor­tunity of the Ramsar small grant fund and awareness campaign that will target the landowners.”

Dilisi Lewanivaturu, 50, of the Cawanisa clan said a lot of logging was going on in the area, and the clan thanks Rivers Fiji for the idea on the protection of the river’s corri­dor which is 200 meters on each side.

“We have a beautiful place and we don’t want it to be destroyed.”

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No Road to Damascus Conversion for President Momis

President Momis is still pressing ahead with Panguna reopening despite turning his back on BCL

As predicted, the Momis government has not had a Road to Damascus conversion, where they promise to honour the wishes and customs of landowning communities. All banks should be scrutinising very closely the accounts of senior ABG officials, and their relatives, for large unexplained deposits which may help explain BCL’s abrupt eviction – it might also be the quickest route to finding out who the ‘new’ proposed operator is for Panguna, who has the consent of ‘all’ the landowning community. Of course, whoever it is, they will be a low flying organisation, with offshore bank accounts and companies. 

So here is how its going to work. BCL is now kicked out. The politicians have shown they listen to the voice of the people (yeah right). A new operator will be announced. There will be a ‘groundswell’ of local support for this operators (lies, of course). The usual local faces will be put forwards as the voice of the people – Mirorio, Daveona, etc. They aren’t. No other voices will be allowed to be heard. There will need to be a big financial backer. Because of the conflict, and the fact the ABG has suddenly cut and run from BCL, after promising them the world since 2010, it will only come from high-risk investors. Probably China. Whatever agreement is reached, percentages will be paid to politicians, and subcontracts promised to their family and friends. If the Chinese are the funders, expect a large influx of Chinese labour, and tax breaks galore.

But there will be resistance. Big time. The struggle continues.

Meet To Re-Open Panguna Mine Successfully

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | January 28, 2018

A recent meeting between the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) Philip Miriori and the President of ABG Dr John Momis in Buka in January was described as a success.
It was jointly agreed that the technical team of the SMLOLA would re-engage with the ABG Mining Department to develop a plan.
Mr Miriori said following the recent rejection of Bougainville Copper Limited’s plans to redevelop Panguna by the Bougainville Executive Council, and president Momis’s press release of December 22, 2017 that he wants to work more closely with the landowners to find an acceptable redevelopment proposal for Panguna that will be widely supported by Bougainvilleans and unite the landowners. “We were very appreciative of President Momis’s offer to meet to start this process,” Miriori said.
Mining Minister and vice president of Bougainville, Raymond Masono was also present at the meeting along with Finance Minister Robin Wilson and ABG Police Minister William Masiu.
Mr Miriori said they had a successful meeting with President Momis and ‘‘the other ministers and I confirm it is my intention as the chairman of the SMLOLA to engage meaningfully with the ABG and National Government in finding a way forward for the future prosperity of all Bougainvilleans.’’
‘‘Mr Momis was very respectful of my position and was appreciative of the reconciliation we have been able to achieve on the leadership issues.
He said we all understand that the redevelopment of Panguna, if done with the support of the community, could enable Bougainville to thrive and enhance the Independence Referendum plans, which the ABG committed to in the recent joint supervisory body meeting in Port Moresby.
Mr Miriori said this week he and his brother Lawrence Daveona, the former Chairman will commence their awareness campaign throughout the Panguna area to update their members on their meeting with President and will report back to Momis before the end of the month with their findings.
He said meanwhile, their technical team will be meeting with the ABG Department of Minerals and Energy this week.
“We believe this could be the turning point for our Bougainville and look forward to working with the ABG as one team to progress the redevelopment plans at Panguna,” said Miriori.

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Human Rights Advocates Unite for Porgera Women

Ramcy Wama | Post Courier | January 26, 2018

Four human rights groups have complied with Canadian gold miner Barrick Gold’s request to unite to seek redress for atrocities committed against women in the past 20 years at Porgera gold mine in Enga Province.

Akali Tanga Association, Human Rights Inter Pacific Association, Porgera Red Wara Women Association and 118 Indigenous Women Association announced their unity in Porgera last Friday

The four had been separately fighting against the negative human rights impacts caused by the Porgera Gold Mine since the mine started its operation in 1989.

They claim to represent victims who were allegedly poisoned from the chemical waste, women and girls who were raped and sexually assaulted by mine workers and related social problems affecting the landowners as a result of the mining operation.

The Barrick Gold Corporation, the joint owner company of Barrick Niuguini Limited (BNL) that currently operates Porgera Gold Mine, asked for the four advocates to unite and claim for the remedy for the victims because of duplicity in separate claims.

Barrick Gold chief sustainable officer Peter Sinclair, in an email on October 29, 2016, had asked the advocates, Akali Tanga Association and Human Rights Inter Pacific to make one claim for all the victims for the company to evaluate and approve.

“Given the serious nature of these allegations, and the volume and nature of the claims presented, significant time will be required to complete an evaluation of each claim, which may include consultations with external stakeholders.

“Be assured that we will use our influence as an equal shareholder of BNL to emphasise the critical importance of BNL management adhering to its own human rights policy, including a commitment to investigate and respond to allegations of negative human rights impacts that BNL may have caused or contributed to in a fair and effective manner,” Mr Sinclair said.

Human Rights Inter Pacific chairman Karath Mal Mawa said yesterday that the human rights groups had agreed to make a united submission on abuses at the mine.

“We have fixed each claim of the individuals and are ready to launch for remedy payment,” Mr Mawa said.

Some of the victims presented about 30 pigs in appreciating the four human rights uniting to press for redress.

In April 2015 Barrick Gold settled 11 claims of atrocities committed against women at Porgera.

The settlement in Canada was reached with EarthRights International, a non-governmental organisation, that was representing the women, bringing to a close all of the outstanding claims made by women, who were allegedly beaten, raped, and threatened by the miner’s security personnel and employees.

Some incidents dated back to even before Barrick bought the mine via its takeover of Placer Dome in 2006.

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January 26, 2018 · 12:43 pm

New Irelanders satisfied with seabed mining campaign

Nautilus the Protector – Solwara Em Laif

Loop PNG | January 25, 2018

Landowners from New Ireland Province are pleased with the result of the campaign against experimental seabed mining.

They noted the overwhelming support from the national, regional and international organisations, including from prominent leaders.

Following the recent resignation of Nautilus chairman Russel Debney and Nautilus vice president PNG Adam Wright, Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors said:

“We are pleased with the recent turn of events and would like to acknowledge the support given by the European Union Parliament, United Nations and reputable leaders who have come out publicly and called to ban experimental seabed mining.”

Mesulam also acknowledges the support by prominent leaders such as Sir Arnold Amet, Cardinal Sir John Ribat and international naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who have come out strongly against experimental seabed mining.

Whilst acknowledging the support by different organisations at their levels, Mesulam challenges the three local MPs; Sir Julius Chan (Governor), Ian Ling-Stuckey (Kavieng Open) and Walter Schnaubelt (Namatanai), to come out publicly and make their stance clear.

He further said the locals will continue to advocate on experimental seabed mining and will make sure “Nautilus leaves our shores”. 

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Sea Bed Mining is an invasion of indigenous livelihoods

Image: Alliance of Solwara Warriors

 Caritas PNG | ACT NOW! | 24 January 2018

Deep sea bed mining is the extraction of metals such as iron, manganese, copper, zinc, lead nickel, cadmium, silver, platinum gold and rare earths from the sea floor.

The Parliament decision for granting license to Nautilus (Under Sea Bed Mining) in Papua New Guinea waters is a disgraceful act of genocide on all levels of life in PNG history.

According to Caritas Co-ordinator, Chairman of the Indigenous priest association, Kokopo, Fr Mathias Lopa, the awarding license to Nautilus Sea Bed Mining is a preferential choice for more money over the indigenous livelihood.

He said that in a diagnostic view, we should say that, it is political preferential choice for ecological destruction of natural environment and sustainability of livelihood.

He stated that it is a shame for the authorities not listening to the people’s voice and no considerable attention given to the result of the independent scientific research study on the fragility and venerability of life under the sea. The scientific study proves the imminent destructive impact on human life and the natural coexistence as an eventual consequence of such an economic venture.

He said that should there be any rational thinking Papua New Guinean could explain to all citizens of this nation, why Papua New Guinea has many major mining operations by foreign investors as well as reaping of the virgin forest and grabbing land to make millions of kina as revenue over night and yet our rural population still lack basic services.

Fr Lopa added that concurrently signing of agreement between Papua New Guinea (NEC) and Nautilus, Sea Bed mining company is ethically questionable.

He said that the people of the NGI region considered the parliamentary decision on sea bed mining as pre mature, short-sighted and imprudent decision.

He stated that it is a common knowledge that PNG as a nation has no skill and knowledge on how to restore and rebuild the lives of the sea living organism when imposing of an unimaginable and pre-mediative act of crime against nature by an affluent nation.

He said that the short sighted and non-evaluative decision by Parliamentary Bureaucracy is an outcome of being blind folded by foreign economic creed.

He also said that using the robot to destabilize the eco-system of life under the sea that sustains life on the land is a scary scenario.

He said that such an invasion on non-renewable resources is an act of economic terrorism against the basic foundation of life under, within and above the sea.

Therefore, our life is at the mercy of the capitalist economic imperialism.

Fr Lopa stated that the arrogant of authorities for not listening to the people’s plea is a sign of psychological fear of offending the international relationship based on agreement.

He said that as thinking citizens, we need to rationally speculate and conceptualize the possible terrifying scenario if revoking of international agreement that would cost our nation a significantly amount of penalty payment.

He also said that the ethical question that ought not to be avoided is, what is important, the agreement with the company or the future generation and their natural resources.

He questioned as to why harvest all non-renewable resources with no due consideration of the future generation. Consuming all resource for the future generation to pay the debt of the present incurring nation’s economic debt is morally unacceptable.

Fr Lopa urged all fellow citizens that we have a social obligation and constitutional responsibility to speak up as openly guaranty by our constitution to air your views on this matter.

He said that the citizens of New Guinea Islands region are concern about our lives and the lives of our children and their children. Of course we need money and we do have various means of making money.

He questioned as to why resort to sea bed mining at this time. The politicians of the New Guinea islands have the political obligation and ethical responsibility to protect the lives of their voters and make our islands a safer place to live and enjoy life.

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Ramu NiCo shuts down equipment for serious maintenance work

Poor workmanship and shoody construction has hampered the Ramu nickel mine

The National aka The Loggers Times | January 23, 2018

Maintenance work on high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL) of train one at Ramu Nico’s Basamuk Refinery is going on. Work started on Jan 11 and is scheduled to end on Friday.

Ramu Nico company said the maintenance shutdown was to thoroughly maintain the system, eliminate potential system deficits and test the integrity of the equipment within HPAL.

More than 500 workers, both Chinese and PNG national employees of Ramu NiCo and external vendors, are involved in shutdown maintenance activities.

Safety officers from Ramu NiCo’s health safety and environment department are monitoring the maintenance work.

The maintenance shutdown would enable stable and prolonged production output for next year.

This is now consistent for Ramu NiCo autoclaves, enabling proactive forecasting of production rates and effective planning of major equipment turnarounds.

Ramu NiCo Basamuk HPAL process has three trains which are a vital component of the nickel/cobalt project in Madang.
The three HPAL circuits are key components to the safe production at Basamuk.

Shutdown maintenance is carried out periodically with each high-pressure acid leaching circuit enjoying a 15-day annual overall, staggered throughout the year.

The planned overhaul focused on autoclave scale removal, including integrity checks of equipment and statutory requirements in relation to pressure vessels and valves.

The maintenance and repair of each auxiliary system is carried out according to planned schedules, including acid-producing plants and boilers.

The Basamuk high-pressure acid leaching processing department applies operational principles of compliance in safety and operation at high efficiency, including undertaking of stable and proper maintenance at Basamuk processing site.

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Why redevelop Panguna’s mine now? It can be banked

Paul Flanagan | PNG Attitude | 12 January 2018

Are we sure, as Axel Sturm asserts in PNG Attitude, that “one thing is for sure: Without revenues from the Panguna mine under the leadership of BCL that is owned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the independence of  the island will remain a sweet dream.”

Separate to the BCL versus RTG issue there is a more fundamental assumption. Why is a mine essential for independence?

Bougainville’s agricultural prospects are reasonably strong. It has some of the best agriculture land in Papua New Guinea.

Its cocoa and copra plantations were extremely productive prior to ‘the troubles’. Tourist potential would appear significant if law and order issues are contained. Its waters would link into fishing revenues under the Nauru Agreement.

Bougainville’s estimated population of around 300,000 is larger than many other Pacific island nations – about half Solomon Islands, slightly larger than Vanuatu, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and significantly larger than Samoa.

These countries get by with a form of independence without a mine.

Experience also is that mining can lead to ‘resource curse’ issues that may manifest greatly in Bougainville as Panguna could represent a major share of measured GDP.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a mine, just asking why it is “essential”?

This is an assumption that needs to be examined closely. Using the figures quoted by Mr Sturm, even if 320 of 367 customary heads are in favour of a particular course of development, that still leaves 47 with issues. And the issues may not come only from the customary heads.

The Panguna mine riches are not going to disappear. Is it better that they are left in the ground for another generation until there is an absolutely unambiguous consensus that they should be developed?

This would simply be banking the resource at this stage.

And it may allow the people of Bougainville to consider more inclusive forms of development and governance as it considers the June 2019 referendum on its political future.

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Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

Relatively little is known about deep-sea ecosystems

University of Exeter | PHYS.ORG | January 22, 2018

Mining on the ocean floor could do irreversible damage to deep-sea ecosystems, says a new study of seabed mining proposals around the world.

The deep sea (depths below 200m) covers about half of the Earth’s surface and is home to a vast range of species.

Little is known about these environments, and researchers from the University of Exeter and Greenpeace say mining could have “long-lasting and unforeseen consequences”– not just at mining sites but also across much larger areas.

The study is the first to give a global overview of all current plans to mine the seabed, in both national and international waters, and looks at the potential impacts including physical destruction of seabed habitats, creation of large underwater plumes of sediment and the effects of chemical, noise and light pollution arising from mining operations.

“Our knowledge of these ecosystems is still limited, but we know they’re very sensitive,” said Dr. David Santillo, a marine biologist and senior Greenpeace scientist based at the University of Exeter.

“Recovery from man-made disturbance could take decades, centuries or even millennia, if these ecosystems recover at all.”

“As we learn more about deep sea ecosystems and the role of oceans in mitigating climate change, it seems wise to take precautions to avoid damage that could have long-lasting and unforeseen consequences.”

Despite the term “mining”, much seabed mining would involve extraction of minerals over very wide areas of the sea floor rather than digging down to any great depth, potentially leaving a vast ‘footprint’ on the deep-sea habitats in which these mineral deposits occur.

Rising demand for minerals and metals, including for use in new technology, has sparked renewed interest in seabed mining.

Some operations are already taking place, generally at relatively shallow depths near national coastlines.

The first commercial enterprise in deeper waters, expected to target mineral-rich sulphides at depths of 1.5-2km off Papua New Guinea, is scheduled to begin early in 2019.

Speaking about these plans last year, Sir David Attenborough said it was “tragic that humanity should just plough on with no regard for the consequences”.

The Exeter and Greenpeace research team say there are “many questions and uncertainties” around seabed mining, including legal issues and the difficulties of predicting the scale and extent of impacts in advance, and of monitoring and regulating mining activity once it takes place in the deep sea.

The paper says that alternatives to seabed mining have already been proposed, including substituting metals in short supply for more abundant minerals with similar properties, as well as more effective collection and recycling of components from disused products and wastes.

However, Dr. Santillo said demand for seabed mining would also diminish if humanity could cut overproduction and overconsumption of consumer goods.

“Rather than using human ingenuity to invent more and more consumer products that we don’t actually need, we could deploy it instead to build goods that last longer, are easier to repair and make better use of the limited natural resources we have,” he said.

“With the right approaches, we can avoid the need for seabed mining altogether and stop the ‘race to the bottom’.

“As governments prepare to set the rules and the first companies gear up to mine, now is the time to ask whether we just have to accept seabed mining, or should instead decide that the potential damage is just so great that we really need to find less destructive alternatives.”

The paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, is titled “An overview of seabed mining including the current state of development, environmental impacts, and knowledge gaps.” It is an open-access publication accessible to readers anywhere in the world.

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Nautilus in crisis as another exec resigns

Adam Wright is jumping off the sinking Nautilus

Wright resigns from Nautilus

Cedric Patjole | Loop PNG | January 18, 2018

Nautilus Minerals vice president of PNG Operations, Adam Wright, has resigned. The Company announced last night that Wright’s resignation is effective as February 26th 2018.

CEO Mike Johnston said Wright played a significant role over the last three and a half years in the areas of project management, stakeholder and government engagement and corporate social responsibility.

“We would like to thank him for the valuable contributions he has made to Nautilus’ progress to date and wish him well in his future endeavours,” said Johnston.

Wright’s resignation comes at a time when the company is struggling to secure financing to fund its capital working requirements and the completion of its sea floor production system for the Solwara 1 project in PNG waters.

Wright’s resignation from Nautilus is the second to be announced in the last three weeks.

On December 27, 2017, Russel Debney resigned as chairman after a long stint with the company where he joined the Nautilus board in 2006.

The recent events surrounding the company have further raised domestic and international pressure by concerned groups and individuals, calling for the project to be stopped.

Former attorney-general, minister for justice and Madang governor, Sir Arnold Amet, has called on the government to terminate its partnership with Nautilus given the recent events.

The PNG Government owns a 15 percent stake in the Solwara 1 Project.

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New watchdog to investigate Canadian companies for human rights abuses

Hilary Beaumont | Vice News | January 18, 2018

The Canadian government is creating a new watchdog to investigate human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating overseas, fulfilling a Liberal campaign promise.

Canadian companies have long faced accusations of human rights abuses abroad, including gang rapes by security guards at a mine in Papua New Guinea operated by Toronto-based Barrick Gold, and the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 workers who were making clothes for Joe Fresh, a brand owned by Canadian company Loblaws.

Canadian companies employ workers in developing countries to make clothing and mine materials that end up in electronics, but these mines and factories are often subject to lax regulations. When human rights abuses arise, there can be little recourse for complainants due to police corruption and weak justice systems on the ground, and lack of access to remedies through Canada’s courts.

‘RIGHT THING TO DO’

The new ombudsperson’s office will independently investigate abuse allegations against businesses operating overseas, including in the mining, textile and oil and gas sectors. The ombudsperson will have the power to request documents from companies and the power to gather testimony from witnesses. Canada’s trade minister François-Philippe Champagne said the ombudsperson will have “all the tools and resources to ensure compliance.” The watchdog’s recommendations will be made public, and the ombudsperson’s office will have the ability to withdraw government funding from companies.

There will also be a multi-stakeholder body to advise the ombudsperson and the government. That advisory body will include representatives from the mining, oil and gas and apparel sectors, as well as human rights and labour advocacy organizations, and an Indigenous representative.

“I’m adamant that Canada is to be second to none when it comes to business and human rights,” Canada’s trade minister François-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday. “This is not just the right thing to do, but that’s what Canadians expect from us.”

Advocacy organizations have waited more than a decade for this announcement, calling it “long overdue.” But critics are pointing out that the ombudsperson’s mandate will not include investigating environmental violations, which are often wound up in human rights abuses.

ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS

Liberal MP John McKay, who has pushed for mining industry oversight for years, stood next to the minister as he made the announcement. McKay’s private members bill to create a similar ombudsperson’s office was killed in 2010. It was only six votes short of passing.

Similar to the new ombudsperson’s office announced Wednesday, McKay’s bill called for the ability to withdraw government support and funding to companies found to be breaching human rights.

“The only significant difference is that they’re not going to do environmental investigations,” McKay told VICE News of the new ombudsperson. “Not quite sure why they arrived at that decision, but there’s a lot of interaction between environmental rights and human rights.”

Everlyn Guape, who was brutally sexually assaulted by security guards near the Barrick Gold mine in Porgera, Papua New Guinea, told VICE News she wanted to thank everyone who fought for the creation of the ombudsperson’s office.

Locals near the mine have also accused the company of contaminating their river. Guape added that “humanity depends on the environment,” so environmental abuses should also be investigated.

“This coexistence cannot be deliberately ignored by Canadian corporations and the government of Canada,” she warned.

‘INDEPENDENT AND EFFECTIVE’

Reacting to the government’s announcement, Barrick Gold said it supports the “additional accountability mechanism for Canadian businesses operating overseas, focused on dialogue and conflict resolution.”

“We look forward to engaging with the ombudsperson in a transparent and constructive manner, to assure Canadians that mining activities continue to generate economic and social benefits for host communities and governments, while respecting human rights.”

Advocacy organization Mining Watch Canada has been pushing for an effective ombudsperson since 2005, Catherine Coumans, the group’s research coordinator, said in a statement.

“We will continue to press the government to ensure that the ombuds office is independent and effective, and has adequate resources to do its job.”

Coumans added that additional measures still need to be taken, including allowing complainants access to Canadian courts to sue Canadian companies for rights violations overseas, and allowing communities free, prior and informed consent before new resource projects go ahead.

In a Canadian Network on Corporate Responsibility survey before the 2015 election, the Liberals stated they would “set up an independent ombudsman office to advise Canadian companies, consider complaints made against them, and investigate those complaints where it is deemed warranted.”

The Liberals also committed to act on the recommendations of a 2007 National Roundtable on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries.

But they have not committed to making Canada’s courts open to legal action from complainants in other countries.

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