Monthly Archives: February 2018

Government nets next to nothing from Tolukuma mine sale

The government sold the Tolukuma gold mine to a Singapore company, Asidokona, in 2015, for a reported price of K81.35 million. However, Mine Watch can reveal, the government has only ever received K700,000.

Despite Petromin’s claims Asidokona would invest heavily in the mine infrastructure, a new road and restart production, the whole deal looked dodgy from the very start.

Then Mining Minister, Byron Chan, described Asidokona as “reputable, committed” but  Asidokona is not a mining company, it is a front for Singaporean speculator, Philip Soh Sai Kiang     .

In 2016 Mine Watch revealed that Asidokona was trying to offload the mine for US$ 212 million to a Singapore nightclub company, LifeBrandz. That deal fell through.

All the while the government has been trying to convince landowners that mining will soon recommence and they will benefit handsomely from a new royalties deal as well as the 10% shareholding agreed as part of the 2015 sale.

This was tantamount to bare faced lying by the government, as officials must have known all along that Asidokona had no intention of restarting mining and, indeed, has only ever paid a tiny proportion of the sale price.

According to an audited financial report for Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited, the successor to Petromin, the sale of Tolukuma was completed on 30 November 2015, not for the reported price of K81.35 million, but K26 million.

Even worse, only K700,000 has ever been received and the balance of K25.3 million is still outstanding.

Apparently the buyer, Asidokona, was due to pay a further K16 million on before 31 December, 2016, but never paid. A further K2 million was to be settled by 31 December 2017 and K1.4 million by 31 December 2018.

According to the directors of Kumul Minerals “recovery of the outstanding sales proceeds is considered doubtful” and the debt has been written off.

To cap the sorry saga, Tolukuma Gold Mines has now been liquidated for non payment of its debts.

The Tolukuma landowners have every right to feel they have been betrayed and deceived by government authorities.

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Nautilus Minerals working with ghosts

Nautilus Minerals has been going through a rough time recently, so rough the company is now claiming to be working in partnership with a ghost, a company that no longer exists.

Nautilus Minerals wants to be the first to mine the seabed, but has been on financial life support since last year, unable to raise the $300 million it needs to complete its preparations for mining. In the meantime it is being kept alive only by a series of short-term loans from its major shareholders.

To make matters worse, in November last year, the company supposed to be supplying the mining support vessel, the key piece of infrastructure for a seabed mining operation, cut off funding for the ship build.

With no money and no ship and forced to close its Papua New Guinea offices, perhaps it is no surprise senior staff have started bailing too. First, Chairman Russell Debney, on December 27  and then President, PNG Operations, Adam Wright.

But even given this alarming state of affairs, industry observers have been shocked to see Nautilus Minerals claiming, in its official Toronto Stock Exchange notices that it is still [12 February] working “closely with its partner Petromin”.

Clearly that statement can’t be true as Petromin is dead, it was extinguished by the Kumul Minerals Holdings Authorization Act of 2015. The Act replaced Petromin with Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited.

Kumul Mineral Holdings extract showing Petromin ceased to exist in December 2015

How could Nautilus Minerals not know that its partner in the Solwara 1 mine had been abolished by an Act of Parliament and replaced?

Whether a case of ignorance or sloppy management of its stock exchange statements, claiming to be working closely with a ghost is not a good look.

And there is more bad news for Nautilus. Unfortunately, the replacement of Petromin by Kumul Mineral Holdings just further undermines Nautilus’ lack of financial credibility, as Kumul Minerals Holdings is effectively bankrupt.

Kumul Minerals Holdings Annual Return for 2016, reveals a loss for the year of K354.7 million and total liabilities that exceed the total assets by K218.1 million.

Kumul Mineral Holding Ltd Annual Return 2016, page 11

This raises the question of whether Nautilus Minerals has informed its shareholders and the stock exchange of its partners financial strife and the ‘material uncertainty‘ it will be able to ‘realise its assets and settle its liabilities‘?

But then again, they are all probably reading this blog anyway!

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BCL wants to bully Bougainville into reopening Panguna

Has BCL not learnt from history that Bougainvilleans do not like being bullied!

BCL takes Bougainville Govt to court over licence non-renewal

Radio New Zealand | 16 February, 2018

Mining company Bougainville Copper Ltd is taking an arm of the Bougainville government to court.

This came after the autonomous government in the Papua New Guinea region announced late last year a moratorium on mining at Panguna, which had been abandoned in 1989 after the civil war started.

Two companies are vying to re-open Panguna but Bougainville President John Momis said to get the nod, the successful company must first win the trust of the people and BCL is yet to do this.

Meanwhile a mining wardens meeting in central Bougainville in December turned down BCL’s request for its exploration licence to be extended.

But the company is not giving up and secretary Mark Hitchcock says they want the licence restored, hence their application for a judicial review.

“We have taken the regulator , which is the Bougainville Government, as the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources, to court. We are seeking leave to apply for a judicial review of that decision, to not renew the exploration licence.”

The Bougainville government is the main shareholder in Bougainville Copper Ltd, with 36%, after it was given the lion’s share of equity by Rio Tinto when that company walked away from involvement in BCL two years ago.

Mr Hitchcock say the ABG leadership has told him that the company has to do what it has to do to protect the interests of all of its shareholders.

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Chinese looking to cut costs for Frieda river mine

What will be the costs for the environment and the mighty Sepik river as PanAust looks to “decrease capital expenditure”?

Frieda River upside options explored

PNG Industry News | 16 February 2018 

THE Frieda River copper-gold project in Papua New Guinea’s Sandaun Province represents PanAust’s long-term strategic growth opportunity.

This was said by PanAust managing director Fred Hess when he presented the company’s quarterly report for December 2017 this week.

[PanAust is wholly owned by Chinese State company, Guangdong Rising Assets Management Co. Ltd (GRAM)]

“In 2017, we made strides towards making the project a reality through identifying opportunities to increase the value of the project, decrease capital expenditure, and reduce its overall risk profile. 

“We will continue to evaluate these opportunities in 2018,” Hess said. 

The company says it continues to liaise with PNG authorities on Frieda River following lodgement of a special mining lease (SML) application and environmental impact statement (EIS) with the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) of Papua New Guinea and Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) of PNG, respectively in 2016.

“The overall approval and permitting process for the SML application and other permits and approvals is now being coordinated by a government appointed state negotiating team, chaired by the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management.

PanAust says it is investigating opportunities to increase the value of the project and access alternative development pathways to decrease capital expenditure and reduce the overall Project risk profile. Study work to investigate these opportunities continued throughout the quarter, and indicate several potential pathways for value enhancement. The outcomes of this work will inform a decision as to whether an update to the project’s SML application will be made.

Hess added: “Looking to the year ahead, PanAust will look to further strengthen the relationships that have become integral to the company’s success, and are synonymous with how it conducts itself where ever it operates.

“The common currency of PanAust’s success is the strength of its relationships; relationships with our employees, communities, host governments, suppliers, peers, and partners. These relationships depend on trust and consistent transparent communication. This is what pushes PanAust way ahead and will continue to do so throughout 2018,” Hess said.

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Tolukuma mine liquidated

“Asidokona Mining Resources is reputable, committed, has integrity, and capacity” said then Mining Minister, Byron Chan when the government sold the mine in 2015

Who in the Mineral Resource Authority is going to take responsibility for this monumental mess?

SEE ALSO

Tolukuma mine purchased by Asian finance company with no mining experience

More farce over government’s botched sale of Tolukuma mine

Tolukuma future looks bleak, despite MRA spin

Post Courier | February 13, 2018

One of Papua New Guinea’s gold mines, Tolukuma, was liquidated last week after a service provider took them to court for non-payment of bills totaling US$233,844 last year.

The National Court ordered on February 08, 2018, that:

  • Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited is placed into liquidation by this Court under the provisions of the Companies Act on the ground that it just and equitable that the company be placed into liquidation.
  • Andrew Pini of Pini Accountants and Advisors is appointed to act as liquidator of Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited.
  • Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited is to pay Hevi Lift Limited and IPI Catering Limited’s costs of and incidental to the proceeding.
  • The time of the entry of these orders is abridged to the date of settlement by the Registrar which shall take place forthwith.

Liquidator Andrew Pini confirmed yesterday that the National Court last Thursday appointed his accounting firm to take on the liquidation process effective immediately.

Hevi Lift took the matter to court in October 2017 for their outstanding of US$233,844 owing since June last year. Two other companies, IPI Catering and Pacific Development Contractors submitted in support their statements to the court, as they were also owed K1.6 million and K1.8 million respectively by Tolukuma Gold Mines.

“I don’t know exactly how much they owe the creditors or service providers, what I intend to do immediately is make an assessment of the real debt figure and then will put out a report,” Mr Pini said yesterday.

“I will visit the mine to start our process of liquidation, but for now I have come up with directions on how we can immediately start. I have put out public statements to all creditors of the company to come and lodge their claims using the prescribed claim Form 43 of Schedule 1 of the Companies Regulations 1998.

“In accordance with Regulations 21 and 22 creditors of the company are required to lodge their claims by 5pm Wednesday March 14, 2018. After this, then I will ascertain the real debt figure for the mine.”

A Singapore-based Asidokona Mining Resources, a private company, bought the Tolukuma gold mine in Central Province for K81.35 million to recapitalise and eventually restart it. They took over from Petromin in 2015.

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Nautilus Minerals misleads the world over machine testing

This Auxiliary cutter has been tested in a large puddle NOT the extreme conditions it will face at 1500 metres

Nautilus Minerals has been proudly trumpeting to the world the successful completion of the ‘submerged trials’ of its giant mining machines. Nautilus though has been carefully to omit one crucial fact about these ‘successful trials’, they have been conducted in a large puddle NOT in the extreme conditions of pressure, cold and darkness the machines will experience at a depth of 1500m.

Nautilus still has no idea if the machines can work in those conditions, just as it has no idea what the environmental impacts of the proposed strip mining will be… 

Submerged Test of Seafloor Mining Tools Completed

Maritime Executive | 12 February 2018

Nautilus Minerals has successfully completed submerged trials of its seafloor production tools in Papua New Guinea.

The company plans to use the tools to cut and extract high grade copper and gold from the seafloor at the Solwara 1 Joint Venture’s project site in the Bismarck Sea. Solwara 1 is expected to be the world’s first commercial high-grade seafloor copper-gold mine project. The site has indicated resources of one million tons grading 7.2 percent copper, five grams (0.18 ounces) of gold per ton, 23 grams (0.81 ounces) of silver and 0.4 percent zinc. Inferred resources add 1.5 million tons of 8.1 percent copper, 6.4 grams of gold, 34 grams of silver and 0.9 percent zinc.

Each of the machines, a bulk cutter, an auxiliary cutter and a collection machine, weighs around 250 tons. All three will operate at depths of around 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) in temperatures of 2.6 degrees Celsius. The machines are designed to break rock with much greater force than land machines and must operate at low temperatures to avoid overheating.

The Collecting machine

The auxiliary cutter prepares the rugged seabed for the more powerful bulk cutter. These two tools gather the excavated material; the third, the collecting machine, will collect the cut material by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the subsea pump and on to the support vessel above via the riser and lifting system.

The machines will be remotely controlled from a purpose-built vessel. The vessel is being built by China’s Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding and will measure 227 meters (750 feet) in length and 40 meters (130 feet) in width and will have accommodation for up to 180 people. It will generate approximately 31MW of power. 

Completing the trials in PNG allowed Nautilus to work closely with its partner Petromin, government officials and community leaders from coastal villages geographically closest to the Solwara 1 site the opportunity to witness the equipment in action.

The equipment is now being prepared for shipment to China where it will be integrated onto the support vessel [when and if it is ever completed].

Earlier this month, the Government of Papua New Guinea granted a two year exploration license to Nautilus. Work done in the area by the company has identified numerous exploration targets with similar geology to the deposits found at Solwara 1. 

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Court reinstates case of Tolukuma mine spill

Christopher Yowat | The National aka The Loggers Times | February 13, 2018

THE Supreme Court has reinstated a case filed against the Tolukuma Gold Mine Limited over the alleged spillage of sodium cyanide into rivers in Golilala district, Central, 18 years ago.

The case was filed by James Gabe and others in 2006. it claims that more than K1 million in damages from the mining company was dismissed by the National Court in April, 2014. Gabe then applied to the Supreme Court to review the decision by Justice Sir Bernard Sakora.

The three-man Supreme Court bench of judges David Cannings, Ere Kariko and Jeffery Shepherd, granted the orders sought by Gabe – that the dismissal of the case by the National Court on April 9, 2014, be quashed and that the matter be reinstated.

Justice Sir Bernard had dismissed the proceedings after he had been satisfied that Gabe and the other plaintiffs were guilty of an inordinate delay in prosecuting the case and that there had been no proper explanation for it.

Gabe argued that the decision to dismiss the case was made on an “erroneous factual basis”.

Justice Cannings, on behalf of the Supreme Court panel, said:

“We consider, with respect, that if his honour had closely analysed the events that took place in the six-month period between the failed mediation (in April 2013) and the filing of the respondent’s motion for dismissal (in October 2013), his honour would have formed a different view as to the satisfactoriness of the applicant’s explanation for the delay.”

See also: Disgraced judge Bernard Sakora resigns in latest move to avoid justice

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