Monthly Archives: June 2018

Indonesia beefing up disputed Papua border force in bid for minerals

Papua’s disputed border with Papua New Guinea … hunt on for mineral riches. Image: PNG Blogs

Albert Agua | Asia Pacific Report | June 29, 2018

Indonesia is driving towards the Papua New Guinea border because of a recent discovery of huge mineral deposits in the Star Mountain regency just at the back of Tabubil Ok Tedi mine.

“Reportedly, there is gold, copper, coal, and thorium – a safer radioactive chemical than uranium,” says president-director of PT Antam Tato Miraza, who was then Director of Development, reports Pusaka.

“Geological Survey shows its potential is good and promising.”

The core of the deposit is, however, found in the disputed area of the border between PNG and Indonesia.

The claimed Papua border “shift” – the red zone near Ok Tedi mine. Source: PNG Blogs

Recently, Indonesian troops patrolled to Korkit and surveyed the land just around 40km from Ok Tedi, less than 10km from the border marker in the Korkit village to build another military base.

The citizens from Korkit village who are PNG citizens are moving into the new Indonesian village.

This is just 20km from the mineral deposit area.

Thorium, a weakly radioactive element that can be used as fuel in a nuclear power reactor, has been discovered in the disputed area and this has been the sole driver for Indonesians to force themselves into the disputed territory.

Also the “explorers” are actually the military carrying out the exploration.

The Indonesians have been transporting mining supplies to the area and the locals are prepared to wage war if the exploration continues under heavy military security.

Wutung border improvements

Meanwhile, major improvements in infrastructure and capacity are planned for the PNG-Papua border at Wutung, reports Loop PNG.

The improvements are planned as part of the PNG government’s West Sepik Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

National Planning Minister Richard Maru and delegates of a fact-finding mission to West Sepik visited the border area last week.

Loop PNG also reports that an international bus service and terminal are planned for the Wutung border post.

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For two global miners, ‘profitable production’ has meant devastation

The Yanacocha gold mine

Ellen Moore | Earthworks  | June 27, 2018

Since 2000, the Batu Hijau copper-gold mine on Sumbawa Island in Indonesia has dumped 720 million tonnes of toxic tailings into the Senunu Bay in the Indian Ocean. Until 2016, the mine was majority owned and operated by the US company, Newmont Mining Corp, which controlled 48.5% of the economic interests. Together with Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, they held over 70% of shares in the project.

After 16 years of mine waste dumping, both Newmont and Sumitomo sold their ownership stakesin Batu Hijau in November 2016, simply walking away from an environmental disaster of massive proportions. Now Newmont and Sumitomo are teaming up again; this time, at the Yanacocha mine in Cajamarca, Peru.

On June 20th, Newmont announced that Sumitomo had purchased a 5% stake in the controversial Yanaococha mining company for US $48 million. The stake was previously held by International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector branch of the World Bank. The IFC announced it had ended its 24 year relationship with Minera Yanacocha in December 2017.

The new arrangement means Newmont continues to hold a 51.35% a majority share in Yanaococha mining, together with Peruvian company, Buenaventura (43.65%) and Sumitomo (5%).

Yanacocha and Batu Hijau: Dominating and Destructive

The massive Yanacocha gold mine in the arid Andean Highlands of Cajamarca, Peru, has contaminated critical water sources in the region and had devastating impacts on local sustainable livelihoods. The mine’s unpopularity has sparked broad based resistance to Newmont’s plans to expand operations, first to Cerro Quilish and later at the proposed Conga project. The mining company and state’s attempts to quell opposition have resulted in allegations of human rights abuses and violence. Subsistence farmer, Máxima Acuña de Chaupe, has refused to cede her land to Newmont for the Conga mine, and has faced nearly a decade of harassment, abuse and legal persecution. Despite the hold on development of the Conga project for now, the addition of Sumitomo suggests Newmont isn’t planning on leaving Cajamarca any time soon.

Like Yanacocha, the Batu Hijau mine is also known for the litany of documented environmental harms starting almost at the outset of operations in 2000. Just over one year into operations, a pipeline that transported mine waste from the production site to the ocean broke, dumping tailings into an area of fragile coral reefs. Indonesian environmental group, WALHI, reported reduced fish populations, water pollution, and impacts on local fisheries and livelihoods. The project has also been criticized for destroying rainforest, protected bird habitat and key biodiversity areas. In May 2011, the local West Sumbawa government appealed to the Indonesian government to not renew the mine’s permit to dump, but they were ignored. That same year, Newmont secured financingfrom a consortium of banks including Goldman Sachs Lending Partners LLC and BNP Paribas SA to expand the polluting mine.

Ocean Dumping

The practice of dumping mine waste into the ocean was outdated when Batu Hijau began operating back in 2000. Today it is one of just seven mines still dumping mine waste into the sea. Earthworks and the Ditch Ocean Dumping coalition is leading a  growing movement demanding the practice be phased out once and for all.  

In its statement announcing the sale, Newmont executive vice president for strategic development, Randy Engle said, “We had a long and productive partnership with Sumitomo at Batu Hijau in Indonesia, and we look forward to working with them and Buenaventura to advance the next generation of profitable production at Yanacocha.” Unfortunately, when it comes to Newmont and Sumitomo, ‘profitable production’ has meant devastating consequences for ecosystems and the people that depend on them. Communities and civil society groups are watching closely to see if Sumitomo and Newmont will finally take responsibility in Peru by respecting human rights and communities’ right to say no to Conga or other mining projects, ending pollution of scarce water supplies, and ensuring fully funded closure and reclamation for the Yanacocha mine.

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Fiji landowners query royalties

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | 29 June 2018

WHILE Government has reassured resource owners that they will continue to receive 80 per cent of royalties from the use of their resources, landowners of Nawailevu, Bua, are still querying about funds promised to them for the mining of bauxite on their land.

Nawailevu landowning unit spokesman Waisale Kaidawa said they were still waiting for the royalties promised to them.

Mr Kaidawa said as owners of the land from which bauxite ores were being mined, they were still not clear on when they would receive these royalties.

“It is still not clear with us where these funds are and when it will be released to us,” he said.

“Government, in this year’s budget, needs to hold awareness to us on where this money has gone because we have projects awaiting funding from these royalties.

“It is only fair that resource owners like us get clarification on where this money is being used and how.

“To this day, we are still waiting for word on the Future Generation Funds that we were promised — no word has come to us.”

In his budget announcement last night, Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said 80 per cent of any royalties for any minerals mined from land and the seabed goes back to resource owners.

“Of course as introduced this year, 80 per cent of any royalties for any mineral resources mined on land and any seabed in Fiji goes straight back to resource owners,” he said.

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Bougainville leader wants Papua New Guinea to talk civil war compensation

The Bougainville Civil War caused incredible devastation and loss, including this picture taken at the ruins of Arawa Hospital in 1997. Photo: AFP

Radio New Zealand | 28 June 2018 

A former prominent leader in Bougainville says Papua New Guinea has to start discussing compensation for the damage it caused during the civil war.

Martin Miriori, who led the Bougainville Interim government during the latter stage of the war, says the Joint Supervisory Board talks on Friday in Arawa should consider compensation.

The talks, between the PNG and Bougainville governments, are to lay the final preparations for a referendum next year on possible independence for Bougainville, as laid down in the 2001 Peace Agreement.

Mr Miriori said PNG needs to be held responsible for killing thousands, for the burning down of hundreds of villages and the destruction of property, and these issues need to be talked about now.

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Seabed mining concerns taken to United Nations

Kataraina Graham, 2, was part of the Ngati Ruanui seabed mining protest at Castlecliff in September 2017. Photo Bevan Conley.

Simon Waters | Wanganui Chronicle | 27 June 2018

Ngā Rauru is taking its concerns about proposed seabed mining in the South Taranaki Bight to the United Nations.

Te Kaahui o Rauru board member Te Huia Bill Hamilton will present them to the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

He heads to Geneva for the five-day conference this month and will be representing the National Iwi Chairs’ Forum.

Consent given for the mining breaches International Human Rights Law and marginalises the iwi’s views, he said.

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Mercury puts gold miners at risk of heart attack

Hezron Kising | The National aka The Loggers Times | 28 June 2018

Small-scale gold miners who directly handle mercury while extracting gold have a greater risk of developing heart disease, a study reveals.

Michael Kiapulkalow, a senior environmental science lecturer at University of PNG, said mercury and its compounds were highly toxic and had adverse effects on human health, wildlife and the environment.

He said this during a workshop on chemical and waste management by Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA).

This was in regard to thousands of artisanal small-scale gold mining activities throughout the country where people were exposed to chemicals that could harm them.

“Mercury is highly toxic, causing damage to the nervous system at even relatively low levels of exposure” Kiapulkalow said.

“In Wau-Bulolo district in Morobe and Misima Island in Milne Bay, hundreds of people have been exposed to mercury and will encounter long-term health problems.

“It is particularly harmful to the development of unborn children if a pregnant women is exposed or involved.

“Mercury usually collects in human and animal bodies and can be concentrated through the food chain, especially in certain types of fish. Women who are breastfeeding or might become pregnant should limit their interaction in and around those small scale gold mining areas, since there is high amount of mercury concentration released into the environment.

“It’s generally anticipated that the artisanal small-scale gold mining sector has more mercury releases into the environment than the large operating mines.”

Kiapulkalow said CEPA had implemented a convention with the national government to address the issue by putting in place the Minamata Convention (MC).

“MC is a global treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from the adverse impacts of mercury and its compounds,” he said.

“PNG was not able to sign the MC and is currently not a party to the MC.

“There is currently a joint National Executive Council submission between Foreign Affairs Department and CEPA for PNG to accede to the MC.

“PNG will look to becoming a party to the Minamata Convention in 2019.

“That will protect human health and environment from the risks posed by unintentional and intentional emissions and releases, unsound use and management of mercury.”

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Porgera Mine Resumes Full Operation And Power

Post Courier | 28 June 2018

Barrick (Niugini) Limited reported that Porgera gold mine in Enga Province has resumed full operations, and power has been restored to the Porgera community.

The resumption comes five months ahead of the original estimated repair schedule, following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on 26 February this year, which caused substantial damage to the company’s power plant in Hides, Hela Province.

The plant suffered damage to both buildings and equipment, including the gas turbines, and the main control room which required extensive repairs .The mine had been operating on backup diesel generators with limited processing functions, while the Porgera community had been without power since the earthquake, except for a number of critical service providers that the mine had assisted by donating fuel and generators.

Power to the mine was restored on June 1 and the community on June 6.

The Hides power plant provides about 70 megawatt of power to the Porgera gold mine and annually about 2MW is supplied to the Porgera valley community free of charge (FOC) at an estimated cost of US$2.5 million (K8.1 million).

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