Monthly Archives: August 2018

Fiji: No short cuts to dealing with community grievances on mining

FCOSS executive director Vani Catanasiga. Picture: FT FILE

The Fiji Times | 29 August, 2018

There are no short cuts or easy solutions to dealing with community grievances and disputes arising from mining or extraction says the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS).

FCOSS executive director, Vani Catanasiga shared the sentiments after presenting to the UNDP-organised ”Addressing grievances and disputes from the Development Mineral” Capacity Building Workshop in Nadi

Catanasiga who presented on “Free, Prior, Informed Consent – A proactive approach to dealing with community grievances and disputes in extraction”  said while development stakeholders favour  a faster and more efficient approach to dealing with community grievances and disputes, this approach undermined the community’s right to decide on projects that could affect them adversely.

“Working to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC is about involving communities the right way so that development can have a lasting and positive legacy for both communities and companies,” she said.

“FPIC is an intentional process that should avail to affected communities information on government, business or banks that are stakeholders in the project, project details in their preferred language as well as convening community discussions that involve everyone – including women, children, elders, non-indigenous neighboring settlements – to discuss project terms.”

She said using FPIC could be a proactive approach to dealing with community grievances arising from access to and utilisation of natural resources.

“So yes it may seem, a long and sometimes difficult process but ultimately as you mainstream FPIC into your approaches, you indirectly build communities’ sense of ownership into ensuring the success of the project because you have included them,” she said.

Catanasiga said FPIC is emerging as a best practice approach for people centred development around the world because it promotes the inclusion of all communities that will be affected by proposed development projects.

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NZ fishing industry celebrates win over deep-sea mining proposal

Intrafish via Fishing Hacks

New Zealand’s fishing industry successfully appealed against the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision to allow Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine 50 million metric tons of seabed annually, and discharge 45 million metric tons of waste sediment into the waters off the coast of Taranaki for 35 years.

The appeals were lodged by Cloudy Bay Clams, New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen, Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, Southern Inshore Fisheries Management, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Talley’s Group, Greenpeace, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Te Runanga O Ngati Ruanui Trust, Forest and Bird, Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board, and the Trustees of Te Kahui O Rauru.

TTR’s first application was refused in June 2014 after a Decision Making Committee (DMC) appointed by the EPA found the application was premature and more time should have been taken to understand the proposed operation, its effects on the receiving environment and existing interests.

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand (FINZ) Chief Executive Jeremy Helson, said TTR’s most recent application was almost identical to the first, and did not address the EPA’s key reasons for refusing TTR’s application in 2014.

“By allowing the appeal, the High Court has today confirmed our view that the application, and the DMC’s decision, were deficient,” he said. “The court quashed the decision saying the narrow interpretation of the adaptive management approach was inconsistent with the law.

“This is a good decision by the High Court and we are pleased this matter has again been rejected,” said Helson. “It is clear from these failed attempts that a significant re-think is required on seabed mining.”

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, New Zealand

Environmentalists win appeal against seabed mining decision

KASM chairwoman Cindy Baxter said the news was a victory for those who fought against the seabed mining consent. TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein and Christina Persico  | Stuff NZ | August 28 2018

The South Taranaki Bight seabed mining decision was overturned because its method of environmental management was illegal, the High Court ruled.

In August last year, Trans Tasman Resources was granted consent to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66sqkm area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years by the Environmental Protection Authority. Following a split decision a casting vote was used in favour of TTR’s consent. 

However, the decision was appealed in the High Court by 11 parties and a hearing was carried out in the Wellington High Court in April, but Justice Peter Churchman reserved his decision. The decision was released on Tuesday and ruled in favour of the environmentalists.

The judge ruled incorrect interpretation of legal terms around protecting the ocean environment “may well have influenced” the outcome of the seabed mining consent.

It was found the decision-making committee’s (DMC) conditions either was or contributed to an “adaptive management approach”, which was not permitted in an area governed by the EEZ Act, and labelled a “suck it and see” method by appellants. 

Adaptive management is allowing an activity with uncertain effects and continually assessing it – any unanticipated effects must be able to be managed by changing or stopping the activity.  

The judge ruled that the interpretation was “inconsistent with the purpose of the Act” in protecting the environment from pollution and with the obligation to favour caution and environmental protection if the information available was inadequate.

The error “may well have” influenced the outcome of the consent application, it was ruled.

“The appeal is allowed and the decision of the DMC [decision making committee] is quashed. The matter is referred back to the DMC for reconsideration, applying the correct legal test in relation to the concept of adaptive management approach,” the decision outcome said. 

The appellents argued it was illegal under New Zealand law applying to the EEZ and continental shelf, and the judge agreed.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm) and Greenpeace issued a joint press release saying the overturning was a “victory for the oceans”. 

“This is a victory for the thousands of people who have protested and the 13,000 who made submissions against this awful proposal, a victory for the South Taranaki Bight, the blue whales and the entire New Zealand marine ecosystem,” Kasm chair Cindy Baxter said.

The main part of the decision by Justice Churchman focused on what the appellants all argued was “adaptive management” – a practice of essentially “trying it out and seeing what happens, and adapting the conditions accordingly”. That, they argued, was illegal under New Zealand law applying to the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

The judge agreed with these arguments, and has sent the decision back to the EPA “for reconsideration, applying the correct legal test in relation to the concept of adaptive management approach”.

“This is a huge win for the oceans, and for people power. Oceans are the life support system of our planet,” Greenpeace NZ executive director Russel Norman said in the statement. 

“I certainly hope this will be the last we’ll see of these wannabe miners.”

In overturning the EPA’s decision, the High Court had prevented “vandalism” of the ocean and a habitat for blue whales, Norman said.

Chris Wilkes, who was with Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm) at the appeal hearing but has since resigned from his post, was heading out to sea just minutes after hearing the news.

“The whole idea of the ocean being desecrated is a personal thing for me, I’ll be sitting at Stent Rd knowing it’s safe, that’s such a relief.” 

Hopefully this is the last we see of TTR, he said.

“On a personal level it took a lot of my life, its great to see that has paid off.”

Ngati Ruanui said the High Court win proved voices and actions counted.

“We have fought this battle twice and won each time,”  Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust Kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

“This is a clear sign that the EPA did not get things right to start with so we hope they’re actually listening this time.”

Ngati Ruanui will keep up the pressure to decline this archaic form of economic development should TTR appeal this decision, Ngarewa-Packer said.

She said the iwi led the appeal because it “goes to the heart of who we are as tangata whenua, ensuring generations can enjoy our shoreline”.

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand said the High Court decision “confirmed our view that the application, and the DMC’s decision, were deficient”.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the news would give the country’s only known population of blue whale a reprieve from the imminent threat of experimental seabed mining.  

“This area is habitat for 34 species of marine mammals, including Hector’s and Māui dolphins, humpback whales, and New Zealand’s own population of blue whale,” Hague said in a statement.

“This activity would likely kill everything on the seafloor, and severely disrupt the habitat of blue whales and other sound sensitive creatures.”

The Green Party’s Gareth Hughes said: 

“Risking the habitat of threatened Blue Whales and the world’s smallest and most endangered dolphin, the Maui’s for a quick buck went against New Zealanders values and now, also against our law.

“The Green Party has long been opposed to seabed mining and is urging New Zealand adopt a seabed mining moratorium as other states have.”

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Filed under Environmental impact, New Zealand

Nautilus Minerals Dives to New 12-Month Low at $0.11

Michael Baxter | X News Press | August 26, 2018

Nautilus Minerals Inc. share price hit a new 52-week low during trading on Friday . The stock traded as low as C$0.11 and last traded at C$0.11, with a volume of 14100 shares changing hands. The stock had previously closed at C$0.12.

See also:
Nautilus’ stock plummets as deep sea mining litigation proceeds
Nautilus Minerals tanks on shipbuilding contract cancellation
Anglo American divests from Nautilus over risks of deep sea mining

Nautilus Minerals Inc, a seafloor resource exploration company, explores and develops the ocean floor for copper, gold, silver, and zinc seafloor massive sulphide deposits. It also explores for manganese, nickel, and cobalt nodule deposits. The company’s principal project is the Solwara 1 project located in the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea.

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PNG Mining Minister cautious about Hidden Valley Mine Threat

Gabriel Lahoc | NBC News | 26 August 2018

Papua New Guinea Mining Minister Johnson Tuke says he is not aware of issues arising from the Hidden Valley mine and will only respond upon receiving official complaints.

The Minister made this response to Rex Mauri, Chairman of Nakuwi Landowners Association, the traditional landowners of Hidden Valley mine operated by South African company, Harmony Gold Mining Company.

Mauri threatened to shut down the mine as a last resort approach, saying it is unfair that the government failed to review the Hidden Valley mine Memorandum of Agreement, five years after it was due, while now rushing into negotiating a new agreement for the new neighboring Wafi-Golpu project.

Mauri said, he will lead the locals in forcefully shutting down the Hidden Valley mine, after failing to get the national government to review the outdated HiddenValley Mine MoA.

Mauri claimed the state agencies responsible for agreement review is the Mineral Resources Authority, Department of Mining, Department of Environment and Conservation, Office of State Solicitor, Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazzards Management, are responsible in dragging the review process.

As a result, this has given room to the developer in abuse some operational matters, especially overlooking its obligation in prioritizing the landowners in employment, contracts and other spin-off activities.

“This government is not playing the right thing, no,” Mauri, who initially got into the mining industry 36 years ago as a young local, guiding gold explorations teams into the jungles of what is now the Hidden Valley mine, said.

The minister, who is also Kainantu MP, said there are procedures in place for landowners grievances.

He added that he has not yet received any formal complaints from Mauri, who is also president of all mine landowners associations around the country, and will only respond to accordingly.

“I only talk about what is before my table and nothing of such nature has reached my table,” he said.

“But again, we are guided, the mining industry is a guided industry, we’ve got sets of laws and acts,” Minister Tuke said.

“I will only respond as and when a letter of complaint come forth to my office but at this point in time I am fairly ignorant,” he said.

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Tuke Calls For Transparency On K92 Deal

Mining Minister Johnson Tuke

Post Courier | August 22, 2018

Mining Minister Johnson Tuke has appealed to parties to the K92 mining project memorandum of agreement to be transparent when negotiating benefits of the project.

The Minister was speaking to parties on Tuesday during the review of the MOA which is taking place in Lae this week.

“Mi laikim state imas tok tru, mi laikim line agencies blo gavman mas tok tru, kampani mas tok tru na ol landowners tu mas tok tru (I want the State to tell the truth, government line agencies to tell the truth, the developer company must tell the truth, and the landowners must tell the truth).”

Tuke said it was important to be upfront on issues and in that way, all stakeholders could achieve their objectives in a timely manner.

He urged all parties to have understanding and respect for each other during the negotiations.

The Minister raised issues with the fact that Kainantu District has not seen development as a result of the mine’s operations so far.

Mr Tuke said as long as he is the Minister for Mining, he would try to ensure that all parties, especially landowners of all mines in the country, receive benefits through their various MOA.

He said the National Government has reviewed the Mining Act 1992 in efforts to better the way government regulates the mining industry in the country.

“This is part of the government’s intervention to ensure that the country’s aspirations and interests are captured sufficiently,” Mr Tuke said.

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Geopacific now holding 93% of PNG goldfield

Matt Birney | The West Australian | 23 August 2018

ASX listed gold developer Geopacific Resources now holds a 51% direct interest in its flagship Woodlark gold project in PNG, after achieving the second tranche incentive milestone with its project JV partner Kula Gold Limited.

The company now holds a 93% economic interest in the project, courtesy of its 85% controlling interest in Kula Gold in addition to its direct interest in the project.

The project level earn-in agreement with Kula dates back to July 2016 and required the company to spend up to A$8m over a 2-year period and complete an estimation of an initial ore reserve exceeding 1.2 million gold ounces to achieve this second tranche.

With both of these hurdles now overcome, Geopacific will concentrate on meeting the requirements of the third and final tranche of the JV agreement with Kula, where it can earn a 95% economic interest in the project, effectively winding up the JV.

The remaining 5% interest will be taken up by the PNG Government, who has agreed to take this stake when the project is ready to be mined, by reimbursing a proportionate share of sunk costs.

Geopacific Managing Director Ron Heeks said: “Geopacific now directly owns 51% of Woodlark Mining Limited and will continue to increase ownership as we move forward with development of the project.”

“The DFS continues as does exploration to scope out the larger goldfield that holds such potential. Our debt advisors Ironstone Capital are also progressing well. The project is coming together as we hoped and continues to move towards a 2019 start to construction.”

The company has strongly focussed its attention on the Woodlark gold project over the last two years in order to stay on schedule for this intriguing opportunity.

Geopacific reported the outcome of its PFS for the Woodlark project in March, saying the results indicated a robust, low-cost, low stripping ratio, open pit operation that could deliver an average of 100,000 ounces of gold annually, over a 10-year initial mine life.

Since that time, the company has commenced an island-wide soil sampling program over its tenements in PNG and has hardly missed a beat, turning up multiple gold and copper targets pretty much everywhere it looks.

This is perhaps unsurprising, given the project’s location in the “ring of fire”, surrounded by multi-million ounce deposits at Lihir, Panguna, Simberi and Misima.

Geopacific has proved up a mineral resource of 1.57 million ounces, whilst developing new exploration targets nearby to potentially add to its arsenal over coming years.

The big picture envisaged by the company more than 2 years ago is finally coming together, with project development well underway, ongoing exploration success outside the main mining leases and consolidation of the project ownership on schedule.

Geopacific is well on track to become PNG’s next significant gold producer over the coming year or so.

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