Monthly Archives: May 2019

Locals Claim Earthquake Poses Great Threat To Wafi-Golpu Mine

“Newcrest and Harmony have never mentioned anything about earthquakes during any awareness”

See also: Magnitude 7.5 quake alongside proposed Solwara 1 mining site

Jerry Sefe | Post Courier | May 17, 2019

THE people of Yanta, Hengambu and Babwaf are concerned about the safety of their relatives who will be working at the underground Wafi-Golpu mine when it begins operations.

Their concern follows the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bulolo district last Tuesday. They described the quake as a wakeup call for the Wafi-Golpu underground mine developer Newcrest and Harmony.

They said the quake was disturbing to them as such natural occurrences may be hazardous in future for the Wafi-Golpu underground mine if it comes into full operation.

They said they are not representing any individual person nor its respective landowner presidents who were supposed to represent them to speak on behalf of them. “We are concerned about the lives of thousands of people including our children who will be working underground when the mine begins operation,” they said.

Provincial chairman of mines and petroleum and president of Mumeng local level government Okam Paton said he believes the resilience of these natural disasters would be captured in the mining environment impact statement.

However, he said it is in the best interest of the landowners that the responsible authorities respond to their concerns.

According to Wafi-Golpu project environmental impact statement chapter 21 of unplanned events, there is nothing mentioned about earthquakes.

“However, these events are often described as ‘low probability, high consequence’ events in reference to the position they occupy on a typical risk matrix.

“They can be broadly categorised as: natural events, significant seismic, weather or other natural events that occur infrequently but have the potential to cause significant damage.

“Accidental events, events originating from human activity that are considered unlikely due to the engineering design, operational controls and monitoring programs that are in place, but have the potential to cause significant damage if they do occur.

“Despite the low probability of occurrence of these events, the potential natural events considered most likely to affect the project are seismic events, tsunami, storm surge and flood events, bush fire and drought,” they said.

Knowing it would bring chaos to lives and properties, the landowners said they never thought of an earthquake at all, claiming the reason behind this was because they were not informed at all by the company.

“Newcrest and Harmony have never mentioned anything about earthquakes during any awareness or during the mining warden’s hearing over the years. “We were always limited to environmental destruction, compensation, royalty, and spinoff and so forth.

“Nothing was mentioned about earthquakes and its impacts on Wafi on both open cut and underground mine or how best the project can withstand the impacts during earthquakes,” they said.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

Landowners ordered to stay away from LNG project site

Charred machinery at the PD8 LPG development site in Hela province, PNG Highlands. June 2018. Image: Michael Passingan/PNG News.

The National aka The Loggers Times | May 15, 2019

THE National Court has issued a restraining order to landowners of Angore in Hela to stay away from the ExxonMobil’s project site.

Justice Derek Hartshorn issued the restraining order to Mango Kurali, a local from Angore PDL 8 area, his agents, tribesmen, relatives and supporters after finding that he and his associates participated in causing damage to ExxonMobil properties on Nov 15, 2017, May 29, 2018, and June 7, 2019.

“The evidence is unchallenged,” Justice Hartshorn said.

The court found that Kurali and his accomplices not only damaged properties, but also participated in setting up roadblocks, issuing threats and intimidating employees and contractors. This caused ExxonMobil to cease operations from time to time.

“ExxonMobil has rights,” Justice Hartshorn said. “PDL 8 itself grants ExxonMobil service rights to fulfil its obligations and construction to work and upgrade its existing gas lines under its licence.

“I am satisfied that the defendant had no right to destroy the properties and intimidate ExxonMobil contractors or prevent ExxonMobil’s operations in PDL 8.

“The actions by the defendants are against the law, and if not restrained by this court, he will continue to do what he did.”

The court held that ExxonMobil suffered damage estimated at millions of kina in its properties and it was not practical for ExxonMobil to compensate anybody.

In another case concerning damage to ExxonMobil’s properties in PDL8 as well, Justice Hartshorn issued restraining orders to Steven Au and David Hayebe.

They were charged with damaging properties, creating roadblocks and threatening employees.

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Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Vale says another ‘world class’ dam may collapse next week

Gongo Soco iron ore mine, in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. (Image courtesy of Vale SA)

Reuters | May 17, 2019

Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA told prosecutors in the state of Minas Gerais that a dam is at risk of rupturing at its Gongo Soco mine, about 40 miles from where its Brumadinho dam collapsed, killing more than 230 people.

According to a document published on Thursday, prosecutors said Vale is predicting the dam in the city of Barao de Cocais may collapse next week if the current rate of movement in the embankment of the mine pit close to the dam is maintained.

The warning underlines ongoing concern about the stability of dams in Brazil’s mining heartland of Minas Gerais in the aftermath of the Brumadinho accident, which itself came less than four years after another deadly dam collapse at a joint venture between Vale and BHP Group.

Vale said in a late afternoon statement it remained unclear whether the slippage in the embankment would actually trigger a collapse of the nearby Sul Superior dam, but said it was raising its level of alert and readiness for such an extreme case.

Earlier this week, Vale had identified movement close to the mine, which has not been active since 2016, the prosecutors said. About 500 people seen at risk from a collapse of the dam have been evacuated from their homes since February under orders from mining regulator ANM.

The dam holds 6 million cubic meters of mining waste, roughly half the amount that was released when the Brumadinho tailings dam burst in late January, burying nearby buildings including a company cafeteria and a bed and breakfast.

“If the movement of the northern embankment of the mine pit continues at the same pace, the rupture may happen between May 19 and May 25, which could cause liquefaction of the south dam,” the prosecutor’s document said.

Liquefaction, in which a dam’s barrier gets weakened as it turns to water, has been pegged as a likely cause of the Brumadinho collapse. Like Brumadinho, the dam at Gongo Soco has an upstream structure, known as the cheapest and least stable type of tailings dam design.

Vale shares fell 3.2% on Thursday, accelerating their drop after the reports on the potential dam burst. Prosecutors ordered Vale to issue urgent warnings about the risks to the local population.

Authorities in Brumadinho are still recovering bodies from the collapse of the Vale tailings dam there.

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Canadian mining companies pollute their own backyard too

 

Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake in British Columbia, Canada, have released a video unlike anything seen before. It was filmed by a remote underwater vehicle 50 metres below the surface of Quesnel Lake. And it has local people hot with anger.

What we see is a set of pipes from the Mount Polley mine leading straight into Quesnel Lake. A plume of untreated mine waste billows steadily into the water, hour after hour. These pipes pump up to 52 million litres of filth a day straight  into the water.

Locals say it’s disgusting and totally unacceptable. and want the company to get their pipes out of Quesnel Lake.

Would you drink this water?

Imperial Metals has never been held accountable for the tailings dam failure at the Mount Polley mine. The breach dumped 25 billion litres of contaminated sludge into the Fraser watershed. But the disaster didn’t stop. Five years later, the company is still polluting Quesnel Lake.

Quesnel Lake is home to nearly a quarter of B.C.’s sockeye salmon. Residents used to drink right out of the lake. Not anymore. Not with those pipes pumping out mine waste around the clock.

The Concerned Citizens of Quesnel Lake are a local grassroots group challenging Mount Polley’s discharge permit. But the company is fighting back with high-powered lawyers, trying to put the brakes on the appeal.

So now the citizens are calling on their government to step in and do what’s right as they say it is unconscionable to allow this company to continue polluting drinking water and freshwater salmon habitat.

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Resident to launch new goldmine legal action in Northern Ireland

Greencastle resident Martin Tracey is set to launch legal action over a planned goldmine in Co Tyrone

An interesting legal case in Northern Ireland. Plenty of human rights are being trampled by the government and mining industry in PNG too. Surely plenty of opportunities for similar legal actions?

Connla Young | The Irish News | 30 April, 2019

A Co Tyrone man opposed to goldmine plans in the Sperrin Mountains is set to launch legal action against a Stormont department on human rights grounds.

Greencastle resident Martin Tracey is taking action after a planning application by Canadian firm Dalradian Gold was submitted to the Department of Infrastructure (DFI).

Department officials were sent a pre-action letter last month but have yet to respond.

Mr Tracey’s lawyer Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, claimed in the letter that DFI has not taken any steps to assess the “risks posed with the proposed project contrary to its obligations pursuant to the Human Rights Act”.

Dalradian wants to build a processing plant which will use cyanide to remove gold from ore mined in the area.

Some local people are strongly opposed to the mine plan on health and environmental grounds.

The firm insists the process is safe.

Mr Mackin said the state has “a positive duty to protect health and life of the population from foreseeable risks from dangerous industrial activities”.

Areas of concern include that the “proposed application poses a risk to life, risk of inhuman and degrading treatment, his right to a private life and enjoyment of his property”.

All these issues are covered under articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Tracey has raised concerns about plans to use cyanide in the mining process and claims the DFI has not yet carried out a risk assessment.

Other concerns cite the possibility of radon disturbance, zinc deposits and the impact on the nearby Owenreagh and Owenkillew rivers, as well as diesel usage and potential noise pollution.

Both Dalradian and some political parties have previously supported calls for a public inquiry.

The firm has insisted it is proposing a safe project that “meets or exceeds strict environmental standards”, as well as bringing widespread economic and social benefits.

However, Mr Tracey last night demanded an “independent regional inquiry into gold mining led by globally recognized experts to highlight critical implications for public health”.

He said he has “no choice but to lodge a critical legal challenge against the Department of Infrastructure on the grounds of breaches of human rights”.

A spokeswoman for DFI said: “The department can confirm that a letter has been received.

“The department will be responding shortly.”

Meanwhile, a community group based in the Greencastle area is appealing a High Court decision to throw out a separate legal challenge brought earlier this year.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights

Magnitude 7.5 quake alongside proposed Solwara 1 mining site

The epicentre of the magnitude 7.5 earthquake was south of Namatanai

The centre of the quake was just a few kilometres from the proposed mine location

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Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Wafi Golpu SML Grant In June, Highly Unlikely

Frankiy Kapin | Post Courier | May 14, 2019

Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture is unlikely to be granted a special mining lease (SML) by end of June. This timeline was agreed to by the WGJV mine developer and the PNG Government.

WGJV head of external a airs David Wissink said recent developments in PNG render the possibility of a SML being granted by 30 June not viable. Mr Wissink said this as a main hindrance to the developer achieving set goals that contribute to the achievement of the project.

Wissink said WGJV is aware of the recent issuance of a stay order in the matter of Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu and others against Minister for Mining and others.

“The matter is a judicial review application made by the Governor concerning the actions of the Minister for Mining in regard to the execution of the Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the developers of the Wafi-Golpu project and the State of Papua New Guinea.

“The WGJV hopes that this matter is resolved soon, and stands ready to continue to participate constructively in all negotiations to take the project forward when it is appropriate to do so.”

Mr Wissink added that WGJV has been working constructively with the PNG Government; the Morobe provincial government; and the landowners to take forward the negotiation of various agreements necessary for the permitting of the project.

In relation to progressive proceedings including reaching the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) by parties to the Wafi-Golpu project, Mr Wissink said the MOA is one of a number of agreements necessary to be finalized to enable the permitting of the project.

“The Mineral Resources Authority has convened a development forum, and is collecting position papers from all identified stakeholders.

The Morobe provincial government is an important participant in this process and we are very pleased that it has recently submitted its position paper,” Mr Wissink said. He said the WGJV is yet to be given a copy of the MPG position paper and looks forward to going through the paper at an appropriate time to progress the project.

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Filed under Financial returns, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea