Monthly Archives: December 2019

Fighting Among Illegal Miners Worries Barrick

Barrick Gold looks to PNG government to sort out a mess that the Canadian mining company itself has created

Post Courier | December 30, 2019

Operator of the Porgera gold mine in Enga Province, Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL) has called on the government for an urgent intervention in Porgera after a protracted violent conflict between armed warring factions of illegal miners.

The operator stated that the illegal miners are believed to be from Tari.

The incident happened earlier this week on the Porgera Special Mining Lease which the clash occurred in the mine’s open pit area where numerous gun shots were discharged.

There were also reports from community members that many other combatants with injuries from the gun battle were carried away from the area by their accomplices.

The gun battle came just 24 hours after mine security personnel and members of the PNG police recov-ered the body of a woman who had died of significant injuries, including gun-shot wounds, within the mine’s operations area. The woman was also believed to be from Tari.

“BNL is appalled by the level of lawlessness that is continuing to pervade the Porgera district, and is particularly concerned by the senseless killing and the use of rearms by warring groups of illegal miners who have invaded Porgera from other areas.

“The on-going use of rearms by outside criminal elements continues to create fear among the community and local mine employees,” a company spokesman said.

“The company remains ready to support the government’s commitment to a long-term solution for Porgera’s law and order problems, following discussions between Police Minister Bryan Kramer and the community during the Minister’s recent visit to the district.”

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Mining Sector not giving enough Money to PNG : Expert

The National aka The Loggers Times | 23 December 2019

PAPUA New Guinea is not getting enough in terms of revenue generation from the resource projects it has, an expert says.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tax adviser Vy Tran made the statement during the launch of the mining audit programmes and mine closure and rehabilitation plan in Port Moresby on Friday.

“PNG has a long history of mining,” he said.

“Our friends from MRA told me that mining started in the 1930s.

“So that’s almost 90 years of mining in PNG.

“During that time, the questions has been whether the citizens have seen the benefits from the mining sector.

“Jobs come from mining. But the other question was that whether the taxation revenue has flowed from that.

“Taxation revenue is very important in terms of redistributing that wealth to other citizens.”

Tran further noted that in 2007, OECD conducted a study that looked at taxation revenues as a measure against GDP.

“PNG’s ratio in that respect was 13 per cent,” he said.

“The question is that is that a strong percentage?

“When compared to your peers in the Pacific, it ranked the lowest.

“It was ranked lowest in terms of revenue collection to GDP.

“At the same time, in comparison to developed countries that are resource rich like Australia, Australia was more than doubled that ratio.”

Tran said in comparison to the average in Africa, PNG ranked five per cent lower than African countries.

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Alluvial mining sector has huge potential

 

LOOP PNG | 24 December 2019

Over a billion kina can be generated from the Alluvial Mining Industry if small scale miners are upskilled.

The Small Scale Mining Training Centre in Wau, Morobe Province, is one such facility upskilling small scale miners in the sector.

And so far the results have been positive with more than 5000 small scale miners graduating through the program.

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ABG President Momis bans several Foreign Company Executives from Entering Bougainville

President of the autonomous Bougainville government, John Momis. Photo: RNZI

Press Statement | PNG Today | December 22, 2019  

It has been brought to the attention of the ABG that certain foreign company executives and shareholders who have a travel ban imposed on them are still continuing to disrespect our customs and laws, and causing disharmony amongst our people at such a critical time in Bougainville’s history.

As such the ABG has had no choice but request the assistance of the Prime Minister of the National Government, Hon. James Marape MP and the Office of Immigration and Border Security, to impose a travel ban on the below individuals from entering PNG and Bougainville:

Mr Michael J Carrick – Chairman of RTG Mining

Ms Justine A Magee – CEO and Executive Director of RTG Mining

Mr Mark Turner – COO of RTG Mining

Mr Robert N Smith – Non-Executive Director of RTG Mining

Mr Phillip C Lockyer – Non-Executive Director of RTG Mining

Mr Renzie Duncan – Shareholder Central Exploration Pty Ltd.

Mr Nikolajs (Nik) Zuks – Shareholder of Kalia Group

I confirm this travel ban was put in place on 3rd October 2018, and now again on 24th September 2019. This travel ban will not be uplifted under any circumstance.

I hope this clears up any confusion or misunderstanding for anyone currently interacting with these individuals on the false hope of future business partnerships in PNG and Bougainville.

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Australian miner admits workers attacked in Bougainville

Radio New Zealand | 20 December 2019 

The Australian-owned miner, Kalia, has revised its account of how its geologist, Terry Wyn Kilya, died in north Bougainville.

Mr Kilya, from Enga Province, was an employee of Kalia/Toremana Joint Venture Ltd, which has been conducting mineral exploration in a disputed area.

Last week, the company announced he had died “in a fall”, but the Bougainville government has said Mr Kilya was killed in a clash with a group it called “criminal thugs.”

However, Kalia yesterday advised the Australian Stock Exchange that Mr Kilya and seven other staff were attacked by “an outside group,” during which the geologist had a fatal fall.

It said the other staff were left with stab wounds, lacerations and soft tissue injuries.

The government in the PNG autonomous region earlier said the company was out of order to be encroaching on disputed land but the company said it had the permission of the landowners.

‘The company has miserably failed’

Bougainville’s President John Momis has linked the death to criminal elements in an area, where tensions exist due to unresolved social problems related to the mining exploration work.

He said it was deeply regrettable that a talented and experienced geologist, who came to the region to share his skills and expertise, had been killed.

“Bougainvilleans have spoken in the referendum vote that we want to be liberated and free to charter our new path ahead, but this sort of unnecessary incident is disheartening,” Mr Momis said in a statement.

Mr Momis extended an apology and his condolences to Mr Kilya’s family and the people of Enga Province on behalf of the people and government of Bougainville.

A reconciliation payment or ‘bel kol’ of $US28,633 has been paid to the victim’s family to help with funeral arrangements.

“In our Melanesian way and culture, we want to truly say sorry to the people of Enga and the family of the late Terry Win Kilya by extending our ‘bel kol’ assistance to late Terry’s family,” he said.

Mr Momis had ordered the indefinite suspension of the company’s exploration licence and called for it to explain why such an avoidable tragedy was allowed to occur.

“The company has miserably failed to address its social issues and to fulfil its corporate social responsibility as a client of the ABG,” he said.

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Bougainville mine activities suspended

Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis.

The National aka The Loggers Times | 18 December 2019

AUTONOMOUS Bougainville Government President John Momis has announced that all exploration activities on Bougainville are suspended for an indefinite period

Momis said the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) decided to suspend all exploration activities in Tinputz, Isina and Kokoda due to the killing of a non-Bougainvillean geologist in Tinputz on Friday.

“BEC has now suspended the Toremana Joint Venture Company activities in its tenement areas of EL03/EL04 until further notice.

“The BEC has also summoned Kalia/Toremana to explain why such an avoidable incident was allowed to happen in the first instance.

“The BEC has directed the deputy commissioner of Bougainville police to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Meanwhile, Kalia Ltd has passed their condolences in a statement to the late Terry Win Kilya’s family and his friends.

“Terry Kilya received fatal injuries in a fall while undertaking fieldwork on the company’s Mt Tore tenement around midday on Friday. The company is working with local police and officers from the Department of Minerals and Resources Energy to determine the full circumstance related to the incident. The company through Tore Joint Venture Ltd manages two exploration licences on Bougainville.”

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Geologist killed at Bougainville mine

Clifford Faiparik | The National aka The Loggers Times | 17 December 2019

SOME disgruntled landowners allegedly killed a geologist from Enga at a new gold mining project on Bougainville last Friday, Bougainville Police Service commander Francis Tokura confirmed.

“The suspects armed with bush knives and axes confronted the geologist and his local workers and pushed him over the cliff, resulting in him hitting hard on the stones at the base of the cliff,” Tokura said.

“His body has been brought to the Buka General Hospital and police have been deployed to that remote area in Tinputz to talk to the chiefs there.

“Also, we are awaiting a post-mortem report to investigate his death. But from visual examination, there are bruises on his body indicating that there was a physical struggle.”

Tokura said yesterday that the geologist, Terry Win Kilya, was killed at an exploration site called Melelup in North Bougainville.

“From reports, some disgruntled landowners attacked him. The other workers also sustained serious wounds from the knives and axes and they are also admitted at the Hospital.”

Tokura said Kilya was employed by a Joint Venture Company called the Toremana Joint Venture.

“The TJV comprises a foreign mining company called Kalia Ltd and the landowners company called Toremana Resources Ltd.

“And they are doing exploration for gold.

“But as always throughout PNG, there will always be difference among the landowners over such project and that exploration area is huge.

“So the exploration of that area is through the arrangement with some other landowners and other landowners must have been angry.

“A lot of people are now claiming ownership of that area.

“It is something like the LNG project where there are disgruntlements among landowners of Papa and Lea lea villages in Central province.

“And so we have beefed up manpower in Tinputz to go into that area to conduct investigations but we are going through the community leaders because that area is so rugged terrain and isolated and is inaccessible by road as well.”

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Interview: Emmanuel Peni, Coordinator of Project Sepik, Papua New Guinea

Emmanuel Peni says he has received death threats and been shot at for leading opposition to the Frieda river mine

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre 

Emmanuel Peni is the coordinator of Project Sepik (PS), the organisation of people fighting to stop the mining project called ‘Frieda River Project’ by the Australia-based and Chinese government owned company PanAust. The ‘Frieda River Project’ submitted an application for a mining license – the mine is planned to be developed in the Frieda river area. The mine’s tailings will be dammed and dumped into the Sepik River.

BHRRC: What is your name and what is your role as a business and human rights activist working to protect human rights in Sepik River, Papua New Guinea?

My name is Emmanuel Peni; everyone calls me Manu. I provide support to local leaders along the Sepik River and in Wewak—the voices behind the campaign to stop the mining.

BHRRC: Could you explain what business and human rights issues you are working on in connection with the Frieda River Project?

The Sepik River copper and gold mine is a project of PanAust, a Chinese company registered in Australia. The main issue for us is that we are not informed; we’re denied the facts. We have difficulty understanding the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is a very technical document with significant implications for the human rights of people in the Sepik River area. How can they say we have an informed consent? They can’t.

We just learned that the EIS doesn’t state that they were dumping arsenic into the river. With the new information, people are fearful. To put this in perspective, consider the case of the Chinese mining company, MSG, which mines nickel in Madang. 10 years ago, our communities along the river rose up and said no to the mine. The project went ahead anyway. This year there was a leakage in the deep sea bed waste disposal, and contaminants were discharged into the sea. In October, the provincial governor invited a Swiss company to come in and do independent testing; they said it’s so polluted, people should not eat anything from the sea. One person has died already from eating polluted fish.

After this happened, the PNG Environmental Protection Agency came with their own scientists, did tests and claimed there was no contamination. It was apparent for us then that the central authority is compromised. Nobody is standing up for the people along the coastline in Papua New Guinea. The fact that we cannot trust our own government is making the people become very angry; they’re just about ready to take the law into their own hands.

BHRRC: Why are local communities concerned about mining happening along the Sepik River?

Number one, we’ve looked around at mining in Papua New Guinea and in the world. We have heard, seen and read enough to know that no mining is safe, period. This is even truer again given our location. The Sepik River mine is situated in Zone One and Zone Two of the Ring of Fire. It’s a highly volatile zone. Every day there is movement in the Earth. You simply cannot safely build a mine on Zone One and Zone Two of the Ring of Fire.

Number two, there is land instability in the region, which is problematic. It will not hold a structure, but they’re proposing to build a dam on it—and then within the Ring of Fire on top of that. The area has very high rainfall on top of that again. People are afraid that PanAust will build a very bad dam, it will break, and there will be a big flood. It’s our view that they have been cutting corners.

Many mining companies promise roads, schools, bridges and other infrastructure projects. In the past we didn’t know much, so we said, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ Now communities are saying, wait a minute, that’s not your responsibility. You need to pay tax to the government, and they will give us the schools and the roads and the hospitals. Promising these things is a kind of trickery, a kind of bribery. They know that people need those things and they play on those needs.

Another concern is the legacy of mining at Ok Tedi. BHP, the Australian company, really destroyed that area. We don’t see Ok Tedi as just a Papua New Guinean mining disaster. It’s one of the world’s great mining disasters. The worst part is that, after 30 years, all the heavy metal has now moved from the lower end of the food chain, and now people are now presenting cases of heavy metal poisoning. If this is what the mining industry has done to us already, why would we let it happen again? We are not anti-development, but with this approach they are developing us into extinction.

BHRRC: Please tell us about the company’s public consultation process and any due diligence enquiries by the company that you, or communities, have been involved in.

Our main concerns revolve around consultations. The company talks down to us, like we don’t know anything. They pretend to listen to our concerns and our fears and then just tell us what they want to do. We feel that that kind of consultation they do is very tokenistic.

The preface to the EIS report for the mine is one example of why we have concerns. It says:

Any party reviewing this EIS report should perform its own risk assessment and should not rely on this EIS report’s identification or characterisation of risks… In some instances, Frieda River Limited has relied on data and other information and advice supplied by third party organisations… Except where specifically stated, no independent verification of those sources has been undertaken and where any opinion is expressed in this EIS report it is based on the assumptions and limitations mentioned herein and is an expression of present understanding and opinion only. No warranties or representations can be made as to the origin, validity, accuracy, completeness, currency or reliability of the information… Frieda River Limited does not have any obligation to advise any person if it becomes aware of any inaccuracy in, or omission from, any forecast or to update such forecast.

Why would they even bother releasing a report with a preface like that? It is a report, but it doesn’t mean anything. They don’t want to be legally challenged. A lot of people will not have legal minds. These things will just fly through and then when they come to court cases, this will become the basis for their legal challenge. That’s scary.

There are so many things that are not right. When you put all of this together you can’t talk about informed consent. What’s worse is that when they’ve done this, PanAust claims they have consulted the community and therefore they have consent to mine. We’ve been reminding them that consultation is not consent completely—particularly given their lack of transparency.

BHRRC: What challenges have you faced in your work, how are you seeking to overcome them? What has worked well? What has hindered your ability to achieve your goals?

From 2016 until October 15 of this year, I had four death threats. In 2010, I had two gunshots fired at me in a public place, one hundred metres from a police station. I’m still sort of recovering. The threat of violence hangs over us constantly.

It’s hard to find people that really care and want to do this passionately. You want to be there 24 hours a day, but people have to attend to their families, their communities, making money for their survival. Despite all of that, and on top of the continuing threats of violence, I’ve got really amazing volunteers with Project Sepik who are really present because the Sepik River means so much to them. Project Sepik is really fortunate to have these volunteers. They go out and do the work dealing at times with extreme obstacles—the threat of violence on them especially.

We have collected signatures from just the upper area of the Sepik River—more than 6000. This collective action gives us a voice. Before 2016, before our group had grown, there was no popular resistance to mining. We were not recorded in reports or research, so our needs and interests went unnoticed. What were our questions and concerns? Who knows? Our greatest frustration is with the company knowing that the people already say no. Why do they continue? What part of no means no to them?

You recently visited Australia to engage with the company. Tell us about this and what was achieved.

When I met with officers of PanAust I said, what part of no do you not understand? And I’m not just saying no, now here for me but when I say no, I represent everyone. I’m saying no today, just like people in the Sepik region have been saying no continuously. I asked the people at PanAust, where do you draw the line and say okay, the community response is definitely no? Nobody seemed to have any answer. I don’t know how they could not see it as a human rights violation where we say no and they’re still proceeding.

What positive goals are you trying to achieve in terms of mining operations along the Sepik River?

The volunteers with Project Sepik continue to build awareness and collect signatures for the petition. I think one of the best achievements of Project Sepik has been getting an audience amongst scientists, professionals and development specialists in Port Moresby—people in more of a position to influence attitudes and policy. They have a group and are drafting a position paper. Our position is that we will not participate in further consultations along the Sepik River unless the mining proposals change.

Our new task is to support the people to recover cultural traditions that can be empowering for local communities based on stated and unstated expectations, shared obligations and reciprocity where sharing of wealth, rather than private accumulation, was the emphasis. We’ll be looking to use different cultural strategies to say no and to continue to protect our river.

What needs to happen in your opinion for the human rights and environmental issues that you are working on in the Sepik River to be successfully resolved by PanAust?

The people of Sepik River are not going to meet PanAust halfway. The people are not going to sit and listen quietly to PanAust, while the company tells them what PanAust plans to do. PanAust needs to listen to the people of the Sepik River. If they don’t, the mine will destroy the Sepik River, and it will destroy our lives along with it.

What can be done by those reading this interview; is there any way in which the international community can help?

Australians can put pressure on their government to ask why a government-sponsored company of China is registered in the ASX, why PanAust can operate from Australia to destroy the Sepik River. Operating out of Australia, PanAust will be seen as an Australian company. What does that do for Australia’s reputation? What happens to that ‘Made in Australia’ brand? The destruction of our rivers and our life—made in Australia?

What are your key messages for advocates working on business and human rights issues in the Pacific – what are the key opportunities for bringing about change?

The Pacific, our oceans, the ocean floors, leftover rainforests and fresh systems and ecosystems are one of the last places where the rest of the world is going to in the race for resources. My message to the people of the Pacific is that we should stand together to defend ourselves from this mad rush. We should exercise our voices and act in solidarity, as one, not just for what the problems we face mean to us in our locality, but also for what these problems mean to the Pacific as a whole—for our Pacific families and our Pacific home.

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Geologist killed in North Bougainville – govt

Momis: “The company has miserably failed to address its social issues and to fulfil its corporate social responsibility”

Radio New Zealand | 17 December 2019

A geologist has been killed in Bougainville by what the autonomous Papua New Guinea region’s president describes as a group of “criminal thugs”.

The victim, Terry Win Kilya, from Enga Province was an employee of Kalia/Toremana Joint Venture Limited, which has been conducting mineral exploration in a disputed area.

A statement on the death of its employee by the ASX-listed Kalia Group Limited said the geologist “received fatal injuries in a fall whilst undertaking field work on the company’s Mt Tore tenements around mid-day yesterday (Monday)”.

But Bougainville’s President John Momis has linked the death to criminal elements in an area where tensions exist due to unresolved social problems related to the mining exploration work.

He said it was deeply regrettable that a talented and experienced geologist, who came to the region to share his skills and expertise, had been killed.

“Bougainvilleans have spoken in the referendum vote that we want to be liberated and free to charter our new path ahead, but this sort of unnecessary incident is disheartening,” Mr Momis said in a statement.

Mr Momis extended an apology and his condolences to Mr Kilya’s family and the people of Enga Province on behalf of the people and government of Bougainville.

Bougainville President John Momis Photo: supplied

A reconciliation payment or ‘bel kol’ of $US28,633 has been paid to the victim’s family to help with funeral arrangements.

“In our Melanesian way and culture, we want to truly say sorry to the people of Enga and the family of the late Terry Win Kilya by extending our ‘bel kol’ assistance to late Terry’s family,” he said.

In its statement, Kalia said it was working with local police and officers of the Department of Minerals and Energy Resources “to determine the full circumstances relating to the incident”. The company did not mention an attack or criminal elements in its statement.

However, Mr Momis has expressed disgust at the employer for allowing its personnel to venture into the area where the incident occurred, knowing full well that there were criminal elements resisting exploration there.

Mr Momis had ordered the indefinite suspension of the company’s exploration licence and called for it to explain why such an avoidable tragedy was allowed to occur.

“The company has miserably failed to address its social issues and to fulfil its corporate social responsibility as a client of the ABG,” he said.

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Geopacific launches Woodlark construction

Construction has started at the Woodlark gold project. Image: Geopacific Resources.

Salomae Haselgrove | Australian Mining | December 16, 2019

Geopacific Resources has started construction at the Woodlark gold project in the Milne Bay province of Papua New Guinea.

Following a successful $40 million capital raising announced in October, the first design work has begun in preparation for process plant construction.

The work will include road upgrades, new wharf construction, process plant site clearing, Kulumadau Village relocation and Woodlark mine camp upgrades.

Once upgraded, the mine camp will be able to accommodate an additional 250 people.

The civil earthmoving will be completed by HBS Machinery while international project manager Rhodes Projects will build house and village amenities.

Geopacific Resources managing director Ron Heeks said the company was excited to begin construction activities in such a short timeframe since the capital raising.

“Extensive work was undertaken to achieve this commencement date as we aim to deliver gold production in a safe, timely and cost-efficient manner,” Heeks said.

“Geopacific has made a commitment to engage as many Woodlark residents as possible for all aspects of the project, including the Kulumadau relocation.

“This is expected to create a skills transfer and sense of community ownership of the new village and they are excited to see the benefits of skills training, employment opportunities, health and education as a result of Woodlark’s advancement.”

The village will be relocated a short distance to new areas outside the mining lease selected by the residents. New houses, trade stores, churches, schools and other amenities will be built.

With tranche two of the $40 million placement approved, Geopacific’s issued capital share consolidation is under way, converting every 25 shares into one share.

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