Monthly Archives: March 2020

Group wants deep-sea mine permit, licence cancelled

The National aka The Loggers Times | March 16, 2020

A GROUP of people concerned about the implications of deep-sea mining wants the Government to cancel the environment permit and mining licence granted to Nautilus Minerals Niugini Ltd.

The group is led by Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Peter Bosip, the director for the Centre of Environmental Law and Community Rights, Marie Mondu, the development secretary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands, and Cardinal Sir John Ribat, the Archbishop of Port Moresby, in association with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Coffee Industry support project, Caritas and the Social Communication of CBC PNGSI.

Mesulam said there was a lot of debate and opposition to the project since 2011 and with the project being declared “a failed project” the goal was achieved and asked the Government to go further and cancel its mining and exploration licence.

“The Solwara 1 Project has been declared a failed project in a public statement by the managing director of Mineral Resources Authority Jerry Garry in The National of Jan 24, 2020,” he said.

“The mining licence was given in 2011 and there is no mining, why is the company still holding onto the licence?

“The Government has to cancel the licence before the end of this year,” Mesulam said.

“As stewards of the sea and future, we are now giving notice to the responsible ministers to cancel the seabed mining licence ML154.”

Bosip said the deep-sea mining in PNG was the first of its kind in the world and “we do not know the negative impacts of it”.

“We do not know the best method of mitigating its negative impacts that will arise, we are not prepared to face the negative impact of deep-sea mining.”

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Wafi-Golpu Negotiations Have Not Recommenced – Newcrest

Matthew Vari| Post Courier | March 16, 2020

NEGOTIATIONS into Morobe’s Wafi-Golpu project is still pending according to project joint venture partner Newcrest Mining Limited.

Newcrest Mining PNG country manager Mr Stanley Komunt said this in response this paper queries in relation to comments made by Mining Minister Johnson Tuke last month on government’s intention to resumes negotiation following the dismissal of the memorandum of understanding in court case relating to the project.

Mr Komunt said the main reason for uncertainty was the relays [sic] in the proposed revised mining act, which is still yet to be passed by government and  how concerns raised may be factored into the amended act.

“We from the JV’s point of view have not made a commitment as yet to progress any discussions.

“There is a couple of reasons why and number one is more to do with the current discussions on the revised mining bill.

“We really don’t know where that is going to end. Whilst the Prime Minister has given us, the industry and SNT (State Negotiating Team) team to go and back and since our meeting in January 17 in Brisbane.

“He has given us two months and we have been meeting last month now and we are slowly getting there but there is still some major, not so much disagreement, but misalignment I would say,” Mr Komunt pointed out.

Komunt pointed out other particulars also in the air such as benefit sharing, royalty and contracts have all been relayed to the minister responsible for mining.

“Whilst we appreciate, the company, not only us but the industry appreciates that country needs to get a better share and we want to make sure that is realized through the negotiations that we will have.

“We are not quite there yet to start the negotiations for Wafi. We have relayed that to the minister.

“Because if the revised mining act changes it will have an impact on the project economics and how we have done our planning and that is a major concern and we can’t do anything.

Prime Minister Marape has indicated his government is set on delivering the project, a point Komunt added the PM is well aware and supportive of an understanding going forward.

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PNG transfers remaining BCL shares

Carmella Gware | Loop PNG | March 13, 2020

The PNG Government has fully transferred its entire 36.4 percent share in the Bougainville Copper Ltd to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

This was one of the resolutions reached during the first, and possibly the final, post-referendum Joint Supervisory Body meeting held on Thursday, the 12th of March, at Port Moresby’s APEC Haus.

It was the first Joint Supervisory Body, or JSB, meeting to be held since the referendum last year. It is also the last JSB as its name has been changed to Joint Consultative Body, and this body will continue to provide oversight to the post referendum consultation processes.

During the JSB, teams from the PNG and Autonomous Bougainville governments, including President John Momis and Prime Minister James Marape, sat together to decide a future for Bougainville.

The sixth out of the 13 agendas discussed and passed included the transfer of Bougainville Copper Ltd shares.

The JSB noted that in 2017, the National Executive Council made a decision for the National Government to transfer 17.4 percent from its 36.4 percent shares to the landowners of Panguna. Following that, on the 13th of December, 2019, at the joint announcement of the Bougainville Referendum results, Prime Minister Marape further announced that the National Government will transfer to ABG its remaining 19 percent of the BCL shares.

“This JSB affirmed that the entire shares of Bougainville Copper be passed to Bougainville Mining Ltd – the Bougainville Government and Bougainville people’s subsidiary company,” the PM, flanked by the ABG President and members of their technical teams, told media after a full day of meeting.

Rio Tinto and the ABG both own 36.4 percent each while public shareholders hold the remaining portion of the share capital.

Apart from BCL shares, the PNG Government has made it clear that the constitutional Restoration and Development Grant (RDG) will be given to support the budget on Bougainville while the National Planning Ministry has been directed to clearly define the K100 million commitment and report back in the next Joint Consultative Body meeting this year.

The JSB has also acknowledged and accepted the democratic choice of the Bougainville people for Independence.

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David Attenborough calls for ban on ‘devastating’ deep sea mining

 Deep sea corals provide habitat to a variety of organisms that could be destroyed by deep sea mining. Photograph: NOAA

Proposed mining of seabed could destroy unstudied ecosystems and disrupt vital carbon-storing functions, says naturalist

Karen McVeigh | The Guardian | 12 March 2020 

Sir David Attenborough has urged governments to ban deep sea mining, following a study warning of “potentially disastrous” risks to the ocean’s life-support systems if it goes ahead.

The study, by Fauna and Flora International (FFI), warns proposed plans to mine the seabed could cause significant loss of biodiversity, disruption of the ocean’s “biological pump”, and the loss of microbes important for storing carbon. The process, requiring machines operating thousands of metres under the sea, could also create plumes of sediment that smother areas far from the mining sites and kill wildlife.

Dozens of exploratory licences, two of which are sponsored by the UK, have already been granted for huge tracts of the sea bed, ahead of a race to mine commercially for ores and minerals such as copper, used in mobile phones and batteries. But the rules to govern the responsible exploitation of this global resource are not finalised – they are expected to be completed at a meeting in July at the UN International Seabed Authority.

Attenborough, the vice president of FFI, said deep sea mining could create a “devastating series of impacts” threatening processes critical to the health and function of the oceans, and called on governments to be guided by scientists.

“Fauna & Flora International is calling on global governments to put in place a moratorium on all deep sea mining – a call I wholeheartedly support,” Attenborough said.

In a foreword to the report, Attenborough said it was “beyond reason” for countries to consider the destruction of deep sea places before they have understood them or the role they play in the health of the planet.

Attenborough said: “The rush to mine this pristine and unexplored environment risks creating terrible impacts that cannot be reversed. We need to be guided by science when faced with decisions of such great environmental consequence.”

FFI warned that human activity was already putting a huge strain on the oceans, which have absorbed a third of our carbon emissions and 93% of the extra heat trapped by the rising concentration of greenhouse gases.

Oceans are becoming more acidic because of the carbon dioxide dissolving into them, fisheries are under pressure as a result of over-exploitation and there are hundreds of huge “dead zones”, it said.

Pippa Howard, director at FFI and lead author of the report, called for a moratorium on deep sea mining. She said: “The conclusions we have come to after extensive study could hardly be more troubling.

“From methane release to disruption of the ocean’s life-support systems and the destruction of unstudied ecosystems, the risks of deep sea mining are numerous and potentially disastrous.”

Louise Casson, of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign, said the UK government’s holding of exploration contracts for deep sea mining was at odds with its position as a “global ocean champion”.

Casson said: “The UK government now has a choice to make: listen to industry and press ahead with this dangerous new practice, or listen to scientific warnings, public concern and the creator of Blue Planet himself and ban deep sea mining.”

A government spokesman said: “The UK continues to press for the highest international environmental standards, including on deep sea mineral extraction.

“While we have sponsored two exploration licences, these allow only for marine research to understand the effects of deep sea mining.

“We will not issue a single exploitation licence without a full assessment of the environmental impact.”

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PNG production issues plague Newcrest

The Lihir gold mine in Papua New Guinea

Derek Rose | Australian Associated Press | March 11, 2020

Australia’s largest listed goldminer says it expects to produce around 10 per cent less gold than previously forecast due to underperformance of its mines in Papua New Guinea and Western Australia.

Newcrest Mining now only expects to produce 2.1 to 2.2 billion ounces of gold this financial year, down from a forecast of 2.38 to 2.54 billion ounces it made on January 30.

The goldminer said increased production at its Cadia mine in central-west NSW and Red Chris mine in British Columbia, Canada won’t be enough to outweigh shortfalls from its Telfer mine in WA and Lihir mine in PNG.

Lihir, located on an extinct but geothermically active volcanic crater on Aniolam Island 900km northeast from Port Moresby, is proving to be particularly difficult, Newcrest said.

“Lihir has been challenged by difficult mining and geothermal conditions, leading to a sub-optimal blend of ore feed to the plant,” Newcrest managing director and chief executive Sandeep Biswas said.

That lower grade material ore proved problematic to the mine’s material handling systems and flotation recovery, Newcrest said.

“Operating improvements planned at Lihir for the remainder of FY20 will be insufficient to address its shortfall in production.”

Newcrest also announced it had found a “pod” of high-grade mineralisation at its Havieron Project, 45km from its Telfer mine in WA.

Mr Biswas called the mineralisation “amongst the most impressive seen in recent memory” and said Newcrest was excited about mining it.

Newcrest said it would study the potential of Havieron into commercial production in about three or four years.

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Indigenous women in Philippines mark Women’s Day with protest dance against mining

TAYAW DANCE. Photo courtesy of Shar Balagtas and Susan Corpuz

More than 100 indigenous women and women’s rights advocates in Brgy. Didipio in Kasibu town dance the Tayaw to protest the mining operations of OceanaGold Philippines

Mavic Conde | Rappler | March 07, 2020

“Tayaw,” a traditional dance of the Tuwali tribe in Nueva Vizcaya, is about unity and the power to face threats against a community.

On Friday, March 6, more than 100 indigenous women and women’s rights advocates in Brgy. Didipio in Kasibu town in this province danced the Tayaw to protest the continuing mining operations of Australian-Canadian company OceanaGold Philippines, Inc (OGPI).

Among the Tuwali women who danced was Myrna Duyan, who called the action “a dance of our lives.”

With this dance, “What we are fighting for is our life and our children’s future. Mining has destroyed our way of living. They have destroyed our sources of food and water,” Duyan said.

“To mark International Women’s Day, we dance, we protest, and we say – no more mining. OGPI has to leave,” she said as the leader of the community organization, Bileg Dagiti Babbae (Power of Women).

According to LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), “the Tuwali women have led the movement against the destructive gold mining of OGPI for almost two decades. They now guard the picket-line in Sitio Verona, Brgy. Didipio where they maintain a round-the-clock schedule.”

LILAK added the community set up the barricade several months ago to prevent the entry of mining equipment following OGPI’s permit expiration. The women, armed only with placards and streamers bearing their calls to end mining, have successfully faced against ten-wheeler trucks and backhoes.

Expression of struggles, aspiration, and support

The “Tayaw” dance has 3 main movements, with each move representing unity, power, and freedom.

The women also held a “Gopa”, a Tuwali ceremonial chant that told the interwoven stories of their past and the future they are fighting for. The Gopa told the women’s decades-long struggle against mining and told a story of a future where they are finally freed from it.

The Tuwali women were joined by support organizations such as LILAK and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Didipio Earth Savers Multi-purpose Association Inc., (DESAMA), and Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (SAPAKMMI).

“As women, we understand the indescribable pain when you witness your land being destroyed and poisoned, the land where you come from – the land where you grow food,” said Mary Ann Forton, a member of LILAK and an Iraynon Bukidnon indigenous woman from Antique.

“As indigenous women, we are one with the Tuwali women in this fight for the land and against mining,” she added.

Strengthening the women’s movement

According to Judy Afan Pasimio of LILAK, joining the action of the Tuwali women for Women’s Day is staying true to its origin.

She said, “International Women’s Day has its roots from the march of thousands of women to demand their right to vote. More than a hundred years later and women are still fighting for their rights. It is important that we continue to strengthen the women’s movements as we fight for our rights and freedoms. On this day, we join the Tuwali women in their fight for their land and their life against OceanaGold.”

“We call on DENR (Department of Natural Resources) to cancel the mining permit of OGPI. They must never be granted another renewal of their mining license; else we allow another 25 years of destruction and violations of human and environment rights. Enough is enough,” said Caryl Pillora of ATM.

2018 report slams OceanaGold

Mining Watch Canada and the Institute for Policy Studies supported this call, as its 2018 report found “not only of lack of compliance, but also of unacceptable impacts of OceanaGold’s Didipio copper and gold mine on water, forests, land, indigenous peoples, human rights, biodiversity, and workers’ rights” because of the following:

  • No social license to operate, nor the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Indigenous Peoples in Didipio;
  • Depletion of groundwater;
  • Contamination of surface water;
  • Failure to comply with commitments made in a 2013 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the community;
  • Labor rights; and
  • Security/Red-tagging.

In a separate statement in 2018, Mining Watch Canada said OceanaGold’s November 2018 response to their report “does not address, let alone refute, the critical findings in our October 31 report: OceanaGold in the Philippines: Ten Violations that Should Prompt Its Removal.”

Mining Watch Canada’s secondary statement thus reiterated calls by local affected community members, including indigenous Ifugao peoples and the provincial and national organizations that support them, for the president and the DENR secretary to act on OceanaGold’s mining license. (READ: Environment group hits Oceanagold for operating without gov’t contract)

“OceanaGold’s 25-year mining license ends in June 2019. The Philippine government can – and should – deny the mining company’s request for a renewal. So too should OceanaGold’s requests for new exploration permits in the Philippines be denied,” it said.

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Alluvial Sector Revenue at K550m in 2019

Patrick Tom | Post Courier |  March 9, 2020

The country’s alluvial sector production and revenue has climbed to K550 million in 2019, an increase of K140 million from what it earned in 2018.

Mineral Resource Authority regulatory operations manager Roger Gunson revealed during the launching of the Reducing Mercury in PNG ASGM sector last Friday that last year the country’s alluvial sector generates revenue of K550 million, and produced 120,000 OZ (ounces) of gold.

When put that in perspective that’s similar to a medium size mine like Simbari mine in New Ireland.

Mr Gunson said gold represents 70 per cent of mineral revenue, adding that current the gold price as of last Friday was at almost US$1670 an ounce filtering with historic highs.

“The high gold price is beneficial for PNG and the alluvial sector,” he said.

“For every US$100 increase in the gold price, our mineral revenue increases by over K650 million,” said Mr Gunson.

He said that provides some perspective on the significance of gold to our economy.

“From the grassroots miners working the rivers and streams boost their rural household income, through to the national government collecting taxes.”

“The sector is one of the largest small and medium enterprise directly benefits those communities that involve in alluvial gold mining,” said Mr Gunson.

He also pointed out that PNG alluvial sector has a significant component of the overall mining industry of Papua New Guinea.

It has been operating since 1881.

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