Category Archives: Corruption

ABG Chief Secretary petitioned to vacate office

Eric Tamaan & Luke Lalu | NBC News via PNG Facts | 16 August 2017

The Chief Secretary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Joseph Nobetau has been given 48 hours by the North Bougainville Ex-Combatants, to resign and vacate the office.

This notice was given yesterday and was amongst their demands in a 3-page-signed-petition presented through an ABG official because Mr Nobetau was not present.

According to NBC News,  their protest was over the conduct of the ABG Chief Secretary, citing instability caused by biased decisions portraying nepotism and regionalism.

The ABG Chief Auditor, Peter Tsiperau, has also been given 48 hours to produce overdue audit reports on funds spent in the name of development projects, some of which have never got off the ground.

The ex-combatants are demanding that these audit reports be presented to the Ombudsman Commission, on Friday August 18.

ABG President, John Momis is aware of the move taken by the ex-combatants.

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Solomon Islands NGO itok PM imas rausim pastem Mines Minista

Solomon Islands coat of arms on Parliament buildings in Honiara Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Caroline Tiriman | ABC Radio Australia | 19 July 2017

Forum Solomon Islands International i mekim despla askim bihaenim miting namel long Mines minista na Buaxite  Mining siaman

Odio: President blong Forum Solomon Islands International Benjamin Afuga itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

President blong Forum Solomon Islands International em i laikim Prime Minista Manasseh Sogavare long rausim pastem minista blong mines na mekim investigation long wanpla miting em minista ibin holim wantem siaman blong Asia Pacific Investment development we emi owner blong Bauxite mine long RenBel Provins.

Benjamin Afuga i mekim despla toktok bihaen long wanpla video i kamap long social media long wik igo pinis we i soim Minister David Dei Pacha ibin bungim Mr  Ray Set Fah Chu blong Asia Pacific Investment development long wanpla car park long Honiara.

Emi tok wanpla man ibin kisim despla video long mun April iet, tasol oli bin putim long social media, na ol narapla midia long last week na emi wok long kamapim planti toktok tumas long kantri.

Mr Afuga itok tu olsem planti pipal long kantri i wari tru long despla Bauxite mining kampani  long wonem gavman ibin soim olsem em bai larim kampani ino ken baem tax taem emi salim bauxite igo long ol narapla kantri.

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Solomons minister allegedly filmed in secret meeting

Photo: supplied A screenshot of video footage reportedly showing the secret meeting

LOOP PNG | 19 July, 2017

The Solomon Islands opposition says it has obtained video footage of a secret meeting between the minister of mines and energy and a controversial foreign miner in a hotel carpark.

The video in question was also published on the youtube account Delton Teorongo with the description,“Is this how the new Solomon Islands Minerals Policy is going to be administered?”

The meeting is said to have taken place late on the night of April 21 at the Heritage Hotel.

The footage shows the minister, David Day Pacha’s vehicle, an SUV with registered plate number G- 3903, arriving at the carpark around 10:40pm.

A few minutes later, a man believed to be the chairman of Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID), Ray Set Fah Chu, was seen walking down the stairs and into the minister’s vehicle.

The car park meeting lasted for around 10 minutes before the man was seen exiting the car and going back inside the hotel.

In a statement, the opposition said it strongly denounced the meeting and called on the minister to explain why he met Mr Chu.

It said the meeting was highly suspicious as two months earlier the prime minister and the mines minister were caught in a text message exchange with the same miner.

The leaked text messages showed the prime minister granting zero duty to Bintan Mining Company, a subsidiary of APID, to export bauxite from West Rennell.

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Experimental Seabed Mining and the Controversial Solwara 1 Project in Papua New Guinea

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign is a collaboration of organizations and citizens from Papua New Guinea, Australia and Canada concerned with the likely impacts of deep sea mining on marine and coastal ecosystems and communities.

Peter Neill – Director, World Ocean Observatory | Huffington Post | July 11, 2017

It has been some time since we’ve reflected on the issue of deep sea mining — the search for minerals of all types on the ocean floor. We have seen already how marine resources are being over-exploited — over-fishing by international fisheries being the most egregious example, mining for sand for construction projects and the creation of artificial islands, the exploitation of coral reefs and certain marine species for medical innovations and the next cure for human diseases based on understanding and synthesis of how such organisms function.

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign, an organization based in Australia and Canada, has been following the saga of Solwara 1, proposed by Nautilus Inc. for offshore Papua New Guinea that continues to seek financing year after year since 2011. The project is basically a kind of corporate speculation premised on the lucrative idea of the availability of such minerals conceptually in the region — indeed the company has declined to conduct a preliminary economic study or environmental risk assessment, the shareholders essentially engaged in a long odds probability wager comparable to those who invested in marine salvagers attempts to find and excavate “pay-ships” lost at sea with purported vast cargos of silver and gold. The idea that they should be required to justify their endeavors to governments, third-world or otherwise, or to coastwise populations whose livelihood and lives depend on a healthy ocean from which they have harvested for centuries, is anathema.

Deep Sea Mining recently reported on the recent Nautilus Annual General Meeting where CEO Michael Johnston was asked:

· Is it true that without the normal economic and feasibility studies, the economic viability of Solwara 1 is unknown?

· Is it true that the risk to shareholders of losing their entire investment in Nautilus is high and the potential returns promoted by Nautilus are entirely speculative?

· Is this why Nautilus is struggling to obtain the investment to complete the construction of its vessel and equipment?

According to the release, Johnston declined to have his responses recorded and evaded providing clear answers. He did, however, affirm the description accuracy of the Solwara 1 project in the Annual Information Forms as a ‘high’ and ‘significant’ risk.

Local communities are also not interested in the Nautilus experiment. In recent weeks, two large forums against the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in the Bismarck Sea have been held in New Ireland and East New Britain provinces of Papua New Guinea. Supported by the Catholic Bishops and Caritas Papua New Guinea , both forums called for the halt of the Solwara 1 project and a complete ban on seabed mining in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. Here are some comments from those meetings:

Patrick Kitaun, Caritas PNG Coordinator:

“The Bismarck Sea is not a Laboratory for the world to experiment with seabed mining. Our ocean is our life! We get all our basics from the ocean so we need to protect it. We will not allow experimental seabed mining in Papua New Guinea. It must be stopped and banned for good.”

Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors:

“Nautilus, we are not guinea pigs for your mining experiment! We in the Pacific are custodians of the world’s largest ocean. These oceans are important to us as sources of food and livelihoods. They are vital for our culture and our very identity. In New Ireland Province, we are only 25 km away from the Solwara 1 site. It is right in the middle of our traditional fishing grounds. We will stand up for our rights!”

Vicar General, Father Vincent Takin of the Diocese of Kavieng:

“In order, for any development to take place, the people must be the object of development and not subject to it. The people have not been fully informed about the impacts of Solwara 1 on the social, cultural, physical and spiritual aspects of their lives. Therefore they cannot give their consent.”

Nautilus Inc. does not appear to be major international energy company with the assets available to force this project forward as others might. The opposition is well organized and vocal with arguments and expectations that the company cannot overcome. We hope. As with offshore oil exploration alongshore and it the deep ocean, this project is isolated in an opposing political context and shifting market. It is not for this time, for these people in these places, who have no concern for the loss of the `stranded assets of invisible gamblers in the face of the gain of conserving and sustaining their ocean resources for local benefit and the future.

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Pacific Bauxite accused of tricking Solomon Islanders over mining rights

Tomoto Neo, Nendo, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands. A bauxite mining proposal has divided the small island community. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The Australian mining company denies any impropriety and says landowners are keen to find out if there are mineral resources on their land

Ben Doherty | The Guardian | 6 July 2017

An Australian mining company is embroiled in a standoff with landowners in the Solomon Islands over allegations it coerced, bullied and tricked communities into signing over prospecting rights to their land.

A government has been overthrown and local landowners have taken to blocking the roads with stones, and even reportedly confronting miners with bows and arrows, to thwart prospecting on their island of Nendo, in Temotu, the easternmost province of the Solomon Islands.

The miner Pacific Bauxite denied any allegations of impropriety and said it had worked in close consultation with landowners who overwhelmingly supported their work. So far it has engaged only in hand-augered prospecting.

“Landowners are also very keen to determine the potential for minerals resources on their land,” it said. “Prospecting provides landowners with a free evaluation of their land while not committing to mining.”

The company’s application to prospect had divided the Nendo community, a former Solomon Islands governor general has said.

Several Nendo residents have said dozens of landowners across the island had withdrawn their authorisation for Pacific Bauxite to prospect on their land.

The company said it was not aware of any landowners withdrawing their consent and that it remained committed to consulting with all owners.

Some Nendo landowners have said they were not properly told about the environmental impact of mining, and others claimed they were coerced into signing, told to sign blank pieces of paper, or had their signatures forged.

Ruddy Oti, a Temotu landowner and legal adviser to the Temotu Conservation and Sustainable Development Association, told the Guardian many people on the island felt they had been manipulated into signing surface access agreements for the company on their land.

“There was no proper consultation, people were not informed about the potential impacts on their land,” Oti said.

“People were asked to sign blank pieces of paper and those signatures were collected and used to say these landowners have agreed to have prospecting on their land. They did not agree.

“Some signatures were forged. When I went to see those people, they said they had not agreed.

“And some landowners said they felt pressured to agree, or that they weren’t told about the impact upon their land. Those people have now written sworn affidavits to revoke their consent.”

Oti said landowners were resolute in their opposition, having seen the damage of logging on other parts of the island. Some villages have reportedly put roadblocks up to stop miners’ access or threatened vehicles with bows and arrows.

A video clip posted online shows some of the community resistance to bauxite mining on Nendo.

The short clip, shot on a phone, shows a group of primary school students and adults in the village of Noipe on Nendo blocking the road and not allowing a Pacific Bauxite vehicle to pass.

Mark Gwynne, the executive director of Pacific Bauxite, tells the group – most of the children are holding signs in protest – the company is engaged in “good, ethical mining”.

“There is good mining, and there is bad mining, and I have witnessed a lot of bad mining,” he says. “We work really hard with communities. We reach agreements with communities for good mining. We do everything we can to protect the land, the villages, the people. We provide education for the children, we provide training for the adults for working. Can I show you some photos?”

He is told by one man from the village:

“Excuse me. We don’t need photos.

“Just stop everything. We don’t need mining and we don’t need prospecting. That’s all. The land is our heritage and our future for young generations.”

The standoff ends politely and without incident.

Brett Smith, the director of Pacific Bauxite, told the Guardian that at this stage the company had only completed reconnaissance prospecting and that no landowners were compelled to allow mining.

The Solomon Islands. Mining has a damaged reputation in Nendo after logging and mining on Rennell Island, on the south-western edge of the Solomons archipelago. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“The results from this are highly encouraging and warrant further work to determine the potential for mineable resources,” he said.

“We are hoping that the bauxite deposits at Nendo provide the potential for a long-term industry that will result in the generation of beneficial sustainable businesses for the people of the Temotu province.”

Smith said Pacific Bauxite had a strong commitment to the environment and the community on Nendo, in particular around health, education and future sustainable economic development.

“To date, the company has provided much needed medical equipment to the Lata hospital and donated equipment to several schools. This community support will continue while the company is working at Nendo.

“The company also has a policy of providing employment opportunities for the local community. Expatriate workers are kept to a minimum to allow maximum benefit and training to local people. In the event that mining takes place in the future, the company intends constructing a training facility to Australian standards. That will have the capacity to provide skilled employees from the local community.”

Smith said mining on Nendo would have the smallest possible footprint and minimise the environmental impact.

“Rehabilitation will focus on returning a large majority of affected land to its former condition, while small areas will be considered for future beneficial businesses which will be fully owned by the local community.”

He said the company was being discredited by a small group that had misinformed the community.

Solomon Islands’ director of mines, Thomas Toba, said officials from his department considered several objections to mining on Nendo before granting the prospecting licence. Department officials have travelled to Nendo to speak to concerned landowners.

Toba recently launched the Solomon Islands’ new national minerals policy, which established a legal framework for minerals extraction, something the country had not had previously.

“Another thing is people will realise that resource owners have a part to play in this; they have a voice in this industry compared to the past when they can only participate through signing of surface access agreements,” he said.

While some landowners say they are resolutely opposed to mining, others argue it will bring development to the most remote region of the Solomons archipelago, often overlooked by the central government in Honiara.

Father Brown Beu, a former provincial premier, said that Pacific Bauxite prospecting would bring educational and health facilities to the province.

“We trust this company,” Father Beu told a radio interview. “Unlike other investors who are invested in Temotu province, the AU Mining[50% owned by Pacific Bauxite] will shortly after this be able to provide medical facilities that we will never – I don’t know, for centuries to come – never have.”

But the penultimate premier of Temotu province, Nelson Omar, who was overthrown in March, believes he was ousted because of his resistance to business licences for miners and loggers in Nendo.

Omar’s government had refused to grant a business licence to Pacific Bauxite. In March he was defeated in a sudden vote of no confidence. Within a week, a business licence was granted by the new government to Pacific Bauxite.

Omar said he warned the Temotu assembly that his refusal to grant the licence – and another logging licence to an unrelated company – were the bases for efforts to remove him.

“In fact it did happen. Days after the closure of the assembly, the licence was granted in an urgent executive meeting, exactly as I predicted,” he said. “The consent from the resource owners, the landowners, how it was conducted, was not done in accordance with existing legislations which govern the mining and logging acts.”

A traditional ceremony in Nendo. The great majority of locals do not want the mine, says former governor general Father Sir John Ini Lapli. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The former Solomon Islands governor general, Father Sir John Ini Lapli, said the possibility of mining had divided families and tribes.

“The great majority of people do not want this,” he told Radio New Zealand. “Just the few that … are working with [the miner]. And there is a real possibility for clashes between the landowners, tribal groups, even relatives themselves if the government is not clear cut about how to deal with this.”

Lapli said the people of Temotu felt their wishes had been ignored in the central government’s decision to issue a prospecting licence. He said the land belonged to the people, not the government.

“They came with some agent unknown, they didn’t come through the procedure, and so they were able to pay some people to sign accepting this proposal they signed up and that is how they locked [in] these landowners.”

Mining has a damaged reputation in Nendo after logging and mining on Rennell Island, on the south-western edge of the Solomons archipelago.

The mining, by Bintan Mining, was initially undertaken with an illegally granted mining licence and has left the island with widespread environmental damage and little development. A video, Ripples in Rennells, by the environmental advocacy organisation OceansWatch has been played widely across Nendo.

Pacific Bauxite was formerly Iron Mountain. Pacific Bauxite bought a 50% stake in AU Capital Mining, which was the original holder of the prospecting licence from the Solomon Islands Mines and Minerals Board.

Pacific Bauxite’s website says of the Nendo project:

“The company is extensively engaged with the local community and is ensuring that all stakeholders are made fully aware of current and future activities regarding the project. To this end, meetings held with local parties to date have been extremely positive and much enthusiasm has been generated by the recent phase of exploration.”

It says the company’s initial auger drilling and pit sampling had confirmed “extensive large-scale bauxite deposits” on the island.

The main area earmarked for mining is approximately 12km by 2km (24 square kilometres) but that is expected to grow.

“Identified areas of mineralisation are significantly larger than historically defined,” the company said.

Bauxite is the principal ore in aluminium and is also used to make refractory materials, chemicals and cements. Australia is the world’s largest producer of bauxite.

Bauxite deposits are found in tropical and subtropical areas, in deeply weathered volcanic rock, which make up many islands in the Solomon Islands archipelago.

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Weak capacity and lack of accountability leaves mining sector ‘open for corruption’

Policy implementation in sector a challenge: Report

Loop PNG | 4 July, 2017

Implementing legislations and policies in the mining and petroleum sector is a challenge due to weak capacity and lack of accountability, points out a report.

The PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Report 2014 says:

“While the Government sets strong policy and has a relatively robust legislative regime and fiscal control, implementation is challenging due to weak capacity and a lack of accountability, particularly at local levels. The associated lack of transparency also leaves the way open for corruption.

“The principal laws that regulate mining activities in PNG are the Mining Act 1992 (MA), which sets out how mining projects should be administered and regulated, and the Mining (Safety) Act 1977, which stipulates safety requirements on mine sites, provides for investigations and inquiries into mine accidents and establishes a regime for certification of prescribed mining roles” the report said.  

The report noted that a revised MA will be presented to Parliament after 2017 election.

“It is anticipated this will include regulations for offshore mining, mine closure and rehabilitation, resettlement and geothermal resources and standards for employing mine workers. The Mining (Safety) Act is also under review,” it said.  

Matters relating to the environment within mining and exploration tenements is governed by the Environment Act 2000. The operation and development of mineral deposits in relation to the Ok Tedi mine is governed by the Mining (Ok Tedi Agreement) Act 1976 and the fourteen supplemental agreement Acts.

The Panguna mine on Bougainville is governed by the Mining (Bougainville Copper Agreement) Act 1967, although mining legislation for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has now been passed.

“The relationship between those respective pieces of legislation is unclear as the former has not been repealed, nor have the references to it in the MA been amended,” it said.

The reports stated, the petroleum industry is governed by the Oil and Gas Act 1998 (OGA) and the Oil and Gas Regulation 2002 under the administration and management of the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE), headed by the Minister for Petroleum and Energy.

“The OGA specifies regulatory instruments for oil and gas development activities such as: Licensing, exploration, development, processing, storage, transportation, and sale of products.”

PNG EITI Head of National Secretariat, Lucas Alkan, said: “It is only fitting to have such a robust legislative and policy framework for a resource rich country like ours.

“The PNGEITI has already capitalised on such fiscal and legislative setting, in advancing transparency and accountability in the sector, through its annual reports and we hope to build on that progress.

“We are also of the view that there are upcoming legislations and policies to keep Papua New Guinea in par with world best mining and petroleum practices,” Alkan added.

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EITI to tackle mining industry links to money laundering, transfer pricing, corruption and tax evasion

Mining Companies Will Have Be Transparent About Owners

EITI: “The lack of transparency in this area often creates an environment for other illegal activities such as money laundering and transfer pricing. This affects other sectors of the economy and often create a conducive environment for corruption and tax evasion” 

Post Courier | July 4, 2017

Companies directly involved in the petroleum and mining sectors will be required to disclose information regarding their beneficial owners come 2020.

Beneficial owner(s) of resource projects (mine, oil and gas companies) refers to the natural person(s) who directly or indirectly owns or controls a corporate entity/ company.

This follows after a signing of contract between PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI) National Secretariat and KPMG yesterday.

KPMG is the successful bidder for the implementation of the Beneficial Ownership Roadmap that spells out how Papua New Guinea can develop a matrix to report beneficial owners.

The implementation of the roadmap was effected yesterday and will be rolled out until the final quarter of 2019. During this time a platform or matrix will have been developed for reporting -through the EITI reporting process in 2020.

Head of the PNG Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative National Secretariat Mr Lucas Alkan said it was the decision of EITI international board.

It wants all EITI implementing countries, including Papua New Guinea, to ensure that corporate entities that bid for, operate or invest in extractive assets disclose the identities of their beneficial owners by January 1, 2020.

Mr Alkan said this was done to identify the real owners of the companies who had acquired rights to extract oil, gas and minerals which, in many cases were not known and often hidden behind a chain of corporate entities.

“The lack of transparency in this area often creates an environment for other illegal activities such as money laundering and transfer pricing. This affects other sectors of the economy and often create a conducive environment for corruption and tax evasion,” Mr Alkan said.

He said people living in resource-rich countries such as Papua New Guinea risked losing out as revenues generated from resources exploitation in the extractive industry were often misallocated and wasted.

“The EITI requirement will ensure that beneficial ownership information is made available through public registers such as those collected and stored at the Investment Promotion Authority through company registration process,” Mr Alkan said.

Mr Alkan expressed confidence working with KPMG to successfully implement the roadmap.

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