Category Archives: Environmental impact

Coal plant proposal for PNG city a poor option – NGO

Lae, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI/ Johnny Blades

Radio New Zealand | 19 September, 2017 

A proposal for a coal-fired power plant in Lae is a poor economic and environmental option, according to an anti-coal group in Papua New Guinea.

The proposal by Mayur Resources to build a plant on the Lae Tidal Basin has lingered for a couple of years, but failed to get a purchase agreement from PNG Power.

However Mayur had approval from PNG Ports through its re-development of Lae’s important port area.

But Chris Lahberger from Nogat Coal PNG said the government knew that a coal plant was not an efficient way to generate energy.

“But it just looks awful as well, as PNG is a signatory to the Paris (Climate) Agreement to go one hundred percent renewable, and a coal mine with a forty year life span,” Mr Lahberger said.

“Mayur are now suggesting that the life span of this coal plant to be fifteen years. But the economics of that just doesn’t stack up. Like you would not make your money back from your investment if you ran it for just fifteen years.”

Mr Lahberger said renewable energy was a better alternative.

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Canadian First Nations reject mining proposal after conducting their own intensive review

The proposed location at Pípsell is a sacred, culturally and historically important site to the First Nations. Photo: Wilderness Committee

Could this be a model for communities in Papua New Guinea? 

Rather than relying on mining company propaganda, lets do our own independent assessments of mining proposals…

KGHM Ajax Mining Inc. wants to build the Ajax open-pit copper and gold mine near the city of Kamloops, British Columbia in Canada

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The Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) representing the First Nation communities in the area conducted their own thorough 18-month review of the project and have said NO to the Ajax mine project.

The SSN reviewed 20,000 pages of information and over 300 reports. They held a public comment period and heard from over 80 experts at an oral panel hearing.

From what they learned the SSN determined that the project is too risky for the health and well-being of the Secwepemc and everyone else.

The federal government has committed to a fairer environmental assessment process and to respecting the rights and title of Indigenous Peoples. Will they honour that commitment and reject the Ajax mine for good?

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We are being softened up for the re-opening of Panguna mine

Panguna mine – now back in play

Leonard Fong Roka | PNG Attitude | 15 September 2017

PANGUNA – There is a lot happening in central Bougainville around the now derelict Panguna mine.

Two local groups, with external financial backing, are engaged in awareness programs – campaigning if you like – for re-opening the mine that operated for about 20 years until hostilities closed it in 1989.

Thence followed the loss of some 10-15,000 Bougainvillean lives and millions and millions of kina worth of damage to assets and property.

Both of these groups on the make are yet to explain to us who suffered directly in the 10 year civil war how this ‘awareness’ or ‘campaigning’ for the re-opening of the mine will affect us and what our role may be.

The English word ‘awareness’ (Concise Oxford 11th Edition) is defined as ‘having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact’ while campaign has two meanings: the military definition which I’ll ignore and the other – ‘an organised course of action to achieve a goal’.

Last Monday I sent a text message to Bougainville Copper Ltd manager Justin Rogers, who was about to board a plane from Buka to Port Moresby. The missive was about mine-related activities in Central Bougainville, especially about the mine re-opening which is being pushed aggressively by the leaders of both the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Panguna New Generation Leaders (PNGL).

Mr Rogers’ reply said:

“The issue at the moment is interests in mineral rights. Our interest is to start a project to see if mining is viable. There is no mine until someone proves it is commercially and technically [viable].”

This communication shed some light that the current campaign to re-open the mine is a home-grown strategy devised by economically and financially uncreative leaders; a leadership that is not oriented to nation-building but blinded by a characteristic Third World dependency syndrome.

That is why the current themes being pushed down the throats of our poor people are, ‘no mining, no referendum’ and ‘no mining, no independence’.

It is clear to me that both the ABG and PNGL are campaigning for the re-opening of the mine.

I enquired of Mr Rogers why themes as ‘no mining, no referendum’ and ‘no mining, no independence’ were being promoted with BCL funding.

His response was simply:

“BCL hopes to come soon to Panguna and start delivering our own messages. Just letting mediation and MOU [memorandum of understanding] processes run their course first.”

So anxiety is being generated in the hearts and minds of the Bougainville people that the Bougainville referendum needs the Panguna mine and, if people vote ‘yes’ to independence that ‘yes’ will come to fruition only with the re-opening of Panguna mine.

This is the clear strategy of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and Panguna New Generation Leaders.

For us who live in and around Panguna, the ‘no mining, no referendum’ theme is unfounded. The referendum scheduled for 2019 will happen with or without mining in Panguna. It has been legislated for in the laws of PNG and Bougainville.

The fear triggered by ‘no mining, no independence’ is politically shortsighted.

If we vote for independence without a mine at Panguna and the result is upheld by PNG, our ‘yes’ will nullify all existing PNG laws that exploit the revenue we should be earning from our cocoa, copra, seaweed, sea cucumbers, alluvial gold and many other revenue sources.

These represent millions of dollars’ worth of income we never receive under the PNG state apparatus and their value measured against our population is more than the mine could generate after BCL and the PNG government get their shares.

Thus the callous activity of promoting the re-opening of the mine is a campaign and not an awareness program to educate the ordinary people of the Panguna, Bana and Kieta who have lost our land, jungle, rivers and more; and are considered by state and corporate interests as nobodies.

Let ABG, PNGL and BCL also tell us what they are doing to respect our Bougainvillean customs and traditional practices and what they will do to honour our lost relatives and property.

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Madagascar Farmers Confront Canadian Junior Mining Company

The owner of this land asked DNI not to use his land but the company ignored his request and has continued to exploit his property.

Mine Watch Canada | 12 September, 2017

Farmers from Vohitsara in eastern Madagascar are demanding that DNI Metals Inc. cease operations on their land and compensate them for damage to their lands, crops, trees, and fish ponds that the company has acknowledged destroying without their consent and fair compensation.

Malagasy civil society organisations and media reports have confirmed that DNI Metals has undertaken drilling and trenching on the villagers’ land – in some cases without their agreement, while other farmers have signed agreements that provide vague and inadequate commitments from the company and do not meet basic standards of fairness.

The company had begun to undertake an inventory of damages jointly with Vohitsara villagers in July, but it was never completed. The company had previously done its own inventory, without the presence of the landowners or independent observers.

Villagers have also reported having been intimidated and harassed by DNI employees and by government officials when they sought to stop the unauthorized operations and to get fair compensation for damages they have suffered. On September 7, 2017, three villagers who had denounced DNI Metals’ activities and refused to sign agreements with the company were placed under house arrest by police (gendarmes), only to be released without charges on September 10.

“We are very concerned by these arrests, as well as reports that gendarmes are preventing local people from entering their own farms, where DNI Metals is actively working without permission,” said MiningWatch Canada spokesperson Jamie Kneen.

DNI Metals denies all of the alleged abuses and irregularities, and maintains that it has been exemplary in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.

“DNI Metals claims that it is adhering to the highest CSR standards. We are therefore calling on the company to keep its word and refrain from going onto people’s land without their permission, and to pay fair compensation for any damages,” said Kneen. “The company should not be operating without the appropriate agreements with landowners.”

Malagasy media have also reported that despite the company’s claims to have an exploitation permit, the Malagasy Ministry of Mines and Petroleum has confirmed that it only has an exploration permit. At the same time, Malagasy organisations, including Solidarité des Intervenants sur le Foncier/Sehatra lombonana ho an’ny Fananantany (SIF), report that the National Office of Environment has denied issuing an environmental authorisation for DNI Metals. Meanwhile, local people say they were not consulted regarding environmental and social impacts prior to the initiation of exploration activities.

While there are no legal requirements for Canadian corporations’ international operations under Canadian law, other than the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, Canada is party to a number of international instruments and conventions in respect of business and human rights, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the standard of Free, Prior, Informed Consent.

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2017 Bougainville Chocolate Festival

Post Courier | September 6, 2017

The 2017 Bougainville Chocolate Festival has officially begun. The Autonomous Bougainville Government Minister for Primary Industries, Marine Resources and Forestry Nicholas Darku and Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner Bronte Moules launched the two-day festival with a colourful and delicious ceremony in Arawa.

The event brings together cocoa farmers, chocolatiers, industry representatives and government officials to network and discuss market access, share improved farming and processing techniques. As well as sample the delicious chocolate made from Bougainville’s finest beans.

Minister Darku speaking at the opening ceremony said the festival is a culmination of efforts by the Bougainville Government and its stakeholders to revitalise the cocoa industry in Bougainville.

“The cocoa industry has significant and immediate growth potential for Bougainville. That’s why it makes sense to focus on rebuilding the industry to improve livelihoods of our people and at the same time, grow the economy,” Minister Darku said.

Ms Moules in her remarks commended the Autonomous Bougainville Government for its proactive efforts to boost the cocoa sector in Bougainville.

“We know that money from cocoa brings better health and education and more opportunities for Bougainvilleans. That’s why the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership, together with New Zealand, is working in Bougainville to help develop the cocoa value chain.

“Our partnership is working to improve the business environment and market access, increase production and quality and ultimately, put more money in the pockets of Bougainvillean farmers,” Ms Moules said.

The chocolate competition will again be a highlight at the festival this year. Farmers from throughout Bougainville have sent samples of their cocoa to Paradise Foods’ Queen Emma Chocolate Factory to be made into chocolate. A panel of local and international judges will then sample the chocolate before making a final decision on medal winners.

The Festival is an initiative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government led by the Department of Primary Industries in partnership with the Governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

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More groups join appeal against seabed mining in NZ

On August 20 more than 100 people went to Patea’s Mana Beach to protest against seabed mining.

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | September 4, 2017

After much discussion the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board has taken the unusual step of appealing against consent for seabed mining offshore from Patea, chairman Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu says.

This despite the Conservation Department it works with having made no submission on Trans-Tasman Resources’ application to mine iron-sand across 66 square kilometres in the South Taranaki Bight.

Having made no submission on the application, the department cannot appeal it. But the board did make a submission, opposing the consent, and can appeal.

It has been advised that there are points of law on which the consent can be appealed, and that they fall within the board’s conservation management functions.

The board will ask whether the consenting body, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), had the best available information to work from, whether it used the precautionary principle and whether the consent given falls within the scope of an adaptive management approach.

“It has also sought to clarify how the EPA should have taken into account the Resource Management Act and in particular the strong directives of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement,” Mr Puketapu said.

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has also appealed the consent. Chief executive Dion Tuuta said that it did so in support iwi of the area, and that seabed mining was an unproven industry and a risk to fisheries.

Taranaki iwi Ngāruahine borders Patea and Hawera iwi Ngāti Ruanui but is not appealing the consent. Its pou whakarae Will Edwards said it was completely opposed to the mining venture and would support other iwi in their fight against it.

“We will utilise different strategies at different points at different times. Not all of these are played out on Facebook, in court, or in front of cameras.”

Another five groups have filed appeals against the mining consent. They are Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining with Greenpeace in support, a fisheries group, Te Kāhui o Rauru and Forest & Bird.

The appeal period closed on Thursday and the appeals will be heard in the High Court.

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Five parties appeal NZ seabed mining decision

Trans-Tasman Resources proposes to use an undersea crawler to suck up iron-sand from the seabed. Graphic/ supplied

 Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | September 1, 2017

A “suck it and see” approach to the uncertainties of seabed mining is not good enough and is illegal – and that’s the essence of an appeal to the High Court.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) is appealing the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision to allow Trans Tasman Resources to mine ironsand from the South Taranaki seabed.

KASM’s appeal to the High Court is on 15 points of law, new chairwoman Cindy Baxter said. One of them is that the EPA’s many conditions amount to an adaptive management approach.

Adaptive management is about changing the way an activity is managed in response to as-yet-unknown effects. KASM’s lawyers say such an approach is prohibited under government’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) legislation.

Another point KASM wishes to appeal on is the EPA’s failure to impose a bond on the mining company.

And it says the decision makers failed to apply caution and environmental protection or to take cumulative effects into account.

KASM is asking the court to overturn the decision.

Yesterday, the final day for appeals, Forest & Bird and Ngā Rauru joined KASM, Ngāti Ruanui and a collective of fisheries interests in making appeals. Ngāti Ruanui has employed distinguished lawyer Francis Cooke QC.

For South Taranaki iwi Ngā Rauru the decision to appeal was easy on cultural, environmental and ethical grounds, chairman Marty Davis said. But the legal challenge will be costly for the small tribe.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the EPA has decided to allow mining based on uncertain and inadequate information – especially about its effect on the 30 marine mammal species in the bight. The society was also concerned mining would affect the rich marine life in the Patea Shoals.

The decision making process was unfairly weighted toward the mining company, Ngā Rauru kaiwhakahaere Anne-Marie Broughton said.

“There is no legal assistance fund available to community, hapū and iwi groups to appeal the decision, unlike under the Resource Management Act.”

That put a cost on iwi and others, and was a deliberate strategy to disempower communities and support extractive industries, she said. Ngā Rauru would be lobbying the Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment to change those conditions.

The iwi is urging others to get involved.

Seabed mining will spread quickly across the country unless it is stopped, Mr Davis said.

Other groups may appeal the EPA decision. Te Ohu Kaimoana (The Maori Fisheries Trust), the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board and Whanganui and Ngāruahine iwi all have interests in it.

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