Category Archives: Environmental impact

Brazil files homicide charges against Vale ex-CEO, 15 others in deadly 2019 dam collapse

Rescue operations underway in the wake of Vale’s Brumadinho dam collapse

Brazil prosecutions a stark contrast to the lack of corporate culpability in Papua New Guinea for a series of ‘world class’ environmental disasters and thousands of preventable deaths from river pollution…

Ana Paula Blower and Siobhán O’Grady | Washington Post | January 21, 2020

Prosecutors on Tuesday filed homicide charges against Fabio Schvartsman, the former CEO of the Brazilian mining conglomerate Vale, and 15 other people in the deadly dam collapse last year that killed at least 249 people.

The Minas Gerais state prosecutor’s office said it was bringing homicide and environmental charges against 11 people who worked for Vale and five who worked for the German safety-certification company TUV SUD. The companies will also face environmental charges.

The prosecutor’s office said the charges followed a nearly year-long investigation that concluded the dam posed a critical safety risk since at least 2017, and the situation worsened in 2018. In a statement, prosecutors accused Vale of hiding information related to the safety of the dams “from the government and society, including investors and shareholders of the company.”

They said investigators determined the alleged crimes were carried out in a way “that made it impossible or difficult for the victims to defend themselves — since the dam burst occurred abruptly and violently.”

In a statement, Vale said Tuesday that it would cooperate fully with authorities but “believes the accusations of fraud are perplexing.”

“It is important to note that other authorities are investigating the case and, at this point, it is premature to claim there was conscious assumption of risk to cause a deliberate breach of the dam,” the statement said.

Schvartsman’s lawyers said the charges against him were “hasty and unfair,” and should not have been determined before federal police finish their investigation.

Attorneys Pierpaolo Cruz Bottini, Mauricio Campos and Paulo Freitas said in a statement that Schvartsman took repeated measures to ensure dam safety at Vale, and opened an immediate investigation when the dam burst last year. They said authorities ignored documents submitted for the investigation that show the problems at the dam were not relayed to Schvartsman’s office.

“Those responsible must be held responsible for their actions,” the lawyers said. “But the attempt to punish those who, since the first hour, fulfilled their duty and stood by the authorities to investigate what happened and repair the damage, is unjust and regrettable.”

Vale and TUV SUD have faced scrutiny since the 280-foot tailings dam in the Minas Gerais municipality of Brumadinho collapsed last January, unleashing nearly 2 million cubic meters of toxic waste onto the mine’s offices and a nearby community. Torrents of mud swept away hundreds of people; some are still missing.

Schvartsman has been on leave since March. “Even totally assured of my righteous ways and having fulfilled my duty,” he wrote to company directors at the time, “I request the board to accept my temporary leave in the benefit of the company’s continued operations.”

TUV SUD said Tuesday it is “deeply affected” by the disaster, and “is still very much interested in clarifying the facts of the dam breach and therefore continues to offer its cooperation to the responsible authorities and institutions in Brazil and Germany in the context of the ongoing investigations.”

The company declined to offer further details Tuesday, citing “ongoing legal and official proceedings.”

Waste from the collapse on Jan. 25, 2019, blanketed miles of vegetation. Firefighters uncovered a bus carrying employees in the wreckage. All on board were dead.

Iara Murta, 58, fled her home with her two sisters. Speaking to The Washington Post in the aftermath, she said saw bodies and livestock stuck in the river of mud and mining runoff.

“It’s like watching the worst horror film,” she said.

In July, a Brazilian judge ordered Vale to cover all costs related to the dam’s collapse. Vale, based in Rio de Janeiro, said it would pay families more than $100 million.

Last year’s dam collapse shed light on the dangers of tailings dams, prompting reviews of other locations in Brazil where dams could be at risk for similar types of collapse.

A different Vale-operated dam burst in Minas Gerais in 2015, killing 19 people and displacing hundreds. After last year’s collapse, former environmental minister Marina Silva tweeted that “History is repeating itself,” and that “the government and the mining companies have learned nothing.”

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PNG New Ireland Deputy Governor Tells Social Media Mining Critics : Get Smart or Get Screwed

Pacific Mining Watch

 Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Governor of New Ireland, Sammy Missen, said today that it is actually amusing to see all the talk on social media about the failure of politicians to take action to make the mining sector work better, to the benefit of the people of the country.

Mr. Missen said “I find it amusing, because all these people are just missing the point. If they are so concerned about making changes in the Mining Act, then they should start supporting those who really want to make changes rather than just complaining all the time.”

The Deputy Governor said that there is one politician in the country who is serious about making the Mining Sector work to the advantage of the people. “That person is Sir Julius Chan. Sir Julius has been saying for more than ten years that the Mining Act should be changed. He has been saying that the current Mining Act takes huge wealth from the landowners and only gives them a few toea in return. Sir J says that the landowners should get automatic ownership in any mine. Landowners should never have to buy shares in a mine – they should get shares free, automatically. The gold and the copper and the nickel is in OUR ground.”

And, Mr. Missen said, “Sir J says that any company that wants to come in an operate a mine should be able to do so, but they will just be contractors. The owners of the mine will be the owners of the land – the State, the Province or the landowners, whoever owns the land where the mine is operating. And the benefits to the landowners will go up by five times from what they are now. Em tasol.”

Mr. Missen said that Sir Julius has been trying to make these changes in the Mining Act for years. “Almost three years ago Sir J introduced a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament to Revise the Mining Act. But the O’Neill Government did not act. And when the Marape Government came to power one of the first things it did was to invite a New Ireland Team to sit down with him and explain how the Mining Act should be revised. The Prime Minister said he would support those changes, but so far nothing has been done.”

Mr. Missen said criticism of the Mining Minister, the Hon. Johnson Tuke, is misplaced. “Minister Tuke fully supports the changes Sir Julius has proposed,” he said. “He supports giving ownership of the mines to the people who own the land, increasing royalties for the people and increasing all benefits coming from mining. But he can do nothing without the support of the Prime Minister.”

“And that is what people should understand,” said the Deputy Governor. “They should stop criticising everyone, and realise who their friends are. They should realise that they have an ally in Sir Julius. They have an ally in Minister Tuke. What the people need to do is to Get Smart. The need to telephone their MPs email their MPs, go on social media and tell their MPs they demand that they support the changes Sir Julius wants to make. The people need to make some NOISE! They need to demand a Revised Mining Act that will make the people rich from the wealth that is coming from THEIR ground.”

“And if their MPs do not listen to them,” Mr. Missen said, “if their MPs do not support giving the people a much larger share of the benefits, then the people need to make it very clear that those MPs will not get their votes in the next election. That is the only thing politicians understand. The People must tell their MPs one thing – if you refuse to support changes to the Mining Law that will benefit us, then you will no longer represent us. Em tasol!”

“And that,” Mr. Missen concluded, “is what people should be doing. They need to Get Smart. They need to realise who their friends are, and support them. If people just continue to moan and groan and refuse to work together, all our mines will end up just big holes in the ground, and all the wealth from them will be sitting in foreign bank accounts!”

In closing, the Deputy Governor said, “I can tell you one thing for sure. If we don’t Get Smart, we will surely Get Screwed!”

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Papua New Guinea Gold mine to become a top tier mining asset while landowners’ rights ignored

Financial Post

The most basic needs and rights of Papua New Guinea landowners are being completely disregarded while a Canadian and Chinese consortium talks up the potential of an internationally significant gold mine ahead of a PNG Government decision on the mine’s lease renewal.

Porgera Gold mine in remote Enga Province of Papua New Guinea expired last year and consortium made up of Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp and China’s Zijin Mining wants their lease to be extended for another 20 years.

A majority group of landowners, the Justice Foundation for Porgera headed up by the PNG Resource Owners Chairman Jonathan Paraia believes Barrick has no intention to deliver on promises it’s making to reduce environmental destruction or stop practices that damage local lives.

“Barrick has had 20 years to adequately deliver on its promises to resettle landowners, provide housing, education, clean drinking water so how can we for a moment believe that it will start honouring promises made under new contracts,” he said

“How many more independent reports detailing environmental and human rights abuses need to be published before the mine is held to account,” he said.

Mr Paraia understands Barrick needs this lease to be renewed so it can conclude a deal with Chinese state-owned entity Zijin.

“If the lease is renewed Barrick will not see it out, it intends to divest its share to its Chinese partner or someone else,” he said.

In 2015 Barrick Niugini officials told Landowners to make an offer for 95% of shares in Porgera mine but we could only make an offer for 10% so there was no sale. Instead in 2017 it sold half its shares to Zijin. We believe its goal is to sell its remaining shares once the lease is renewed.

The Chairman of the Justice Foundation for Porgera is also extremely concerned about a 70 million kina (almost $20M US) donation made to the Enga Provincial Government last week by the Chinese Government.

“The extremely generous donation while a decision on the mine is imminent is highly suspicious at best, and deserves a high level of scrutiny,” he said.

Jonathan Paraia also wants Barrick and elements of the PNG Government to stop cherry-picking supportive minority landowners with conflicts of interest and listen to the vast majority who want Barrick out.

“In the last fortnight, as part of Prime Minister James Marape delegation to Enga, Minister Johnson Tuke, Minister Bryan Kramar and Mineral Resources Authority head Jerry Garry unofficially visited the mine site and met with Barrick employees and contractors who claimed to be landowner representatives.

“Two of the guests, in particular, Dick Pundi a director of Ipili Porgera Investments Ltd (IPI) and Maso Mangape an employee of IPI claim to represent the interests of Landowners when IPI is a major service provider to Barrick, so whose interests are they serving?” he said.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera is aware the Prime Minister is adamant to take over the Porgera Gold Mine but other representatives of government are acting against the interest of the Prime Minister.

“The people of Porgera and the Justice Foundation for Porgera know the Prime Minister James Marape is listening to the people and has the best interests of our country at heart.

“We stand behind the Prime Minister and support him to say Barrick out, it’s time Papua New Guineans profited from Papua New Guinea’s valuable resources,” Mr Paraia said.

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Second Phase Of Ramu Investigation To Be Done, Says Environment Minister

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | January 15, 2020

Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori says they will leave no stone unturned with regards to the Basamuk slurry spillage last year.

He said they will be conducting more studies along the coastline in Madang to ensure that there is no environmental damage done following this slurry spill from the Ramu nickle and cobalt project.

He said they will be looking into all the drainage system into the Astrolabe Bay as far as Matukar on the North Coast all the way to Saidor in Rai Coast district of Madang province.

“We will also do strategic fishing right across the island up to Karkar and back and we will do a thematic mapping to show the distribution of the fish so we can contrast back to the permits,” he said.

“For the second phase, as soon as we get the funding for from Treasury we will roll it out but we want to do it this month.”

Mr Mori said CEPA is done with the reconnaissance stage.

“Now that we know what we want to arrive at, the next program will be designed to achieve that outcome and that’s what’s going to happen in the second phase.”

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Barrick Gold forges ahead on Papua New Guinea mine in face of local backlash

Jeff Lewis and Melanie Burton | Reuters | January 15, 2020

Barrick Gold Corp is set to elevate its troubled Papua New Guinea mine to its top-tier assets, despite landowner and government demands to cede a larger stake and deteriorating security at the joint venture with China’s Zijin Mining

With a 20-year lease renewal application in the balance, Barrick has faced backlash from Papua New Guinea (PNG) landowners and residents. Critics say the Porgera mine has polluted the water supply and created other environmental and social problems, with minimal economic returns for locals.

Seven people have died at the Porgera mine since September, including three so-called illegal miners last month in clashes that prompted Barrick’s local entity to appeal for government intervention.

Barrick hopes to boost the mine’s production by 18% or more. This previously unreported outlook raises the stakes for Prime Minister James Marape’s government, which has been seeking richer terms from miners and oil and gas producers.

The head of the country’s mining regulator said Barrick, the world’s No. 2 gold miner, is waiting to begin serious negotiations for permit renewal terms with the country’s executive council, led by Marape.

“If we can renew the permit on a reasonable basis, it stands up as a tier one asset,” Barrick Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow told Reuters, referring to a large scale, long-life, high margin deposit.

PNG’s next steps with Barrick could influence billions of dollars of planned investment by global miners including Australia’s Newcrest Mining and St Barbara, who are eyeing new mines or mine extensions, but are wary of rising sovereign risk.

Miners, facing a dearth of new deposits and rising resource nationalism, may now have to cede greater rewards to other stakeholders.

“There will have to be equitable sharing of the spoils or these things won’t be developed or will be discontinued, ultimately,” said portfolio manager Simon Mawhinney, at Allan Gray in Sydney who is among Newcrest’s biggest investors.

Barrick’s tier-one designation, used describe a mine capable of producing 500,000 ounces of gold annually for at least 10 years at low cost, would place Porgera in league with Barrick’s crown jewel assets at a time major gold miners are desperate to replace shrinking reserves.

Barrick and Zijin’s combined 2018 production at Porgera was around 421,500 ounces.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

An exposed pipe that Barrick uses to dump its tailing into the environment at Porgera in Papua New Guinea and people desperate for an income pan for residual gold in the waste, seen in a photograph from 2017. Photo by Catherine Coumans

Barrick has broadened the role of its top China executive and former U.S. diplomat Woo Lee to handle day-to-day talks with the PNG government. It has pledged to relocate villagers whose land the mine has swallowed and study ways to improve management of mine waste currently dumped in rivers, Bristow said.

The moves, aimed at mollifying concerns over access to arable land and pollution of local waterways, may not be enough to satisfy landowners and the PNG government who want a larger equity stake.

Barrick and Zijin each own 47.5% of the mine, with the remaining 5% held by landowner group, Mineral Resources Enga.

Analysts have said Barrick could opt to put its stake on the block with other assets it has shed to meet a $1.5 billion divestment target. But Bristow played down a potential sale, saying Porgera fits Barrick’s investment criteria.

“It makes real returns, it creates value, it can survive the cyclicality of the gold industry and will make a significant contribution to our other stakeholders,” he said.

Barrick’s top executive has shown he is willing to make concessions to settle disputes. In October, Barrick agreed to sell Tanzania a 16% stake in each of its Bulyanhulu, North Mara and Buzwagi mines to resolve a long-running fight over taxes.

The Canadian miner may face added pressure to confront issues in PNG that run afoul of investor benchmarks on environmental, social and governance issues.

Citi, for example, has pledged not to support mining companies who use riverine tailings disposal which an NGO said in a 2019 report had polluted the rivers and denied locals reliable drinking sources.

Maso Mangape of the Porgera Land Owners Association said local residents had been squeezed out. “The mine site has now become a battlefield,” he said.

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Mori Reassures That Madang Waters Are Safe

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | January 15, 2020

Residents of Madang Province, especially those living along the coastline, can now eat fish and use the sea.

Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori yesterday gave the clearance following an investigation done by the office of Conservation and Environment Protection Authority.

He said the waters are safe for use as elements tested were below detection limit. This was after the slurry spillage which has occurred in August last year.

Mr Mori said CEPA is contrasting and comparing the preliminary results of their investigation to the baseline studies that has been done in the past and will give what will be the allowable permits that was granted by environment and conservation for the operations of Ramu nickle project.

He said the reconnaissance has been done and the sampling has been taken especially on the quality of water, immediately around Basamuk as well as areas into the bay have shown that most of the results are below the detection limit.

“The elements that were tested included arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and zinc.

The results returned showed that all of them were below what was allowable in the permits,” he said.

“Being a nickel mine, you would expect a very high elevated reading of nickel. What was allowed under the permit was 1000 parts per million of nickel,” he said.

“However, the test in the water quality taken in December taken by the independent team showed that it returned a range of results ranging from 0.5 parts per million to 17.2 parts per million which is far less than the expected permits allowable under the operations of the nickel mine.”

Mr Mori said the fish in the waters of Madang are safe and urged the people of people of Madang to go back and live their normal lives.

He said another part of the investigation will be looking at fish tissues however for fish tissues people must be able to understand and appreciate that the environment of which those marine organisms especially fish caught around waters concerned are located around an area of high geo tectonic activities.

“We are expected to find elevated readings of some of the elements that we know and are being testing but we are going to contrast that back once again to the allowable limits which are specified in the permits that were done before the permitting of the mine,” Mr Mori said.

“These results when ready will come in place and we will inform the people through parliament for the next month.”

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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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