Category Archives: Environmental impact

Nautilus’ stock plummets as deep sea mining litigation proceeds

Deep Sea Mining Campaign | 17 July 2018

Today Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mine project will be at the centre of a court hearing in Papua New Guinea as local communities seek to enforce their legal rights to full information about the project.

Andy Whitmore, Finance campaigner from the Deep Sea Mining campaign said, “We were informed that Nautilus told its shareholders at their AGM that the legal case bought by local communities in PNG to stop the Solwara 1 project had been dismissed on June 18.”

“It is also alleged that Nautilus stated to shareholders they believed the government of PNG was going after community for cost recovery because it was a spurious lawsuit.” 

“This is misinformation from Nautilus!” claimed Jonathan Mesulam from the Alliance of Solwara Warriorsa local community leader whose village is located 25km from the Solwara 1 project.

“There is still a legal case registered at Waigani National Court House. The case, which was adjourned on June 18, will be heard today.”

“The real question is this: why is the government trying to dismiss this case? Why would government resources be invested in blocking this case over the constitutional right of all PNG citizens to Freedom of Information?”

Nautilus stock fell by 19% this month after a string of bad news stories. These include the contract with their shipbuilding supplier had been canceled, major mining company Anglo American divesting its’ shares from the company and that the majority of the local community in New Ireland province oppose the renewal of Nautilus’ exploration license.

“Local community around the Community Beneficiary Area (CBA) have all objected to the renewal of Exploration License 1196 through written objection which was lodged at the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) in March this year. There was also strong objection during the Warden hearing in April” continued Mr. Mesulam.

“New Irelanders are now well informed of the potential impact of Nautilus Minerals and their experimental seabed mining project. They are giving their undivided support to ensure the project is stopped at all cost.” 

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Basil wants Wafi-Gulpu not to repeat Hidden Valley mistakes

“Are they [Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining] willing to admit the mistakes they have done up at Hidden Valley?” – Minister Sam Basil

Junior Ukaha | The National aka The Loggers Times | 13 July 2018

BULOLO MP Sam Basil says he does not want to see a repeat of problems faced by landowners of the Hidden Valley Mine to happen at Wafi-Golpu.

The Mineral Resources Authority, however, countered that the fault was with the landowners themselves.

Basil was speaking yesterday during the second day of the Wafi-Golpu Project Development Forum in Lae.

Basil, whose district hosts Hidden Valley Mine, said despite the mine operating for a number of years, living standards of the mine-area landowners had not improved.

He said the Biangai and the Watut people, traditional landowners of Hidden Valley, had not seen any tangible developments and benefits from the mine.

“We have not fixed the problems of Hidden Valley and now we are talking about Wafi,” Basil said.

“These two same companies that have mined Hidden Valley now want to mine Wafi. Are they willing to admit the mistakes they have done up at Hidden Valley?

“Is the Mineral Resources Authority willing to shoulder the blame so that we can forge a new way forward?

“Our landowners in Biangai and Watut are still walking around without money.

“They have not been given much.”

Basil said there was also the issue of environmental damage at Hidden Valley, which is now before the courts.

He said the two per cent royalty given to mine landowners was not enough and should be increased to five per cent.

“Before you present this document to us, you have to tell us the failures of the past mines,” Basil said.

“MRA needs to outline them and find a way forward.

“The benefits of the past projects, you have to tell us now?

“What steps are we going to take from here on?”

Basil urged landowners not to quickly sign the mine memorandum of agreement (MoA) but ensure they understood how it would affect their lives and those of their children.

Sean Ngansia, MRA’s executive manager of development coordination, said the problem was not with the authority but the landowner leaders.

Ngansia said Basil was referring to how royalties from Hidden Valley had been managed.

“We don’t necessarily manage royalties on landowners’ behalf,” he said.

“It (royalties) is usually given directly to the landowners through their landowner associations.

“The issue now is really about how these monies are managed.

“You will find that in Hidden Valley and all the other mines, the landowner association leaders are not managing their royalties well.

“There’s a lot of misuse and mismanagement. These leaders also do not report to their people and that’s where the problem is.”

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Draft mining regulations insufficient to protect the deep sea – IUCN report

“Our current understanding of the deep sea does not allow us to effectively protect marine life from mining operations

“Stringent precautionary measures to protect the marine environment should be a core part of any mining regulations, yet these remain missing in action”

IUCN | 16 July 2018

Regulations under development at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to manage deep-sea mining are insufficient to prevent irrevocable damage to marine ecosystems and a loss of unique species – many yet to be discovered, an IUCN report warns.

The report, Deep seabed mining: a rising environmental challenge, provides a comprehensive overview of deep-sea mining and its potential environmental impacts. The report was launched today, coinciding with the 24th session of the ISA, whose aim is to agree on a ‘mining code’ to regulate the exploitation of the deep seabed.

According to the report, an effective regulatory framework is needed to avoid lasting harm to the marine environment, based on high-quality environmental impact assessments and mitigation strategies. These, in turn, must be based on comprehensive baseline studies to improve the understanding of the deep sea, which remains understudied and poorly understood.

The mining code currently under development lacks sufficient knowledge of the deep sea and a thorough assessment of environmental impacts of mining operations that are necessary to ensure effective protection of deep-sea life, according to IUCN experts.

“We are operating in the dark,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme.

“Our current understanding of the deep sea does not allow us to effectively protect marine life from mining operations. And yet, exploration contracts are being granted even for those areas that host highly unique species. Exploitation of minerals using current technologies could potentially destroy the rich deep-sea life forever, benefitting only a few, and disregarding future generations.”

There is growing commercial interest in deep-sea mineral deposits as a result of projected rising demand for copper, aluminium, cobalt and other metals. These resources are used to produce high-tech applications, such as smartphones, and green technologies, such as electric storage batteries.

Though there is little empirical evidence of the impacts of deep-sea mining, the potential impacts are worrying. These include direct physical damage to marine habitats due to the scraping of the ocean floor by machines – similar to clearcutting a forest – and the stirring up of fine sediments on the seafloor that can smother animals and cloud the water. Additional impacts include toxic pollution due to leaks and spills, noise, vibrations and light pollution from mining equipment and surface vessels.

By May 2018, the ISA – which has the dual mandate of promoting the development of deep-sea minerals whilst ensuring that this development is not harmful to the environment – had issued 29 contracts for the exploration of the deep sea. Commercial mining in international waters is expected to begin no earlier than 2025. Exploratory mining in the national waters of Japan started in 2017, and commercial mining is predicted to occur in Papua New Guinea by 2020. 

“With regulations for commercial deep-sea mining currently under development, we are facing a unique window of opportunity to ensure that potential impacts of these operations are properly assessed, understood and publically discussed,” says Kristina Gjerde, IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme senior advisor on the high seas.

“Stringent precautionary measures to protect the marine environment should be a core part of any mining regulations, yet these remain missing in action. In addition to this, the ISA’s challenging and conflicting mandate will require improved oversight by the international community to ensure marine life is adequately protected.”

Deep-sea mining is the process of retrieving mineral deposits from the deep sea – the area of the ocean below 200 m. The area covers about 65% of the Earth’s surface and harbours a rich diversity of species – many unknown to science – which are uniquely adapted to harsh environmental conditions. It also includes unique geological features, including the Mariana Trench – the greatest depth registered in the ocean.

The 24th session of the ISA is taking place from 2 to 27 July in Kingston, Jamaica.

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PLANNED MINE PIPELINE THROUGH LAE UNDER ATTACK

“Minister Tuke welcomed these concerns and promised to have responsible agencies address them in the right processes, however  he called to have the mine agreement formalized before the November APEC meeting, a time frame which seems unreal given the outstanding issues of identifying other affected landowner groups and addressing their concerns”

Gabriel Lahoc | NBC News | 12 July 2018

The planned Wafi-Golpu mine pipeline, which will run out from the mine site from the borders of Bulolo and Huon Gulf districts, across the Markham river and ending in the industrial hub of Lae, has come under attack.

Leaders from the Ahi tribe, notably from Butibam village, and the Wafi-Golpu Mine Area Landowners Association, surprised the organisers and the guests when they interjected at the closing of the Wafi-Golpu mine project development forum yesterday at the Sir Ignatius Kilage stadium in Lae.

Chairman of the Wafi-Golpu Mine Area Landowners Association, Holmes Kissing, faced the guests, which included Mining Minister Johnson Tuke Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu, Communications and Energy Minister and Bulolo MP Sam Basil, Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour, Menyamya MP Thomas Pelika, Tewai-Siassi MP Dr Kobby Bomareo, Mineral Resources Authority Executive Manager Sean Ngansia, Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture senior executives and the chairmen of the three primary landowners groups, Yanta, Hengambu and Babuaf, and expressed the people’s disappointment in their handling of the negotiations relating to the project.

This first ever forum is where all stakeholders were supposed to meet together and participate in discussions, but according to the frustated Ahi and other mine affected communities, not all stakeholder groups were ever consulted or invited to express themselves.

Mr Kissing, who is also from Butibam, shouted down the master of ceremony who was closing the first day open session, and was allowed by Minister Tuke, to air their grievances.

Mr Kissing, pointed out Morobe Deputy Provincial Administrator Masayat Moat, for failing in his leadership to get as many and all concerned parties together in the negotiations and discussions leading to the forum.

He told the national leaders and Wafi-Golpu JV executives that there were several outstanding issues as the planned pipeline will run through traditional land of several tribes and communities from outside and within Lae city and the fact that the state has not yet compensated the rightful landowners for the Lae Tidal Basin port and Lae city and that only one Ahi village of Wagang, where the pipe will end, was included as a stakeholder.

Reflecting on the mistakes of Hidden Valley mine, Mr Kissing warned that the livelihood of the people in and around the mine area, to those along the rivers and along the nearby coastline will be affected, and the frustrated locals will rise up against the developer and the government if they ignore these issues and concerns and sign any agreements and deals.

Mr Seymour and Mr Basil, admitted that the majority of the affected people are not yet ready for the mine and vowed to task the provincial administration to help identify affected communities and involve them, .

Minister Tuke welcomed these concerns and promised to have responsible agencies address them in the right processes, however in his speech he called to have the mine agreement formalized before the November APEC meeting, a time frame which seems unreal given the outstanding issues of identifying other affected landowner groups and addressing their concerns.

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Te Atiawa and Taranaki Iwi fundamentally opposed to seabed mining activity

In addition to endangered Māui dolphins, other marine mammals, including fur seals, common dolphins, and orcas (killer whales) can be found in the Marine Park boundaries.

Te Atiawi iwi | 13 July 2018

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust and Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust are fundamentally opposed to seabed mining activities within their tribal rohe.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust and Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust were notified of the exploration permit application by Ironsands Offshore Mining Ltd in 2016 and each iwi made a submission opposing the application back in September 2016.

Both Iwi organisations were informed of the granting of the permit on 8 June 2018, a month after the permit had been granted by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals on 8 May 2018.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust Chairperson Liana Poutu is concerned that the permit area includes a Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

“The permit has been granted inside a Marine Mammal Sanctuary which is administered and managed by the Department of Conservation.

“We find it difficult to understand how one arm of government, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, can cut across another arm of government and make these kinds of decisions without engagement on the issue.

“The permit area also sits inside a mineral mining exclusion zone, so although it’s only exploration at this stage the implication is that if exploration is successful there is an expectation that a mining permit will be granted in an area that excludes this activity.

“Fundamentally, the iwi and hapū of Te Atiawa are opposed to this activity,” she says.

Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust Chairperson Leanne Horo says that the protection of our environment is a focus for Taranaki Iwi.

“Taranaki Iwi’s focus is on protecting, enhancing and sustaining the mouri of Tangaroa ki Tai.

“The Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area and Tapuae Marine Reserve sit within the Te Atiawa tribal rohe and our Taranaki Iwi tribal rohe so it’s concerning to us that the permit has been granted in close proximity to these areas.

“We are launching our environmental management plan, Taiao Taiora, in the coming week which outlines our position on environmental issues.

“Taranaki Iwi is fundamentally opposed to any new mining or prospecting activity taking place within our rohe,” she says.

The permit area at its closest is 2.8km from shore, and sits almost entirely in the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary established in 2008. The permit area at its closest is 0.45km from the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area and at its closest is 1km from the Tapuae Marine Reserve. The permit area overlaps the Mineral Mining Exclusion Zone in two places.

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Banking Giant Standard Chartered Takes Stand Against Mine Waste Dumping

Ditch Ocean Dumping Campaign applauds broad prohibition to protect oceans, rivers and other water bodies

Earthworks | 10 July 2018

Standard Chartered has  announced a full prohibition of financial services for clients practicing marine and riverine mine waste dumping. Standard Chartered adopted their policy shortly after the launch of the Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign, joining Citigroup, which has also confirmed that it will no longer finance submarine mine waste disposal.

“We have long held the view that marine or riverine tailings disposal is not good industry practice, and we are proud to add it to our prohibited activities list,” said Amit Puri, Managing Director and Global Head of Environmental and Social Risk Management at Standard Chartered.

“We applaud Standard Chartered for taking a leadership role in ending ocean mine waste dumping. It’s dirty, unnecessary and wrong,” said Ellen Moore of Earthworks, a nonprofit organization which is coordinating the campaign.

“Banks and financial institutions must actively take steps to ensure that they are not bankrolling the destruction of our oceans. I hope other banks follow the example set by Standard Chartered and Citigroup.”

The Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign, which includes 40 groups in 17 countries, is calling on financial institutions to divest from any project or company that employs aqueous tailings disposal.

Mining companies dump 220 million tonnes of mine waste directly into oceans, rivers and lakes every year:  more waste than the United States puts into its landfills. While the outdated practice has been phased out in many parts of the world, new mining proposals in Papua New Guinea and Norway signal ocean mine waste dumping is being ramped up, not phased out.

By drawing a clear line in the sand against aqueous mine waste dumping, Citi and Standard Chartered are joining a growing movement of governments, companies, mine-impacted communities, and civil society organizations calling for an end to the practice.

At the 2016 conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 51 of the 53 participating countries voted in favor of an international ban on ocean mine waste dumping and to develop a plan to stop ongoing dumping due to the irreparable destruction and degradation of marine environments.

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PORGERA MINE DISPUTE UNRESOLVED

“breaches of the MOA, has caused negative impacts on the social, environmental and economic lives of the Porgera landowners”

Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea Inc | 9 JULY 2018

Although the Porgera Joint Venture has recently applied for the renewal of their Special Mining Lease, a majority of the landowners whose lands are the subject of the mining lease, are maintaining a dispute for breaches of various agreements, laws and the constitution of PNG under the previous lease.

On 13th December 2013, the Porgera Special Mining Lease area landowners presented a position statement to the former Minister for Mining, Hon. Byron Chan, after Australian lawyers conducted a review in relation to the compliance of their Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated 12th May 1989, with the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. The statement claimed that the landowners were owed more than four billion United States dollars (US$4billion) worth of unfulfilled contractual undertakings by the State.

The position statement claimed that the breaches of the MOA, has caused negative impacts on the social, environmental and economic lives of the Porgera landowners. They claimed that in the period 1994 – 1995, the State allowed the mine to vary its original proposals for development of 1988. The 1988 proposals sought State approval and issuance of a Special Mining Lease (SML) for the mine to construct mining infrastructure that was capable of processing eight thousand tonnes of crushed ore through its mill over a mine life of twenty years. Underground mining was to cease after seven years of operations. Only five years later the State allowed what was called a “minor variation” to the approved proposals to double the processing rate to 17,000 tonnes per day. This meant that the amount of ore mined daily and the waste material produced were also doubled, resulting in the waste dumps which were originally designed to hold less materials, bursting into the river systems causing massive landslides which destroyed homes and gardens owned by the landowners. The mine failed to resettle the landowners from within the Special Mining Lease to unaffected area, even when experts found the need to do so in 1996.

The landowners claim that the State has since the lodgement of their position statement, failed to address their complaints, resulting in the landowners issuing a Notice of Dispute in April of 2015. The State has also failed to respond to the Notice of Dispute which may then force the landowners to then invoke the arbitration provisions in the MOA.

The State’s failure to respond to the legal steps being followed by the landowners pursuant to the MOA, is unbecoming of a responsible government. It is clear that State agencies are negligent of their duty to deal with the dispute in an orderly and responsible manner to ensure that the complaints are properly dealt with. The State’s continuous ignorance of the issues raised by the landowners will do nothing but increase the frustration and anger of those affected landowners which could eventually lead to the disruption of yet another resource project in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea.

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