Category Archives: Financial returns

PNG’s losses from Solwara 1 currently over K350 million

Solwara 1 is chewing its way through PNG taxpayer funds at an alarming rate

In 2014, the State borrowed US$120 million [K375 million] from BSP to buy a 15% stake in the proposed Solwara 1 seabed mine.

Nautilus Minerals says US$113 million from the loan was paid to the company in December 2014.

It is not clear what has happened to the other US$7 million, the balance of the funds borrowed, but at the moment the government’s investment in Solwara 1 is not looking like a very good bet.

While the State’s partner, Nautilus Minerals is on financial life support and haemorrhaging senior staff, the State has written down its investment by over K260 million.

The latest financial report from Eda Kopa (Solwara) Limited, which holds the State’s interest in Solwara 1, shows that while the company still owes K376.8 million to BSP, it is valuing its assets, the 15% stake in Solwara 1, at just K113.7 million.

Above: Excerpt from the Annual Return for Eda Kopa (Solwara) Limited

As well as the K260 million write down in value, it is estimated the State is paying around K29 million a year to BSP in interest payments. This is calculated from the indicative interest rate of 7.75% shown in the financial report of Eda Kopa’s parent company, Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited.

So, not only has PNG already LOST K260 million on its investment in Solwara 1, it has also paid around K90 million in interest payments to BSP (2015-2017) and is still paying an additional estimated K29 million a year.

How many nurses, health centre workers or teachers could that money have paid for instead?

Looking deeper into the company records of Eda Kopa (Solwara), there are also some other interesting numbers lurking there.

In April 2014, Eda Kopa (Solwara) registered a charge in favour of BSP for up to K2.275 BILLION or US $875 million, (which ever is the higher).

Above: Excerpt from the Registration of Charge document

In November 2014, a second charge was registered by Eda Kopa (Solwara). This time a cross charge with Nautilus Minerals in the sum of K10 BILLION.

Above: Excerpt from the Registration of Charge document

The existence of both these substantial charges is verified by Deed documents [BSP Deed – 1mb, Nautilus Deed – 7mb] executed by the parties

Above: Excerpt from the Deed for the K2.275 billion charge

Above: Excerpt from the Deed for the K10 billion charge

Does anyone trust Eda Kopa (Solwara) to be playing around with such enormous potential liabilities?

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How the elite profit while a nation suffers their incompetence

Port Moresby, a city where the elite profit while the rest suffer the consequences of their incompetence

PNG Exposed | 19 February 2018

Imagine a company that is in debt, heavily in debt and still racking up more losses.

Imagine a company that in 2016 alone lost over K354 million.

Imagine a company where the total liabilities exceed the total assets by more than K218 million.

Imagine that this is a company set up by the government to manage a nations interests in its abundant mineral resources.

Now imagine no more and say hello to Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited, formerly Petromin PNG Holdings Limited.

The figures above are from Kumul Minerals Holdings latest Annual Return, which is for the 2016 financial year.

How could a company that, according to Statute, is supposed to be the commercial enterprise that participates in mineral exploration, development, production, processing and marketing activities,on behalf of the State be run into near bankruptcy?

But never fear, the Directors, the people responsible for this appalling state of affairs are still profiting handsomely.

While the company was racking up losses of K354 million in 2016 alone its Board members were still taking a handsome pay packet:

Director Remuneration
Brown Bai K 159,759
Ian Goddard K 211,337
Jerry Wemin K 126,227
William Searson K 102,654
Richard Tengdui K 99,809
Issac Lupari K 68,232
Peter Pokawin K 23,959
Arunavu Basu K 182.816
Peter Graham K 59,028
Stanley Lira K 33,129
Richard Kuna K 34,379

 

In total K1,101,329 paid to eleven men [yes, all men, no room here for gender diversity let alone equality] many, if not all of whom, already occupy other well paid jobs.

K1.1 million paid for overseeing losses of over K354 million, losses that were almost three times greater than in the previous year, 2015 (K133 million).

And the excess does not end there. In addition to the Board remuneration, Kumul Minerals Holdings had 10 staff who earned more than K100,000 each in 2016.

One of those staff earned over K920,000, two more over K620,000, another over K450,000 and one over K300,000. Two more earned over K270,000.

In total, Kumul Minerals Holdings paid its staff just under K9 million in 2016 and spent a further K1.5 million on consultancy and professional fees.

Who is ultimately responsible for this negligent mismanagement of our nations mineral wealth, and the looting of an empty pot?

Well it has to be the trustee shareholder does it not, the person who effectively owns the company on behalf of the nation, who is none other than one Peter O’Neill.

It seems our trustee is not doing a very good job!

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Nautilus Minerals says it doesn’t know very much at all

According to Nautilus Minerals, although it has successfully tested its mining machines in a giant puddle, there is an awful lot it does NOT know about its proposed Solwara 1, experimental seabed mine in Papua New Guinea.

Indeed, it is hard to find anything the company does know with any certainty.

Nautilus Minerals admits it does not know:

1. If its mining machines will work on the seafloor

Nautilus says there are “risks relating to the performance of the Seafloor Production Tools include the risk of equipment failing to perform to design specifications when operated at the Solwara 1 Project, as the machines have not yet been tested at depths similar to depths present at the Solwara 1 Project”.

2. If it can raise the money it needs to even start mining

The risks related to continuing the Company’s operations and advancing the development of the Solwara 1 Project include “the risk that the Company will be unable to obtain at all or on acceptable terms, and within the timeframes required, the remaining financings necessary [$300 million] to fund completion of the build, testing and deployment of the Company’s seafloor production system

3. If it can fix the failed funding for its mining support ship

The Company may “be unable to rectify or arrange for the rectification of the default under the shipbuilding contract for the construction of the Production Support Vehicle (as announced on 11 December 2017)

4. Whether its other contractors can do their part on time

Nautilus says that “agreements with third party contractors for building slots within certain timeframes are not secured as required”.

5. Whether the mine is economically viable

Nautilus does not even know if the mine is economically viable:

“As the Company has not completed an economic study in respect of the Solwara 1 Project, there can be no assurance that the Company’s production plans will, if fully funded and implemented, successfully demonstrate that seafloor resource production is commercially viable”

6. What the environmental impacts will be

Nautilus Minerals doesn’t even know what the environmental impacts of any mining will be: “the actual impact of any SMS mining operations on the environment has yet to be determined” says the company.

On top of all this, yesterday we revealed that Nautilus apparently doesn’t know that the company it thought was its partner in the Solwara 1 mine, holding a 15% stake, actually doesn’t exist any more… oops!

Maybe all these unknowns explain why Nautilus Minerals can’t find anyone dumb enough to finance its plans – except, of course, the PNG government!

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Government nets next to nothing from Tolukuma mine sale

The government sold the Tolukuma gold mine to a Singapore company, Asidokona, in 2015, for a reported price of K81.35 million. However, Mine Watch can reveal, the government has only ever received K700,000.

Despite Petromin’s claims Asidokona would invest heavily in the mine infrastructure, a new road and restart production, the whole deal looked dodgy from the very start.

Then Mining Minister, Byron Chan, described Asidokona as “reputable, committed” but  Asidokona is not a mining company, it is a front for Singaporean speculator, Philip Soh Sai Kiang     .

In 2016 Mine Watch revealed that Asidokona was trying to offload the mine for US$ 212 million to a Singapore nightclub company, LifeBrandz. That deal fell through.

All the while the government has been trying to convince landowners that mining will soon recommence and they will benefit handsomely from a new royalties deal as well as the 10% shareholding agreed as part of the 2015 sale.

This was tantamount to bare faced lying by the government, as officials must have known all along that Asidokona had no intention of restarting mining and, indeed, has only ever paid a tiny proportion of the sale price.

According to an audited financial report for Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited, the successor to Petromin, the sale of Tolukuma was completed on 30 November 2015, not for the reported price of K81.35 million, but K26 million.

Even worse, only K700,000 has ever been received and the balance of K25.3 million is still outstanding.

Apparently the buyer, Asidokona, was due to pay a further K16 million on before 31 December, 2016, but never paid. A further K2 million was to be settled by 31 December 2017 and K1.4 million by 31 December 2018.

According to the directors of Kumul Minerals “recovery of the outstanding sales proceeds is considered doubtful” and the debt has been written off.

To cap the sorry saga, Tolukuma Gold Mines has now been liquidated for non payment of its debts.

The Tolukuma landowners have every right to feel they have been betrayed and deceived by government authorities.

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Tolukuma mine liquidated

“Asidokona Mining Resources is reputable, committed, has integrity, and capacity” said then Mining Minister, Byron Chan when the government sold the mine in 2015

Who in the Mineral Resource Authority is going to take responsibility for this monumental mess?

SEE ALSO

Tolukuma mine purchased by Asian finance company with no mining experience

More farce over government’s botched sale of Tolukuma mine

Tolukuma future looks bleak, despite MRA spin

Post Courier | February 13, 2018

One of Papua New Guinea’s gold mines, Tolukuma, was liquidated last week after a service provider took them to court for non-payment of bills totaling US$233,844 last year.

The National Court ordered on February 08, 2018, that:

  • Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited is placed into liquidation by this Court under the provisions of the Companies Act on the ground that it just and equitable that the company be placed into liquidation.
  • Andrew Pini of Pini Accountants and Advisors is appointed to act as liquidator of Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited.
  • Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited is to pay Hevi Lift Limited and IPI Catering Limited’s costs of and incidental to the proceeding.
  • The time of the entry of these orders is abridged to the date of settlement by the Registrar which shall take place forthwith.

Liquidator Andrew Pini confirmed yesterday that the National Court last Thursday appointed his accounting firm to take on the liquidation process effective immediately.

Hevi Lift took the matter to court in October 2017 for their outstanding of US$233,844 owing since June last year. Two other companies, IPI Catering and Pacific Development Contractors submitted in support their statements to the court, as they were also owed K1.6 million and K1.8 million respectively by Tolukuma Gold Mines.

“I don’t know exactly how much they owe the creditors or service providers, what I intend to do immediately is make an assessment of the real debt figure and then will put out a report,” Mr Pini said yesterday.

“I will visit the mine to start our process of liquidation, but for now I have come up with directions on how we can immediately start. I have put out public statements to all creditors of the company to come and lodge their claims using the prescribed claim Form 43 of Schedule 1 of the Companies Regulations 1998.

“In accordance with Regulations 21 and 22 creditors of the company are required to lodge their claims by 5pm Wednesday March 14, 2018. After this, then I will ascertain the real debt figure for the mine.”

A Singapore-based Asidokona Mining Resources, a private company, bought the Tolukuma gold mine in Central Province for K81.35 million to recapitalise and eventually restart it. They took over from Petromin in 2015.

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O’Neill caught out telling lies over Ok Tedi Mine

Bryan Kramer MP | PNG Blogs | February 09, 2018 

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was caught lying and misleading Parliament during question time when it resumed its first session in 2018 on Tuesday.

O’Neill was responding to a question raised by the Governor of Western Province, Toboi Yoto asking when his people would benefit from Oktedi Mine and when they would receive the share certificates.

Western Governor explained that since the O’Neill Government took over the mine in September 2013 it had failed to transfer the share certificates representing 33% interest in the mine to the Western Province people. Further, still, they had yet to receive their dividends.

In response, O’Neill claimed when his Government took over the mine from BHP, who at the time wanted to shut down the mine for not being profitable. He said the Government inherited a loss-making machine.

He confirmed his Government has yet to transfer 33% interest to the landowners, claiming it was because of stamp duties issue.

Member for Moresby North-West Sir Mekere Mortaua interjected with a point of order. Mekere a former PNG Sustainable Chairman told O’Neill to stop his incurable lies [about the mine]. There was never any plans to shut down the mine it was not making any loss but investing in further explorations, Sir Mereke said.

O’Neil responded telling Mekere that he was only trying to protect his legacy of providing immunity (protection) to BHP, the mines former developer who destroyed the lives and livelihood of the people through environmental damage.

“It was loss-making machine when we took it over but we had to restructure the mine during the drought and paid off all the employees making a profit,” he said (source post courier article – https://postcourier.com.pg/ok-tedi-issue-heats/)

It was at this point I then interjected asking the Speaker to advise the Prime Minister to stop lying and misleading parliament. As I had in front of me 2012 OkTedi Financial Report confirming the mine was, in fact, making a profit.

O’Neill responded I was a busybody from Madang on social media.

So was O’Neill lying when he claimed the Oktedi Mine was a loss-making machine before he took over it?

O’Neill took over the mine in 2013, so let’s review the mine’s profits four years before and four years after from when he took over it.

  • In 2009 net profit K1.5 Billion
  • In 2010 net profit 2.03 Billion
  • In 2011 net profit K1.2 Billion
  • In 2012 net profit of K913 million
  • In 2013 net profit of K181 million
  • In 2014 net profit of K360 million
  • In 2015 net loss of -K347 million
  • In 2016 net profit of K384 million

This confirms O’Neill was lying and misleading parliament.

What O’Neill failed to disclose that soon after taking over the mine companies he held a direct and indirect interest in where awarded substantial contracts to service the mine.

So perhaps he was referring to his own companies being a loss making machines until he took over the Mine and thereafter they started turning over million Kina profits.

It is not the first time O’Neill has unashamedly lied both on the floor of Parliament and in the public arena.

In the height of 2017 General Elections O’Neill made an announcement while on the campaign trail in Tari that his Government had made the decision to transfer the 4.27% Kroton shares to the PNG LNG landowners.

“Today I am announcing that the national government will transfer 25 per cent of Kroton shares, which is 4.2 percent indirect interest in the PNG LNG project,” he said.

“The shares to be transferred to landowners and provincial governments in Hela, Southern Highlands, Gulf, Western and Central province are valued at K3.5 billion,

“Our Government is providing 25 per cent of Kroton shares to landowners and beneficiary groups that should rightfully be receiving benefits from the PNG LNG project.

“These shares will enable the landowners and communities and the provinces to secure a better future and to be more self-sufficient.

“This Government has made it our business to correct bad decisions from the past, particularly when this relates to land ownership.

“I was not a signatory to the initial Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement in 2009, but I have made sure that our government does the right thing by our people today.

“This in the same spirit as the transfer of 17.4 percent of BCL shares to the landowners and people of Bougainville by the national government.”

“It is the same as the transfer of 33 per cent ownership in Ok Tedi” O’Neill said. (source https://www.thenational.com.pg/clans-promised-shares/)

So did O’Neill transfer the 4.27% of Kroton shares in the PNG LNG Project to the landowners? Did he transfer the 33 per cent ownership in the Oktedi mine to Western landowners?

The answer is NO.

Such statements maybe construed as undue influence (criminal offence under Section 102) When a person makes a false statement to induce a voter to vote in a particular way knowing the statement to be false.

This explains why O’Neill is commonly referred to as a Pathological Liar – defined as habitual or compulsive lying.

It is certainly embarrassing knowing such a person occupies the office of Prime Minister where his shrewd conduct and poor character reflects on our Nation of 8 million people.

Following the formation of the Government in August 2017 I asked members of the Opposition who previously served under O’Neill why they abandoned his Government – they responded because he was forever lying, making commitments or promises he would never honor. “We got tired of his lies and left” they said.

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Landowners and companies in new battle for Panguna mine, which triggered Bougainville Crisis

PHOTO: Panguna landowners are arguing about which company should restart mining. (ABC News: Bethanie Harriman)

 Eric Tlozek | ABC News | 10 February 2018

The race to reopen one of the world’s biggest copper mines, Panguna, is dividing landowners and the wider community in Bougainville.

Key points:

  • Local leader Philip Miriori says activity at the Panguna mine would bring “prosperity” and “better infrastructure” to the community
  • Bougainville’s President says the Government is keen to restart the mine to boost its case for independence
  • Not all landowners around the mine are happy with the stalemate, or with RTG’s push to leapfrog former operator BCL

Panguna was abandoned in 1989, after landowner dissatisfaction with the mine led to the Bougainville Crisis, an armed uprising against the Papua New Guinea Government in which 20,000 people died.

Now mining companies are trying to come back, right as Bougainville prepares to vote on whether it should become an independent nation.

Philip Miriori is a local leader who wants mining to resume.

“The Panguna mine must reopen,” he said.

“That is going to bring prosperity. We need to see our kids go to school. We need better hospitals, better infrastructure.”

Mr Miriori leads a group called the Me’ekamui and has been battling through the courts and mediation to become chairman of the landowner association of the mine pit, the SMLOLA (Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association).

“I think unity for the resource owners is important, before anything else,” he said.

“Without the unity, I don’t think we can achieve anything.”

Mr Miriori’s Me’ekamui group has entered into a joint venture with Perth company RTG Mining, which is making a bold bid to reopen Panguna.

PHOTO: Philip Miriori’s Me’ekamui group has entered into a joint venture with RTG mining. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

“What I was interested in with RTG is a social licence [to mine],” Mr Miriori said.

“I don’t want to get anything for myself, I want to see my people benefit.”

But Mr Miriori and other supporters are being paid by RTG, an arrangement the Bougainville Government has criticised.

Mr Miriori said the payments were legitimate salaries, not inducements for people’s support.

“That is always a normal part of anything, nothing is free,” he said.

“The world has changed. People are educated. So there’s no bribery there.”

RTG’s bid and Philip Miriori’s push for leadership of the landowner association has disrupted a sustained effort by the mine’s former operator, Bougainville Copper Limited, or BCL, to return to Panguna.

BCL is part-owned by the Bougainville Government and had an exploration licence and first right of refusal over the site.

But the Bougainville Government has now rejected BCL’s application to extend that licence, and put an indefinite moratorium on any mining at Panguna.

PHOTO: The Panguna mine is one of the world’s biggest copper mines. (AAP Image: Ilya Gridneff)

Bougainville’s President, John Momis, said the issue of mining had become too sensitive.

“A lot of people are against mining, any mining at all, and mostly against BCL, because of its past,” he said.

Landowners at loggerheads as referendum looms

Mr Momis said the Government does not want conflict at the mine to distract from a scheduled referendum next year on whether Bougainville should secede from Papua New Guinea.

He said the Government may have been overly keen to restart the mine, because it wanted the revenue to boost its case for independence.

“Panguna is a very, very difficult issue for all the things that happened in the past,” Mr Momis said.

“So maybe we were pushing things too hard because of our desire to meet our fiscal self-reliance target.”

Not all the landowners around the mine are happy with the stalemate, or with RTG’s push to leapfrog BCL.

Jeffrey Clason’s mother is one of the mine landowners, and he said many people want BCL to resume mining.

“I think the majority of the landowners are still with BCL and I think as the Mining Act says, they’re the last people to say yes or no, it’s their land,” he said.

“So, for the landowners, BCL is still welcome.”

PHOTO: Bougainvillean Bernadine Kama says she does not want mining to restart at Panguna at all. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Some Bougainvilleans, like Bernadine Kama — who comes from a village near the mine, don’t want mining to restart at Panguna at all.

“We’ve already seen the damage and destruction done to our land,” she said.

The Bougainville Government said it will come up with a new strategy for Panguna, and will continue consultation with landowners about whether it should be mined, and who should mine it.

But in the meantime, Bougainville Copper Limited is pursuing court action against the Government, which is not only a major shareholder, but also the mining regulator.

So the battle for Panguna is getting more complicated, right as the region prepares for a contentious referendum on its political future.

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