Category Archives: Human rights

Taranaki seabed mining decision delayed by a week

Ngati Ruanui, of Patea, protest in Parliament grounds, Wellington, against the mining application. MONIQUE FORD / Fairfax NZ

Andrew Owen | Taranaki Daily News | July 25 2017

The decision on a controversial application to mine thousands of tons of iron sand off the Taranaki coast has been put back by a week.

The Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision-making committee is considering an application by Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd (TTR) to extract billions of dollars in iron ore in shallow waters about 25 kilometres off the coast of Patea.

The 20-year project would involve extracting about a quarter of a cubic kilometre of iron sands, weighing a billion tonnes, from under the sea within the South Taranaki Bight. Iron ore would be separated out on a ship before 90 per cent of the material was piped back onto the mined seabed.  

A hearing on the application took place earlier this year and a decision was expected to have been given to the EPA on Thursday.

But the committee announced on Tuesday that it “requires a further extension of one week to deliver its decision to the EPA”. 

It is now expected to be presented on Thursday, August 3 and will be made public in the week beginning August 14.  

“As you can appreciate this is an important application and the committee is determined to ensure it has given full consideration to all of the information presented at the hearing and prepare a fully reasoned decision,” Diane Robinson, EPA Group Manager: Communications, said in a statement.

“As is usual with such applications, we fully expect the decision document itself could run into hundreds of pages. Once we have received it, the document will need to be proof-read before hard copies are produced and bound for publication.”

This is the second application by TTR, which is about 45 per cent foreign-owned, to get approval for the project.

Its previous application was rejected by the EPA in 2014 but the company then modified its proposal and now describes the potential effects on the marine environment as “very small to negligible”. 

However, the application has attracted a great deal of opposition from iwi and hapu members in South Taranaki, as well as opposition from further afield.

Environmental groups including Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, along with fisheries companies, are opposing the mining permit, concerned about the impact on blue whales, Maui’s dolphins and other marine life.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, New Zealand

BCL determined not to take no for an answer!

Firm set to intensify community engagement

The National aka The Loggers Times | July 18, 2017

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) is set to intensify its community engagement activities as part of a comprehensive, staged development plan for a new Panguna mining project.

BCL chairman Rob Burns said a genuine commitment to stakeholder engagement underpinned the development plan and the company was putting in place resources and personnel to step up its on-the-ground activities in Bougainville over the coming months.

“We understand that building trust and widespread support among all relevant parties, as well as the people of Bougainville, is essential if the aim of renewing mining at Panguna is to be realised,” Burns said in a statement on the company’s website.

“By working collaboratively with all groups, we have every confidence that outstanding issues can be resolved and the necessary benchmarks can be met for the project to advance.”

BCL noted recent comments by a third-party company, RTG Mining Inc, that it had been nominated by one of nine landowner associations as a development partner in a Panguna project.

Burns said it was important to stress that BCL’s first right to develop the Panguna tenement was clear and unambiguous under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015.

He also noted RTG’s pledge to “fully respect” this right.

“There can be no doubt that we are committed to exercising our right through the implementation of our development plan, which has the full backing of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and broad endorsement among the landowner associations,” he said.

Burns said it was unfortunate that there was some dispute over the leadership of one of the nine landowner associations and Bougainville Copper Limited was hopeful of a lasting resolution of the issue and would continue to work with landowners.

“We know there are people with different views, but equally, we are encouraged by the levels of support we have received to date and will work hard to further build our relationships,” Burns said.

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Harmony Gold achieves fatality free quarter in SA and Papua New Guinea

Harmony Gold Mining’s Kusasalethu mine in South Africa

If a fatality free quarter is a ‘milestone’, how many deaths are normally recorded?

Harmony Gold Mining has announced that its South African and Papua New Guinean operations achieved a milestone fatality free quarter during the June 2017 quarter.

Mining Review Africa | 14 July 2017

Harmony gold’s gold production for the 30 June 2017 financial year is estimated to be 1.088 million oz, which exceeds production guidance of 1.05 million oz. Underground recovered grade increased for a fifth consecutive year to 5.07 g/t.

“We will continue to focus on increasing cash margins through safe, predictable and profitable production” says Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony.

Harmony will announce its operating and financial results for the year ended 30 June, 2017 on Thursday 17 August 2017, during a live presentation at the Hilton Hotel, Sandton, at 09h00 South African time.

In October last year Harmony Gold completed the acquisition of Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea.

The Hidden Valley mine is an open pit gold and silver mine, jointly owned and managed as part of the joint venture between Harmony and Newcrest Mining.

The mine is situated in the highly prospective area of the Morobe province in Papua New Guinea, some 210 km northwest of Port Moresby.

The major gold and silver deposits of the Morobe goldfield and Hidden Valley are hosted in the Wau Graben.

The Hidden Valley-Kaveroi and Hamata pits, located approximately 6 km apart, are in operation.

Ore mined is also treated at the Hidden Valley processing plant.

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Association in standoff with BCL

The National aka The Loggers Times | 14 July, 2017

THE Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners’ Association of the Panguna mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville continues to refuse to engage with the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

Association chairman Philip Miriori said they disagreed with the public statements made by the company recently.

“Interestingly, they also suggested they have every confidence that the outstanding issues can be resolved, and yet, they have never met with the owners of the minerals, the Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners’ Association, to negotiate and engage in a discussion with regard to their desire to benefit from, and more particularly, develop our minerals,” Miriori said.

“Further, BCL in its public statements places significant reliance on the reference to the other landowner groups. This is misleading because we are the only landowner association that owns the minerals.

“Accordingly, we are the only landowner association that can consent to access for the grant of an exploration licence. Without our consent, nothing will happen.

“We firmly believe all Bougainvilleans must benefit from the Panguna mine this time around. But at this stage, given we own the minerals, our consent is the only critical hurdle. And to date, they continue to ignore our wishes and treat us disrespectfully.”

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Caritas Calls For Halt To Experimental Deep Sea Mining

Caritas Aotearoa | SCOOP | 13 July 2017

“We call for an immediate halt to all deep-sea mining including exploratory testing as this will undermine the ability to achieve sustainable development goal 14” said Julianne Hickey, Director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, speaking in New York at an event associated with a United Nations High Level Political Forum on the progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

Mrs Hickey expressed deep concerns about the long-term impact on the oceans and marine life arising from experimental Deep Sea Mining.

“Such mining is far from being an established practice around the world. The technology involved is in its infancy and it is not credible to talk about so-called ‘best-practice’ regulatory regimes in the Oceania region. The fact is that many of the countries in which multinational mining corporations are seeking licenses do not have established regulatory scrutiny of such activities.”

“A factor that exacerbates the risks is the huge reliance of communities on the oceans. For example our community partners in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands rely on the oceans and healthy marine ecosystems for their very livelihoods” said Mrs Hickey.

But there was some good news too. Caritas welcomed two specific initiatives towards better care of the oceans and marine resources. In particular Mrs Hickey highlighted the development of special Marine Protection Areas in Tonga.

“The development of Marine Protection Areas at Felemea in the Ha’apai Islands of Tonga signals a very welcome approach to sustainable use practices in the region” said Mrs Hickey.

“We also acknowledge and welcome the move by the New Zealand government to ban plastic microbeads which have been shown to be harmful to waterways, fish and shellfish” said Mrs Hickey.

Mrs Hickey was speaking in New York this morning (NZ time) to an event associated with a United Nations High Level Political Forum on the progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals. The specific goal on which Mrs Hickey presented was Goal 14: conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources – with regard to the Oceania region.

Mrs Hickey is representing Caritas Oceania in order to ensure that the voices of Pacific peoples are heard on the world stage. Caritas works closely with partner organisations around the Pacific region – including Samoa, Kiribati, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Human rights, Mine construction, Pacific region, Papua New Guinea

Downturn in exploration affects jobs [oh, and our profits too!]

Nice bit of spin from the mining industry – all they care about is their own PROFITS not jobs for local people!

The great news is the people in the picture still have jobs living on and farming their own land. What the foreign mining execs are really worried about is losing their own jobs!

The truth is the foreign mining companies depend on PNG, but PNG does NOT need to depend on them. Sustainable development in PNG should be about agriculture, tourism and small manufacturing NOT big destructive mines!

Loop PNG | 11 July, 2017

A significant downturn in mineral exploration has resulted in loss of jobs and business opportunities in the country.

In its bi-monthly issue, the PNG Chamber of Mining and Petroleum highlighted the drop in exploration investment, which has the potential to severely impact the country’s mining sector.

In a survey conducted by the Chamber, covering the period between 2012 and 2015, mineral exploration expenditure dropped from a peak of K944.3 million in 2011 to K325.5 million in 2015.

This followed a near decade of high activity from 2003 to 2011.

The Chamber adds despite feasibility studies for the Frieda River and increased exploration expenditure in 2015 for the Wafi-Golpu Project, the overall expenditure was still well below 2013 levels.

The downturn has already affected many rural Papua New Guineans through the loss of direct employment and potential new business opportunities, while businesses and suppliers have also lost much-needed income as a result of many junior exploration companies ceasing their operations.

During the Chamber’s annual general meeting, president Gerea Aopi said this concern is exacerbated by the proposed changes to the mining act.

“We have to make every endeavour to ensure that this downward trend does not continue, although we have little or no control over the global commodity price market,” Aopi said.

“What PNG can control is the fiscal and legal frameworks that directly impact this sector. Our aim must be to ensure PNG can continue to grow existing projects and also foster an environment conducive to attract new investments.”

Aopi further added that the lodgment of Special Mining Lease applications for Frieda River and Wafi Golpu projects last year is an indication of why PNG must maintain its investment attractiveness.

“These projects are very important to the PNG economy as existing mines like Ok Tedi, Porgera and Lihir are in mature stages.

“Both projects, when developed, will have positive economic impact for PNG and together with the operating mines, could place PNG as one of the top copper and gold producers in the world,” he said.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick Kitaun, Caritas PNG Coordinator:

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

Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors:

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea