Category Archives: Human rights

Govt Announces Action To Resolve Basamuk Los Concerns

Landowners forced to take out media adverts to make Minister aware of human rights and other serious issues relating to MCC and the Ramu mine refinery

Post Courier | November 15, 2018

Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke has announced immediate action will take place to address the concerns of the Basamuk Limestone landowners of Madang Province.

Speaking from Goroka, yesterday, Mr Tuke said he was not aware of the alleged criticisms nor the human rights abuses and complaints made by the landowners until he sighted the one-page overly media release in this paper yesterday.

Mr Tuke said that he would in the next couple of days summon all concerned parties to his office for answers.

“I appreciate the concerns of the Basamuk landowners and I am now very aware of the matter so in the coming days I will call up the MCC and Ramu NiCo Management, the Mineral Resources Authority, Department of Mineral Policy and Geo-Hazards Management, CEPA, and other government agencies involved in this matter to sit with me and tell me what is going on,” he said.

“As the minister responsible for this mega industry, I cannot allow things like this to remain unattended to because our people, the landowners, are important in the mining equation just as the investors who bring in the dollars and development into our mining areas.”

Mr Tuke has asked that all landowners give him time to deal with the issues they have outlined and not take the matter into their own hands.

“I am just as concerned as you are so I ask you my people not to take any actions that will undermine the positive developments that are currently being initiated by the O’Neill-Abel Government, Governor Peter Yama and the Madang Provincial Government, and your local members Jimmy Uguro of Usino-Bundi, Peter Sapia of Rai Coast, and Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Limited for the betterment of Madang,’’ he said.

“I ask you not to set up roadblocks and cause any other disturbances that may affect production because I as your minister, will take this matter up and seek the answers you desire.

“I will make sure the company MCC will be answerable and attend to all the outstanding issues.”

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Major Project Agreements Must Be Reviewed To Benefit PNG

There have been many complaints of a lack of benefits coming from the LNG project Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

The Current Business Model and Tax Concessions are Cheating PNG of Revenues and Landowner Benefits

Post Courier | November 15, 2018

In the period leading up to and eventual start of the multi-billion kina PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in 2014, there was much fanfare and grandstanding of the promise/premise that the project would single-handedly transform PNG.

In fact, the project has delivered some much-needed tangible developments in terms of major infrastructure, additional employment and spin-off business opportunities as well as foreign exchange revenue. However, there are still many unresolved issues that demand National Government’s most swift and appropriate remedial action.

On October 30 2018, it was reported (Post-Courier) complaints by Paguale Kekero resources landowners association from Southern Highlands Province over benefits from the PNG LNG project. The report referred to major clans with population of over 2000 people “left in the dark on LNG project benefits” – royalty and equity payments.

Their complaints followed a public statement on October 25 2018 by Mineral Resource Development Company (MRDC) Managing Director Augustine Mano of PNG LNG pipeline landowners receiving benefits. The concerns relate to Paguale Kekero resource owners not signing any agreement in the Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement under the Greenfield and future generations benefits.

The Paguale Kekero landowners concerns are among numerous other claims and counter-claims, be the genuine, not genuine or combination of both. So, the over-orchestrated myth of massive and immediate socio-economic transformation in the livelihood of resource owners, others in the project area and PNG as a whole is increasingly becoming a far-fetch tale.

PNG-wide, similar sentiments have been expressed over resource ownership, equity participation and the sharing of wealth generated from mineral, oil and gas reserves. As more resource owners become aware of their missed opportunities, there is mounting support from indigenous people for greater benefit from what is taken out of their land and sea.

They are rightly doing so because if anyone, these people and their ancestors have been living on and off that land or sea for over 40,000 years from one generation to next. Whilst PNG authorities continue to grapple with this contentious issue, plans are afoot for the ownership of resources to be transferred from the State as is the norm currently to the resource owners.

There has also been numerous calls for a comprehensive review of existing memorandum of agreements (MOAs) with project developers and provinces they are located. Some serious questions remain unanswered in the manner in which past governments proceeded to signing certain major project agreements. In fact, these are still burning issues that need government action by way of review of project agreements.

In that way, many landowner related issues and concerns, equity participation, wealth sharing and tax revenue can be addressed and resolved amicably.

The government must take heed of these concerns and start reviewing major project agreements. The underlying objective must be to cater for increased local equity participation by way of buying shares in these big resource development projects.

On May 14 2013, former Public Enterprises Minister Ben Micah while answering questions in Parliament alluded to the loss of millions of kina in tax revenue resulting from tax exemptions. Mr Micah’s comments may not have attracted much attention, but what he said then is still relevant day and needs follow-up action. There is nothing wrong for the government to admit fault, but take appropriate remedial actions to correct any wrongs of the past in PNG’s national interest and benefit.

A government decision for comprehensive review of agreements the State had entered into with developers in major projects would be well-received and welcomed nationwide. There are numerous concerns and un-answered questions that need clarification for and on behalf of the majority PNG citizens.

Today, questions are still asked why the Ramu Nickel project agreement was signed in China.

What input did relevant PNG State agencies, including Justice and Attorney General, Department of Finance, Commerce and Industry, Customs and Internal Revenue Commission and the Madang Provincial Government have in the Ramu Nickel project?

In December 2013, some agreements were reached and the review of the Ramu Nickel agreement was concluded and signed by relevant stakeholders. That is exactly why reviews in all project agreements are necessary and should be done within the time frame specified in such MOAs.

It must be mandatory and strictly adhered to by all parties. Failure by any of the parties to that MOA should be made to heavily compensate any breaches. There need to be a review of the current business model of the PNG LNG Project.

The review must reveal how exactly PNG entities and individual citizens are benefiting from all segments of the PNG LNG Project.
As it is, PNG is mostly benefiting from only one segment of the project while foreign investors take away much of the profits generated from the other segments.

This is because at the time of signing the project agreement the government then rejected outright the professional and technical advice in adopting the business plan. The LNG Project was and still is far important to the future economic health and well-being of PNG. It single-handedly underpins the future economic advancement of PNG.

This was fully recognised by then government and the technical team was task to deliver the project within the ambit of this objective. The technical team was convinced that the business model for the LNG Project had to be structured in the way, so that PNG and landowners were drivers of the projects, rather than mere bystanders, if the above objective was to be realised.

Under the business plan recommended by the technical team, The National Government, provincial governments, local level governments, landowners and other PNG citizens were to have fully participated through share equity in all segments of the project.

This means, under the aborted business model, various PNG entities and groups would have invested and benefit in all segments from upstream, pipeline, processing facilities, shipping and marketing. Unfortunately, this one-in-a-life time investment opportunities for PNG citizens was denied when the government opted to adopting a totally different business model. There were serious concerns and perception among various stakeholders that the originally well-intended ideals of this project was hijacked.

The Ministerial Committee on the LNG Project appointed by the National Executive Council totally ignored and ultimately rejected the business model recommended by the technical team.

Under the current model, the State, provincial governments and landowners are to participate ONLY at the UPSTREAM, by exercising their 22.5 per cent rights under the Oil and Gas legislation. Other than that they have no participation or interests in other segments of the project, namely pipeline, processing facility, marketing and shipping.

Under the current business model, the State and the landowners are complete bystanders, with no tangible control and ownership in the project. This business model defeats original Government policy ambition as well as political and economic aspirations of PNG.

If is it not too late and so there should be review into the business model of the PNG LNG Project to allow the National Government, provincial governments, local level governments, super funds, national owned businesses and individuals to buy shares in all segments of the project.

The current business model must be re-structured to enable maximum participation of government, landowners, and provincial governments, in all segment of the LNG Project.

Allow PNG and its citizens to retain the majority ownership of the complete PNG LNG project chain.

The government should also review the substantial tax exemptions given to the PNG LNG project. This government is in the best possible position to carry out a thorough review of all tax and fiscal exemptions granted to the developers of the PNG LNG project.

Among the concessions for review should include:

  • 30 per cent Corporate Tax rate;
  • Waiver of the 2 per cent Fiscal Stability premium;
  • Foundation Volume pf 10.5tcf;
  • State Carry;
  • Excise and Import Duty Exceptions during construction phase;
  • Special Tax Credits;
  • Applicable Interest to State’s back-in Costs; and
  • Oil to Gas Tax rate Conversion.

The concessions could well have resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of kina in State revenue. The government is morally obliged and duty bound to direct for full review of all major projects so that shares are floated for PNG owned entities and individuals buy into the projects. Then only can PNG citizens boasting of benefiting from resources found in their land and sea. Otherwise so-called landowners and PNG people are fighting among ourselves for bones and crumbs.

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PNG experimental seabed mining project another ‘failed investment’, says ex-minister

The proposed production method for Solwara 1 Project. Image Nautilus

Pacific Media Centre | November 14, 2018

The controversial Nautilus Solwara 1 deep sea mining project has been accused of being another Papua New Guinean government “failed investment” on the verge of bankruptcy, claim campaigners citing a former attorney-general.

In a statement by the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, former PNG Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Sir Arnold Amet is quoted as saying:

“Nautilus is propped up by US$15 million in loans from its two major shareholders, it’s been forced to reduce its workforce and to terminate contracts for the construction of equipment.”

“Even the production support vessel crucial to Nautilus operations has had to be shelved due to failure to pay the shipyard constructing it,” he said.

“And Nautilus is now virtually worthless with its shares at a new record low of less than 10c  each.”

Deep Sea Mining Campaign said Nautilus was still desperately seeking funds for its flagship Solwara 1 deep sea mining project, while its commercial operation had been delayed ever since it first received its licence to mine the floor of the Bismarck Sea in 2011.

As a final attempt to save Solwara 1, Nautilus’s two largest shareholders, Russian mining company Metalloinvest and Omani conglomerate MB Holdings, formed a new company to secure funding for the Solwara 1 project, but this rescue attempt has gone in vain.

“Nautilus is due to repay the US$15 million loans to Metalloinvest and MB Holdings on January 8. How will it achieve this? There’s no likelihood of production starting until the end of 2019 or even later,” said Sir Arnold.

Economic burden

“I am really worried that the PNG government invested heavily to purchase 15 percent of a company that will be a burden to our economy. Our country’s over-extended finances may have to contend with a 15 percent stake in Nautilus’ bankruptcy,” he said.

Sir Arnold stated his position by urging the PNG government to terminate the contract with Nautilus so save the country’s money.

“Wiser investors such as Anglo American and Loews Corporation got rid of their shares early this year to reduce their exposure to risk. The PNG government should terminate its contract with Nautilus now before it sacrifices even more of our nation’s funds,” he said.

“In light of PNG hosting the APEC Summit at the end of this week it is important to highlight risky commercial ventures such as Nautilus Solwara 1 project that have used scarce public funds over environmental safeguards, regulatory frameworks and the livelihoods of our coastal peoples.”

Papua New Guinea is hosting the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summi later this week, which is said to have been a huge financial load for the economically challenged country.

While the PNG government prepares for the summit, the country is going through many health crises including re-emerging of eradicated disease such as polio, violations of human rights against the people of Paga Hill, and extravagant spending for 40 Maserati luxury sedans, reports Pauline Mago-King of Asia Pacific Report.

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Amend Resource Ownership Law: Group

Yombi Kep | Post Courier | November 13, 2018

The Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea applauded the move made by former Primes Ministers, Sir Julius Chan and Sir Mekere Morauta in Parliament to change ownership laws in the country.

In a statement, the federation said that it appreciates the admissions by Sir Julius Chan and Sir Mekere Morauta in September parliament sitting, that the ownership laws of the country are wrong and needed to be changed to restore ownership of mineral and petroleum resources by those who own the land beneath which the resources are found.

“The Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea is pleased to note that the leaders of the country are realising they have in the past been deceived into giving up their mineral and petroleum resources free of charge to foreign companies and their shareholders, without any direct or indirect benefit to the country and its citizens including and especially the resource owners,” the federation said.

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Nautilus and Barrick Gold guilty of double standards

International Mining Companies have Colonial and Racist Double Standards

A case study comparing the performance of Canadian mining companies in their home country to their performance overseas has found dramatic double standards.

The the study has been published by the prestigious Peter Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.

The report finds Canadian mining companies have been involved in major human rights violations in developing nations including slavery and forced labour, violence against unarmed protestors, sexual violence against women and gang rapes.

Despite the international condemnation of these actions, Canada has failed regulate the behaviour of its companies in their overseas operations.

The study provides a comparison of the regulatory regime for extractive companies operating in Canada versus that in Papua New Guinea.

The study shows how Canadian companies operating in Papua New Guinea, Nautilus Minerals and Barrick Gold, fail to maintain the same standards that apply in their home country.

The double standards apply across the whole spectrum of their operations including environmental assessment and consultation, forced evictions and other human rights abuses, violence and access to the courts, access to information and respect for free prior informed consent.

The report calls for mining companies to apply the same practices and standards across all countries where they operate and for accountability to be enforceable in their home nations.

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BHP Billiton facing £5bn lawsuit from Brazilian victims of dam disaster

Ruined homes in the small town of Bento Rodrigues, Brazil after the disaster. Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

Action launched in Liverpool against Anglo-Australian mining company after 2015 tragedy that killed 19 people

Jonathan Watts | The Guardian | 6 November 2018 

The worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history has triggered one of the biggest legal claims ever filed in a British court.

The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton is being sued for about £5bn by Brazilian victims of the Samarco dam collapse in Mariana three years ago.

The class action case was filed in the Liverpool high court on Monday by the UK-based SPG Law on behalf of 240,000 individuals, 24 municipal governments, 11,000 businesses, a Catholic archdiocese and the Krenak indigenous community.

Nineteen people died after toxic waters from the failed tailings dam surged through the village of Bento Rodrigues on 5 November 2015. The sludge destroyed hundreds of homes, devastated fisheries, contaminated forests and left hundreds of thousands of dwellers along the Doce River without drinking water.

It emerged that the company had accurately predicted the risks in a worst-case assessment made six months earlier. Prosecutors charged senior executives of the dam operator Samarco Mineração with homicide and accused its parent companies – Vale and BHP Billiton – of environment damage.

A civil case has been filed in Brazilian courts, but the plaintiffs believe they have more chance to get fair and speedy compensation in Britain than in their home country, where courts can take more than a decade to reach a judgement and compensation offers are far short of the damages incurred.

Lawyers in the UK say that, in certain cases, they will seek 10 to 20 times the damages being offered to individuals in Brazil. For example, individuals who lost their water supply for two weeks have been offered £200 in Brazil whereas £2,000 to £4000 will be claimed in the UK. Fishermen who have only been offered £20,000 each to cover the losses associated with three years’ worth of catches will be seeking 20 years’ worth of future losses based on the slow pace of river recovery. Local governments will demand lost tax revenues and compensation for increased health and unemployment costs.

If jurisdiction in the UK is accepted, the lawsuit is likely to raise the international profile of the case. The first hearing would be next summer and the case could last two to five years. Representatives from the affected communities will be called to testify in Liverpool along with expert witnesses, including Brazilian lawyer Érica Gorga.

Tom Goodhead of the Anglo-American SPG Law firm said many of the plaintiffs suffered catastrophic losses yet received almost no compensation after three years in contravention of Brazilian law which says full damages should be paid and the environment be completely restored after an accident.

“Brazil’s courts are cripplingly slow,” he said. “The main purpose of filing this case in the UK is to move at greater speed and to seek a greater amount. People have been let down by the politicians and the courts. We tell them there is no guarantee of winning, but we will put up a proper fight on their behalf.”

The law firm will work on a no-win no-fee basis, taking a maximum of 30% of any compensation they are able to secure for the plaintiffs. This will not be levied in the case of the indigenous community. SPG Law has already spent £1.5m on the case and estimates future costs of £18m, according to Goodhead.

BHP Billiton has yet to respond to a request for a comment, but in previous statements to the Guardian, Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton said they rejected the charges, that safety had been and remained a priority and that the dam complied with Brazilian legislation. The companies have said they would defend their employees and executives.

Separately from the civil action in Brazil, the three companies made a deal with the federal and state governments in March 2016 to carry out repair, restoration and reconstruction programmes. They have spent more than $1bn on a huge clean-up and relief operation, separate from civil actions launched by prosecutors.

Samarco has paid about $6.7m in fines levied separately by the state government of Minas Gerais. BHP has also announced that it is working on restoring the affected area through a charitable foundation.

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Fighting at LNG site poses threat to workers: Police

PNG Liquefied Natural Gas Plant near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.Photographer: Richard Dellman via ExxonMobil Corp.

The National aka The Loggers Times | November 5, 2018

POLICE are concerned that bad blood between a group of Highlanders and locals at the liquefied natural gas site in Gulf over a sorcery-related killing is posing a threat to the company.

Provincial police commander Inspector Silva Sika said the killing at an LNG site village had led to frequent rows and fighting, making it unsafe for the workers.

The deceased was originally from Lufa in Eastern Highlands.

“Police will be deployed again to the site to settle the situation and protect others from outside (the province) working there,” Sika said.

He said relatives of the deceased had attacked the suspect’s brother at the Wabo sub-station village.

Earlier they kidnapped four locals using guns and bush knives and destroyed gardens and crops. Police had settled the matter but trouble started again. Police said they had to make arrests but after few weeks tensions rose again between the groups.

“I have done peace and agreements between the groups but it suddenly started again,” he said.

The deceased was found floating in the river near the village close to the LNG site.

At least one person out of 10 accused of sorcery has been killed and one-third were permanently injured, a joint study by three universities in three provinces revealed.

The research recorded 357 sorcery accusation cases from Enga, Bougainville and Port Moresby between January 2016 and October 2017.

There were 185 victims and at least 20 people killed, with a large number suffering permanent physical injuries. Australian National University Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth said the study was undertaken by the university, the PNG National Research Institute and Divine Word University supported by the Australian government through Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Programme.

Forsyth said of the cases identified in Enga, at least 37 per cent of the incidents resulted in killing through the use of torture, followed by seven per cent of cases in Bougainville and four per cent of cases in Port Moresby.

She said that four per cent of cases in Enga resulted in tribal fighting.

The study revealed that 63 per cent of the total in Enga resulted in major physical violence and so did 36 per cent in Bougainville and 31 per cent in Port Moresby,”

Sixty-seven per cent of the cases in Enga resulted in the burning of the accused, seven per cent in Bougainville and eight per cent in Port Moresby.

Other forms of accusation included forced imprisonment, damage of property, threats, minor physical violence and clothing removed.

The PNG government developed a comprehensive sorcery and witchcraft accusation-related violence (SARV) national action plan in 2015 to address the problem of sorcery accusation-related violence.

The Australian government is working in partnership with Papua New Guinea in all core areas through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Programmeand justice services and stability for development programmes.

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