Category Archives: Human rights

LNG army call-out unsuccessful

Photo: AFP

Post Courier | February 16,2017

THE CALL-OUT operation in Hela Province has not been successful because high powered firearms have not yet been surrendered since the operation started two months ago.

This has forced the Hela provincial government to look at ways to introduce a provincial executive council decision to have a buy-back gun program.

Hela Governor Francis Potape said that more than a month has passed but the gun surrender was not happening in Hela, adding that only homemade guns had been surrendered.

Commenting on the issue, Police Commissioner Gari Baki said while he is unable to give the number of weapons returned, police would be moving in to confiscate weapons from known owners, when the moratorium expired.

“We have intelligence reports on all people in possession of firearms that have not surrendered.”

“We will go directly to them, if they still have weapons within the vicinity of their areas, we will arrest them, whether they are leaders or ordinary people, that’s the arrangement we are taking now.”

Commissioner Baki added that he did not think that the rate of factory made weapons returned was a success and that was why the police needed to take a different approach.

The moratorium should be an ideal environment to have all factory made weapons returned”, he said.

Meanwhile, PNG Defence Force Lieutenant-Colonel John Manuai confirmed that they were not able to do their work effectively when funding was not coming on time to assist them with logistics as required by soldiers and police in such operations, besides allowances.

“Allowance is just one aspect but the operational requirement is another thing that will make our work effective to achieve results,” he said.

Lt-Col Manuai who flew to Port Moresby yesterday said that he would follow up on the issues including timely release of funds and the requirements for the operations when he meets with the Chief Secretary.

He said it would be better if the funds are released for the police or the defence force to control.

Meanwhile attempts to contact the Prime Minister’s department, Mr Lupari and Director National Security Advisory Council coordinator Tony Kaip have been unsuccessful.

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Strong opposition to NZ seabed mining proposal at EPA hearings

seabed-mining-protest

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining | Scoop NZ | February 15, 2017

When seabed mining hearings open in Wellington today, the strength of opposition will be apparent to the Environmental Protection Authority, said Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) today.

The EPA is hearing a renewed application by mining company Trans-Tasman Resources to dig up 50 million tonnes of the seabed a year in a 66 sq. km section of the South Taranaki Bight – for 35 years. The EPA refused the company a consent in 2014. They have now re-applied.

“It is clear from the hearing schedule and the more than 13,500 individual submissions that there is little support for this proposal,” said Phil McCabe, KASM Chairperson.

“While the EPA has not released its analysis of the submissions as it did last time yet, it is clear that the vast majority of those who spoke out are against this destructive practice.”

There are three times as many submitters as for the first application.

Members of the public opposed to the application will gather outside the venue at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, when the hearings open.

Inside, the first day will see opening statements in opposition from KASM, whose lawyers will also represent Greenpeace, from almost the whole of the country’s fishing industry, including fishing giants Talley’s and the Maori Fisheries company Te Ohu Kaimoana, and from the Royal Forest & Bird Society and Origin Energy.

The strength of Maori opposition will be evident at the hearings in New Plymouth, the only venue outside Wellington, on 6 March.

“All the local Iwi are opposing this proposal. KASM has supported calls by the Iwi for hearings in the communities that would be most affected by the seabed mining.”

The process has been marked by extensive procedural wrangling. KASM late last year applied to the Environment Court to force release of crucial environmental information that had been withheld by the EPA. The Environment Court agreed, ordering release of the material.

“KASM will continue to fight for public participation,” said McCabe. “Most recently we objected strongly to the decision of the committee not to allow cross examination. If anything, in light of the fact that the EPA has turned down two applications, there should be more scrutiny than ever on this proposal.”

McCabe also slammed the Department of Conservation for refusing to make a submission, when, in the first application by Trans Tasman Resources in 2013, DOC made extensive submissions, particularly on the conditions for any consent, which was ultimately refused

“DOC has ditched its responsibility to protect the world’s most endangered dolphin, the Maui dolphin, despite the mine site being in its southern habitat. DOC’s lack of engagement in this process is shocking,” he said.

KASM experts will be giving evidence next week. These include:

• Blue whale expert Dr Leigh Torres (Tuesday February 21), who has been studying the presence and behaviour of blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight. Dr Torres is out in the Bight right now, on another research expedition where she is looking for confirmation of her theory that the Bight is not only a feeding ground for the blue whales, but could also be a breeding ground for a New Zealand-specific population. See her evidence here.

• Dr John Cockrem of Massey University (Wednesday February 22), one of the country’s leading experts in the little penguin – Korora, or Blue Penguin – whose populations are in decline. The plume from the seabed mining could affect the food and feeding grounds of these birds, and others. See his evidence here.

• Economist Jim Binney (Thursday 23 February) has challenged the methodology Trans-Tasman Resources has used to extrapolate its economic benefits and job creation from the proposal. He argues they should have used the Treasury’s recommended cost benefit analysis methodology and that they should have valued environmental and social costs. See his evidence here.

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SME mining creating jobs for youths in Bulolo

alluvial watut

Post Courier | February 14, 2017

A SMALL to medium enterprise (SME) in Bulolo, Morobe Province is having a positive impact on youths in this area.

TRocks Construction Ltd  owned by Berldon Timah is a four-month old small scale alluvial mining company. Mr Timah said to date the company has created jobs for 48 workers who have been rostered on two shifts. He said business has been good but more could be achieved particularly for the youths in these rural areas through government intervention.

Apart from this venture, Mr Timah has established a small foundation in the area which provides help for the local schools, not just in this area but to neighboring Eastern Highlands Province as well. Timah says of the revenue generated from his projects 10 per cent goes towards the foundation’s activities.

Meanwhile, the foundation, with support from Mr Timah’s company has provided help by assisting disadvantaged communities with road projects and other basic services.

The foundation has also funded school infrastructure and supplies in the Eastern Highlands and Morobe Provinces.

Mr Timah said all his work was not to gain glory but to help give back to the community.

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Government to pay Ramu mine landholders

After nine years of operation, the stakeholders have not seen the benefits

Tax holidays mean the Chinese are still digging for free at the Ramu mine

Why is the government having to pay out K20 million when it receives no revenues from the Chinese owned Ramu mine? Isn’t the point of these large-scale resource extraction projects that they contribute to government revenues – not add another drain on taxpayers money? 

Ramu Nickel/Cobalt project LOs to get K10m in Business Development Grants

Post Courier | February 13, 2017

THE impacted landowners of the Ramu Nickel/Cobalt project in Madang have welcomed the announcement by Government that it will pay the balance of K10 million owed to them.

This is in Business Development Grants (BDG).

‘The assurance was given by Mining Minister Byron Chan after Usino/Bundi MP Anton Yagama had raised the issue on the floor of parliament.

Chairman of Kurumbukari landowners association Tobby Bare, in welcoming the announcement said the initial commitment of K20 million had been made by the former Somare Government.

However, this commitment had been honoured by the O’Neill Government, with the first K10 million being paid.

Mr Bare said the landowners were grateful to the O’Neill Government and had urged that the balance be paid before the 2017 General Elections.

He said given the downturn in the PNG economy, the landowners had great difficulties in securing business opportunities and added that the funds would provide some relief.

“While other landowner companies in other project area have been able to progress, we have been struggling,” Mr Bare said.

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Iwi criticises lack of notice by NZ EPA of ironsand mining application hui

ttr-application-map

Trans Tasman Resources have applied to mine iron ore from a 66-square kilometre area off the South Taranaki coast.

Stuff NZ | February 10 2017

Taranaki iwi say they were not given enough notice of a conference being held today ahead of a hearing on plans to mine millions of tonnes of iron-laden sand off the southern Taranaki coast.

More than 13,733 submissions have been received over Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) bid to mine the seabed off Patea.

Next Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency will begin its hearing on the application in Wellington.

Today, Friday, the EPA is holding a pre-hearing conference at the Westpac Stadium – but iwi say they only had a week’s notice as the hearing was announced on an EPA website the day the long Waitangi Day weekend began.

“Announcing a hui to consider critical matters of the hearing process with only a week’s notice, requiring RSVP only two working days later, speaks volumes to the very concerns iwi and others in the South Taranaki community have about the EPA process,” Kaitumuaki Cassandra Crowley, of Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust, said.

She said iwi found out about the pre-hearing conference while searching for updates on the application.

“At such short notice, it is difficult for iwi and many other Taranaki community-based submitters and individuals to attend a hui in Wellington.”

Crowley said critical technical submissions would be determined at the conference.

The iwi questioned whether the EPA had sufficient resources to properly assess the application, she said.

They also wanted to know why hearings were being held away from the affected area and where the most affected people were based.

EPA principal communications advisor Helen Corrigan said the EPA did have sufficient resources to process the TTR application.

She said the decision-making committee advised on February 3 that a pre-hearing conference would be held on February 10  at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

This was posted on the EPA’s website on February 3 and all submitters and the applicant were notified the same day.

Submitters who indicated in their submission they could receive electronic correspondence were emailed on February 3 and submitters who had indicated in their submission they could not receive electronic correspondence were sent a letter on the same day.

TTR first lodged an application to mine off the South Taranaki coastline in 2013. This was subsequently rejected by the EPA.

The current application was lodged last year and, like the original application, has been met by strong opposition within South Taranaki.

Local iwi Ngāruahine, Ngaa Rauru and Ngāti Ruanui have expressed concerns about the EPA process throughout the latest application.

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How West Papua’s gold rush has created a wasteland: lush tropical riverland is laid waste by toxic dumping from the world’s biggest gold mine 

Dead trees affected by gold mine waste, known as tailings are seen in Timika. Indonesia produces over $70billion in gold a year but the local people in West Papua rarely see any of that money

Dead trees affected by gold mine waste, known as tailings are seen in Timika. Indonesia produces over $70billion in gold a year but the local people in West Papua rarely see any of that money

  •  In 1969 Indonesia annexed what had been Dutch New Guinea after a highly ‘Act of Free Choice’ referendum 
  •  Since then the area, whose indigenous people are ethnically similar to Papua New Guineans, has been  swamped by settlers from other over-crowded Indonesian islands
  • West Papua is home to the world’s third largest copper mine and large deposits of gold have also been found
  • But the gold rush at the Grasberg mine has devastated the ecology of the rivers which run through the area
  • Indonesia is accused by an Australian group of a ‘slow-motion genocide’ against indigenous West Papuans 

Chris Summers | Mail Online | 6 February 2017

The western half of the island of New Guinea is rich in minerals, especially copper and gold, but its discovery has been a very mixed blessing for the local people.

It was the Dutch who first discovered minerals on the island in the 1930s and when the Netherlands cut its ties with the colony in the late 1960s it was the presence of the goodies underground which tempted neighbouring Indonesia. 

What had been Dutch New Guinea was annexed by Indonesia in 1969 after a highly questionable referendum, known as the ‘Act of Free Choice’. 

An illegal gold prospector sifts through sand and rock as she pans for gold in Timika. Indigenous tribes in West Papua such as the Kamoro are still trying to get their fair share of the country's wealth

An illegal gold prospector sifts through sand and rock as she pans for gold in Timika. Indigenous tribes in West Papua such as the Kamoro are still trying to get their fair share of the country’s wealth

The indigenous people, who are ethnically Melanesian, mainly Christian, and kinfolk of neighbouring Papua New Guinea, have been oppressed ever since by Muslim Indonesian settlers and Jakarta’s occupying army. 

In 1971 Melanesians made up 96 percent of the population but now they are in a minority and by 2020, if migration rates remain the same, they will be less than three in 10 of the population. 

The West Papuans have also suffered as the land they depend on has been devastated by mining.

A man wearing a Santa Claus hat pans for gold in the Aikwa riverbed. According to reports, the Grasberg mine, owned Freeport McMoran, dumps as much as 200,000 tonnes of mine waste directly into the Aikwa delta system every day, turning thousands of hectares of forest and mangroves into wasteland

A man wearing a Santa Claus hat pans for gold in the Aikwa riverbed. According to reports, the Grasberg mine, owned Freeport McMoran, dumps as much as 200,000 tonnes of mine waste directly into the Aikwa delta system every day, turning thousands of hectares of forest and mangroves into wasteland

Indigenous tribes like the Kamoro say they have been hit by disease, poverty and environmental degradation since operations began at the Grasberg mine in 1973. 

Their chief, Hironimus Urmani, told The Guardian: ‘Nature is a blessing from God, and we are known by the three S’s: Sago (trees), sampan (canoes) and Sungani (rivers). But life is very difficult now.’

The Free West Papua movement has been demanding independence for the territory but has struggled to gain attention in a world distracted by other issues. 

The Grasberg mine is owned by an American firm, Freeport McMoRan, which is based in Arizona. They did not respond to Mail Online’s request for a response.

The Aikwa river flows into the ocean but nowadays it is virtually an outflow pipe of the Grasberg gold and copper mine

The Aikwa river flows into the ocean but nowadays it is virtually an outflow pipe of the Grasberg gold and copper mine

The gold mine waste, known as tailings, has killed off thousands of trees in the Aikwa river delta

The gold mine waste, known as tailings, has killed off thousands of trees in the Aikwa river delta

The Aikwa river is so polluted by mine waste that all the fish in it have long ago died off and the water is completely undrinkable. All it is good for now is gold prospecting

The Aikwa river is so polluted by mine waste that all the fish in it have long ago died off and the water is completely undrinkable. All it is good for now is gold prospecting

Most prospectors are able to obtain around a gram of gold per day, which they can sell for around £25. It takes a keen eye to spot the tiny dots of gold in the murky water

Kamoro tribespeople working on the devices they use to catch gold in the Aikwa river. The Grasberg mine allegedly dumps as much as 200,000 tonnes of mine waste directly into the Aikwa delta system every day, turning thousands of hectares of forest and mangroves into wasteland

Kamoro tribespeople working on the devices they use to catch gold in the Aikwa river. The Grasberg mine allegedly dumps as much as 200,000 tonnes of mine waste directly into the Aikwa delta system every day, turning thousands of hectares of forest and mangroves into wasteland

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Government allocates additional K2m for Hela LNG Operation

Police and soldiers in Papua New Guinea wait to board a flight to the Hela Province highlands. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Police and soldiers wait to board a flight to Hela Province  (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

NBC | One Papua New Guinea | 4 February 2017

The National Government has allocated another K2 million for the special law and order call-out operations in Hela province.

Governor, Francis Potape, revealed to NBC News that the K2 million adds to an initial K11 million allocation for the operation.

Mr. Potape says, the additional funding is to cater for local police who were overlooked in the initial funding.

“The callout operations is going good so far.

“We had 200 manpower, 150 are policemen and 40 or 50 soldiers.

“So bulk of the security forces are in Tari but we have a team in Koroba and also in Komo and Magarima.

“We had 3 gun surrenders. Some highpowered guns have been returned. Those are not the guns that we are expecting. We want more guns to come out. We wanted it to be faster but its bit slow.

“So the provincial government in consultation with the security forces we’ve set a deadline for each LLG’s, and all the guns and all the warlords from the LLG’s must surrender your weapons on that day. And it will start on the 13th.13th of February in Hulia and 14th for South Koroba and 15 so we have 13 LLG’s so everything starts on the 13th”.

Weapons surrendered during the call out will be destroyed on the 27th February while the first phase of the call out is expected to end on the 28th.

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