Category Archives: Mine construction

Bougainville President launches stinging attack on RTG

A lake in the pit of the long defunct Panguna mine in Bougainville. Photo:

President John Momis is stinging in his criticism of RTG Mining but the same critique surely applies equally to his own preferred option, Caballus Mining, and the previous horse he backed, BCL…

Radio New Zealand |19 March 2019 

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville has dashed any hope it would work with the Australian miner, RTG, accusing the company of bribery.

The Bougainville government and RTG are promoting unrelated schemes to re-open the Panguna mine.

After a meeting between the two parties earlier this month, RTG’s chairman Michael Garrick felt they got a good hearing and there was a chance they’d work together in re-developing Panguna.

But Bougainville President John Momis said his government is emphatically rejecting the offer, and accuses the company of insensitivity and disregard for the customs, culture and sacrifice of all the people of Bougainville.

He said RTG’s achievements as a miner are limited and investors have no faith in its ability to deliver.

Granting a mining lease to RTG would pose an intolerable risk, Mr Momis said.

Mr Momis said payments and loans the government understands that RTG gave to members of one particular group of landowners, the Special Mining Lease Osikaiang Landowners Authority, constitute bribery, as do similar offers made to his government during the recent meeting.

Relevant agencies in PNG and Australia would be notified, he said.


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Filed under Corruption, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

PNG minister issues warning over Panguna re-opening

Radio New Zealand | 18 March 2019

Papua New Guinea’s minister of Bougainville Affairs, William Samb, has called on the Bougainville government to forget about talking to investors in the Panguna mine until after the referendum on independence.

New Dawn FM reported Mr Samb was speaking during a Bougainville government roadshow around Bougainville that is explaining the referendum process.

His comments came after the government unveiled controversial plans to start its own company to re-open the mine, teaming up with a newly set up Australian company.

This has riled at least two other foreign investors who had been planning similar moves.

A year ago the government had declared a moratorium on opening Panguna but changed tack suddenly in January, saying it needed to open the mine to stimulate the economy ahead of the referendum vote in October.

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Filed under Bougainville, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

Kingston seeks to reboot gold mining on Misima Island

Work on Misima. Source: Kingston Resources

Sarah Byrne | Business Advantage | 18 March 2019

Drilling new targets and locating starter pits are the key focus for junior miner Kingston Resources, as it seeks to revive gold mining on Papua New Guinea’s Misima Island. Managing Director Andrew Corbett reveals the company’s plans to Business Advantage PNG.

With positive drill results to date, Kingston Resources Managing Director Andrew Corbett is confident further exploration will lead to finding new gold resources on Misima Island in Louisiade Archipelago, Milne Bay Province.

‘This year is about following up on the targets we identified through our successful geochemical exploration program in 2018. Identifying near-surface ounces at these targets will allow us to recover capital expenditure, reduce the pay back period and therefore, decrease risk.’

The company is ramping up exploration and plans to drill a range of targets across at least four areas within a few kilometres of the original Misima open pit mine, which operated between 1989 and 2004.

‘We aren’t looking to extend the current resource, we are locating new targets in areas with no previous exploration,’ he says.

Locating starter pits will be the key to reviving the project, according to Corbett.

‘We are ramping up exploration and from what we’ve seen so far, there is great potential at Misima, which is exciting for the team.’


Kingston’s interest in Misima is driven by the project’s potential to become a large, long-life project, which Corbett says is rare for a junior company.

Juniors have great capacity to take risks by developing new and interesting projects that larger, more risk-averse companies don’t pursue, he adds.

While confident in the outlook for mining projects in Papua New Guinea, Corbett says access to funding is always a focus.

‘At the moment, a lot of the activity is coming from the major players, and it can be difficult for juniors to secure funding.’

In a bid to lessen its need for external funding, the company’s Livingstone project in Western Australia is seen as a potential funding source for Misima.

‘We are continuing to advance Livingstone, this has always been seen as a great option to help fund Misima, through either cash flow or selling it if needs be,’ he says.

‘Funding will always be a challenge, but we are in good stead with having the Livingstone asset and a significant resource base at Misima.’

‘If we continue to deliver operationally, the funding will follow.’

Community support

Corbett says operating in Papua New Guinea has generally been a positive experience, with great support from the Mineral Resources Authority, other regulatory groups and the local community.

‘One of the most important things for us is the support we’ve received, particularly from the local community.

‘We do our best to listen to and work with the community and offer employment where possible because these relationships are key.’

Bright future

As exploration at Misima continues to advance, Corbett says instability around industry regulations is a worry for the company.

‘If the rules change, it is difficult for everyone, from the major players right down to the junior miners.’

As the mining industry in Papua New Guinea continues to strengthen, Corbett says Misima remains a great opportunity for Kingston.

‘I’ve great confidence in mining in Papua New Guinea, with the outlook for gold, copper and nickel in great shape,’ he says.

With the Wafi-Golpu project looking set to get the green light this year, and a number of other projects going ahead or looking to expand, Corbett says things are looking good for the sector.

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Filed under Exploration, Financial returns, Mine construction

Call for PNG seabed mining licences to be cancelled

Benjamin Robinson-Drawbridge | Radio New Zealand | 14 March 2019

Groups opposed to sea bed mining in Papua New Guinea want the government to cancel licences given to embattled miner Nautilus.

The company’s Canadian parent has been granted protection from its creditors while it restructures, which the groups say will lead it to selling its PNG licenses.

For more than a decade, New Ireland civil and community groups have opposed the Nautilus Solwara mining project in the Bismarck Sea over its potential to damage the environment.

Gold and copper deposits on the sea floor enticed Nautilus to form a PNG subsidiary of which the government acquired a 15 percent share.

But with Nautilus now selling its assets to pay debts, the groups want its licenses cancelled so other miners can’t continue the project.

With support from the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights, the groups went to court to seek the disclosure of the licenses and other documents they say the government is constitutionally bound to produce.

But since the court case finished in September, the centre’s executive director Peter Bosip said the judge had not issued a decision.

“The reasons for withholding the decision is not known. It’s kind of holding people at ransom. So, we need to know whether we lost or we were successful in this instance,” he said.

“We don’t know and we are still waiting.”

The former chief justice Sir Arnold Amet also wants the licenses cancelled.

Sir Arnold said if the documents were released, they might show the government is liable for the company’s debts and was unable to sell its stake.

They should also reveal if the government could reacquire or cancel the licenses, he said.

“All of those are going to be packaged and put on the market for any potential bidders,” he said.

“So, our abilities to actually extricate ourselves from those binding licenses and agreements, and to free ourselves from ongoing liabilities may be limited considerably by the current legal entitlements of Nautilus in the region.”

The mining minister Johnson Tuke could not be reached for comment.

But given the company’s financial strife and the local opposition to deep sea mining, it would be futile for the government to continue to back Nautilus or any entity that tried to acquire the licenses, Mr Bosip said.

“The government has to think about cancelling this licenses because apart from economic loss, they also have to realize that the fight to reject deep sea mining in PNG is not over,” he said.

“The communities have mobilized.”

Jonathan Mesulam is from a village on the west coast of New Ireland Province is just 25km from the Solwara 1 project.

Speaking for the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Mr Mesulam said New Irelanders had “given their undivided support for many years to stop experimental seabed mining”.

“The longer Nautilus is delayed and tied up in protecting itself from bankruptcy the longer they are in debt and not able to get Solwara 1 up and operating, and the closer we are to stopping the project and protecting our livelihoods and seas.”

Christina Tony, from the Bismarck Ramu Group agreed “local communities have consistently opposed Nautilus Minerals”.

“We strongly believe this unified voice is what is driving Nautilus Minerals out of our country and towards bankruptcy. Other companies thinking of mining the sea floor in PNG or the Pacific should pay attention.”

PNG is not equipped to regulate foreign mining companies, especially those experimenting with deep sea mining, Sir Arnold said.

“Regulations, governance, accountability mechanisms, in a developing country like Papa New Guinea, and if I might say so in the Pacific region, are considerably wanting.

“We don’t have the capacity of professional institutions to hold to account sufficiently, all the mining giants, multinationals of the world that are continuing to exploit our natural resources.”

Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu may have also given rights to Nautilus that could be sold, Sir Arnold said.

The people of Pacific needed to band together to stop the exploitation of the sea floor and the islanders who depend on the ocean, Mr Bosip said.

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

ABG rejects RTG Panguna proposal

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

12 March 2019

RTG Mining has announced the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has rejected a proposal to reopen the Panguna mine.

RTG’s proposal was backed by the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) whose members are the Customary Owners of the land and mineral resources of the Panguna Mine (the area of the old EL 01)

RTG says it will now will consult with SMLOLA as to the steps to be taken in respect of this development.

Meanwhile, the ABG is pursuing its own mining plans with Australian Jeff McGlinn and Caballus Mining.

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Filed under Bougainville, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

Ambunti earthquake should be a wake up call to Frieda mine proponents

Damage from a February 2018 earthquake near Mendi. The earthquake killed more than 100 people. PHOTO: MELVIN LEVONGO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

5.6-magnitude quake hits 9 km NE of Ambunti, Papua New Guinea — USGS

Xinhua | March 7, 2019

An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale jolted 9 km northeast of Ambunti, Papua New Guinea at 1847 GMT on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter, with a depth of 132.36 km, was initially determined to be at 4.1824 degrees south latitude and 142.9124 degrees east longitude.

The Frieda River mine will be 70kms south of the Sepik River on the border of the Sanduan and East Sepik Provinces and some 500kms upriver from the coast.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Mine construction

Spare Sepik River from pollution

The mighty Sepik river is under threat from toxic mine tailings and increased river traffic

MM Ondassa | Post Courier | 7 March 2019

The September 2018 signing of Frieda River mine project accord by PanAust – the developer and the landowner groups as reported in the other paper was good news for the government.

The Governor of West Sepik, Tony Wouwou said in part “… the accord committed all parties to ensuring peaceful and constructive cooperation”… and “… everyone must work together to resolve differences amicably and without disruption to the project …”.

Let’s hope they all remain committed to the terms of this accord.

I have three points to raise here. First is the issue that continues to raise eyebrows. It is about the ownership of the underground resources. Who owns the oil, gas and minerals on customary land? Is it the landowners, the government, or the developer?

The truth is; landowners own the land but not the underground resources. Why this is so, is because there are man-made laws that deny them full rights to their resources, hence they don’t get a fair share of the proceeds.

When the job is done, the developer packs up and leaves behind land and environmental completly reshaped. A change of law will certainly make a world of difference in favour of the landowner communities.

My second point is on the Sepik River. Governor Wouwou made no mention of a tailings dam, or Sepik River to be the passageway for the shipment of mineral ores, but said that a tailings pipeline would be built across the border in East Sepik.

The people of Angoram and Ambunti-Drekikir, whose survival depends on the pollutant-free Sepik River are denied their rights to discuss risks that Frieda mine pauses to the Sepik River. The simple villagers have no idea whatsoever on the imminent risks they are about to face.

Despite the ignorance, there is a real possibility of serious environmental impacts that Frieda River mine activity can cause, as there is no guarantee that what happened to Fly River and now the Ramu River won’t happen to the Sepik River.

I raised this very concern last year, which was supported by the environmental scientist Alphonse Roy, who presented some related factual information based on his two “early warning study proposals” which he presented to the Angoram district administrator and others, now locked away or trashed.

May I appeal once again to the developer is to meet and listen to the Sepik River leaders and get first hand information on how this river has been their lifeline for many generations? They want to know how prepared PanAust is, in terms of the provision of alternative water services, fish stock preservation and health services in communities along the Sepik River to mitigate the impacts brought on by intentional and accidental mine rejects.

Thirdly, can the government quickly confirm if PanAust has been taken over by the then major shareholder, Guangdong Rising Assets Management – a Chinese state-owned company? If so, they must make Sepik River the safest?

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Filed under Environmental impact, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea