Category Archives: Mine construction

Locals Claim Earthquake Poses Great Threat To Wafi-Golpu Mine

“Newcrest and Harmony have never mentioned anything about earthquakes during any awareness”

See also: Magnitude 7.5 quake alongside proposed Solwara 1 mining site

Jerry Sefe | Post Courier | May 17, 2019

THE people of Yanta, Hengambu and Babwaf are concerned about the safety of their relatives who will be working at the underground Wafi-Golpu mine when it begins operations.

Their concern follows the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bulolo district last Tuesday. They described the quake as a wakeup call for the Wafi-Golpu underground mine developer Newcrest and Harmony.

They said the quake was disturbing to them as such natural occurrences may be hazardous in future for the Wafi-Golpu underground mine if it comes into full operation.

They said they are not representing any individual person nor its respective landowner presidents who were supposed to represent them to speak on behalf of them. “We are concerned about the lives of thousands of people including our children who will be working underground when the mine begins operation,” they said.

Provincial chairman of mines and petroleum and president of Mumeng local level government Okam Paton said he believes the resilience of these natural disasters would be captured in the mining environment impact statement.

However, he said it is in the best interest of the landowners that the responsible authorities respond to their concerns.

According to Wafi-Golpu project environmental impact statement chapter 21 of unplanned events, there is nothing mentioned about earthquakes.

“However, these events are often described as ‘low probability, high consequence’ events in reference to the position they occupy on a typical risk matrix.

“They can be broadly categorised as: natural events, significant seismic, weather or other natural events that occur infrequently but have the potential to cause significant damage.

“Accidental events, events originating from human activity that are considered unlikely due to the engineering design, operational controls and monitoring programs that are in place, but have the potential to cause significant damage if they do occur.

“Despite the low probability of occurrence of these events, the potential natural events considered most likely to affect the project are seismic events, tsunami, storm surge and flood events, bush fire and drought,” they said.

Knowing it would bring chaos to lives and properties, the landowners said they never thought of an earthquake at all, claiming the reason behind this was because they were not informed at all by the company.

“Newcrest and Harmony have never mentioned anything about earthquakes during any awareness or during the mining warden’s hearing over the years. “We were always limited to environmental destruction, compensation, royalty, and spinoff and so forth.

“Nothing was mentioned about earthquakes and its impacts on Wafi on both open cut and underground mine or how best the project can withstand the impacts during earthquakes,” they said.

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Wafi Golpu SML Grant In June, Highly Unlikely

Frankiy Kapin | Post Courier | May 14, 2019

Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture is unlikely to be granted a special mining lease (SML) by end of June. This timeline was agreed to by the WGJV mine developer and the PNG Government.

WGJV head of external a airs David Wissink said recent developments in PNG render the possibility of a SML being granted by 30 June not viable. Mr Wissink said this as a main hindrance to the developer achieving set goals that contribute to the achievement of the project.

Wissink said WGJV is aware of the recent issuance of a stay order in the matter of Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu and others against Minister for Mining and others.

“The matter is a judicial review application made by the Governor concerning the actions of the Minister for Mining in regard to the execution of the Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the developers of the Wafi-Golpu project and the State of Papua New Guinea.

“The WGJV hopes that this matter is resolved soon, and stands ready to continue to participate constructively in all negotiations to take the project forward when it is appropriate to do so.”

Mr Wissink added that WGJV has been working constructively with the PNG Government; the Morobe provincial government; and the landowners to take forward the negotiation of various agreements necessary for the permitting of the project.

In relation to progressive proceedings including reaching the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) by parties to the Wafi-Golpu project, Mr Wissink said the MOA is one of a number of agreements necessary to be finalized to enable the permitting of the project.

“The Mineral Resources Authority has convened a development forum, and is collecting position papers from all identified stakeholders.

The Morobe provincial government is an important participant in this process and we are very pleased that it has recently submitted its position paper,” Mr Wissink said. He said the WGJV is yet to be given a copy of the MPG position paper and looks forward to going through the paper at an appropriate time to progress the project.

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Taking the Initiative – Engan man builds home made Gold Crusher

Vasinatta Yama | EMTV News | 13 May 2019

Joe Tomerop from the Enga province is an Alluvial Gold miner who has taken the bold steps in increasing mining production in his area.

Almost two years in the making, Tomerop has completed his own home-made gold crusher and is having it ready for transportation to the Kompiam district for an alluvial mine at his village.

Costing a Million Kina he says, he was challenged by the Mineral Resources Authority to have the mining capacity available before acquiring a mining license for the alluvial deposits in his mothers village in the province.

Tomerop who is a local business man says he used his own resources to build the machines proving that local Papua New Guineans have the capacity to do mining and export, and have the licenses to do so.

“I want MRA and Papua New Guinea sees that Papua New Guineans we can do it. That’s the difference. So we have completed it and I’m waiting for my license.”

An alluvial miner, in 2014, he discovered alluvial gold in his mother’s area, who’s landowners are the Kuralin tribe of Kompiam.

With agreements from his uncles, he took the initiative and brought the Warden Hearing to Kompiam.

“From that time on we followed MRA’s procedures and surveyed the area and gather landowners. We are nine clans from the Kuralin Tribe from that mountain. So we tried doing it and brought the Warden’s hearing and the Warden gave okay for us.”

The crusher he’s designed is built using local knowledge, and utilized the help of an Australian friend who guided the locals to complete building the gold crusher.

“It’s for alluvial gold. We did not bring it from China, Europe or Australia. This machine is locally built.  Few things like pipes and pumps are not in PNG so we brought it from Australia.”

According to Mineral Resources Authority, panning for alluvial gold mine can bring an estimated K300 million into the PNG economy, and Tomerop believes that with his crusher and machines, he can triple his own revenue as a result.

“But I don’t think a National has come to that capacity of what I had in mind. Because it’s hard to invest money in something you don’t know whether there’s something under the ground or not. You know that coffee season is good, the soil is good, and then you plant coffee because you know the market is there. This one has market but to start it is difficult so I took a gamble.”

Tomerop is now waiting for MRA to grant him and his tribesman their license to operate the alluvial mine.

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Morobe’s Interest In Wafi-Golpu Legal, Says Judge

Frankiy Kapin | Post Courier | May 13, 2019

A ruling of the national court in Lae affirms that Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu (plaintiff /applicant) is a party of interest to the Wafi-Golpu project as host province.

Acting Judge John Numapo granted leave for judicial review to the signing of the Wafi-Golpu memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the State and the developer without the host province’s governor.

Justice Numapo ordered a directional hearing set for May 24, followed by a pre-hearing conference on June 6 to set a date for a full hearing of the substantive matter.

Justice Numapo ruled that Mr Saonu, in his capacity as mandated representative of Morobe Province and its people, is granted the review on two decisions pertaining to the letter constituting the legal clearance issued by state solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea (second defendant) on December 10, 2018, for the execution of the MoU between Mr Saonu, Wafi Mining Limited and Newcrest PNG 2 Limited.

The second decision for the review, as set in the originating summons, pertains to the MoU signed on December 11, 2018, between Mining Minister Johnson Tuke (first defendant) and developers Wafi Mining Limited (fourth defendant) and Newcrest PNG 2 Limited (fifth defendant).

The independent State of Papua New Guinea is the third defendant in the originating summons (OS-JR No 18 of 2019).

Justice Numapo ruled that Mr Saonu, as duly-elected Morobe Governor, has sufficient interest in the Wafi-Golpu project located in his province, therefore has standing (locus standi) seeking review through submission of the proceedings.

“One of his responsibilities is to make sure that the province generates and raises sufficient revenue from various sources within the province to maintain government services and one such revenue source is from the mining activities carried out in the province such has the Wafi-Golpu mine,” Justice Numapo said.

He said the plaintiff has taken into consideration the potential of the mine changing the economic outlook of the province and the country once operational and wants to make sure the province is well-positioned to benefit through revenue generation, employment opportunities and other spin off benefits.

Justice Numapo said the province is mindful of the environmental impact and other social issues that may arise as a direct result of the mining project and wants to ensure these concerns are properly addressed.

“I am satisfied, therefore, that a prima facie (accepted as correct until proven otherwise) case on sufficient interest has been made out in favor of granting leave for review.,” he said.

“I am satisfied that the plaintiff has sufficient interest in the matter and therefore, has the locus standi to bring this proceedings seeking leave for judicial review.”

Justice Numapo also ruled for the review after being satisfied that the Mining Minister Tuke and the state solicitor, as holders of public offices, acted in respective capacities constituting a decision or act in clearing the MoU signing through discharge of their statutory duties.

Justice Numapo granted the plaintiff, Mr Saonu, leave on May 7 to seek a judicial review of the agreement.

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Mining Subject To B’ville Govt

Panguna mine in operation, circa 1971 (Photo: Robert Owen Winkler/Wikimedia Commons)

Post Courier | May 7, 2019

All mining, oil, and gas powers and functions belong to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, says ABG vice president and mining minister Raymond Masono.

Mr Masono said this in response to a news article titled “Bougainville admonished by O’Neill over planned mining change” which was posted on social media through Radio New Zealand on Monday, April 29.

The ABG mining minister said the the transfer of these powers from the national government to the ABG was signed in March 2008 at Alotau between the late president, Joseph Kabui, and the then deputy prime minister, Sir Puka Temu.

“This process was in turn completed when the ABG passed its own mining law in April, 2015,” Mr Masono said.

“The ABG mining act is unique in the sense that it recognises landowners as owners of the minerals beneath the ground and not the crown or the state as in Papua New Guinea.

“The proposed amendment further consolidates this ownership rights by giving landowners and the ABG controlling interest in any major mining development project, starting with the Panguna mine through a Bougainvillean mining entity that would own 60 per cent of the shares on behalf of the landowners, ABG and the people of Bougainville.

“The Bougainville entity is not Caballus, it is the Bougainville advance mining company,” he said

Mr Masono said contrary to the Rio Tinto Group-aligned special mining lease Osikaiyang landowners association (SMOLA) that the amendments take away landowner rights, the proposed amendments give landowners more and better benefits in terms of equity and royalties than they are currently entitled to under the existing law.

“But the Panguna mine no longer belongs only to the RTG sponsored SMOLA, rather the mine belongs also to the other eight mine-affected landowners, whose land was used for mining purposes in the 17 years of operations and who support the amendment,” he said.

“It also belongs to all Bougainvilleans because the blood of 20,000 lives was spilled over the mine by Bougainvilleans, who died fighting to protect these resources.”

He said Bougainvilleans have consented that the Panguna mine must reopen, but not with Bougainville Copper Ltd and certainly not with RTG, two firms that are no doubt sponsoring those opposed the amendments. Mr Masono said relevant agencies have conducted and continued to carry out awareness to correct the misinformation, deliberate misinterpretation that are being propagated by those opposed to the proposed amendments.

The ABG is not rushing its work, it will continue to consult with landowners and the people of Bougainville before it passes the amendments.

“In addition to these consultations, the people of Panguna are now engaged in their own traditional social mapping process called ‘tangurang’ to identify the true landowners,” he said.

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PM Labels Solwara Venture As A Wasted Investment

Post Courier | May 8, 2019

In yesterday’s heated exchange of words and debate in Parliament, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill labeled the now considered sunk Solwara 1 project for deep sea mining as a wasted venture that government was haste in investing in.

The PM made reference to this when questioned by the shadow treasurer for the Opposition and Kavieng MP, Mr Ian Ling Stucky on the estimated K400 million investment in the State’s stake in the project by Nautilus Minerals Inc.

Mr O’Neill was quick to blame the investment decision on the former Somare Government, which signed into the deal initially at 30 per cent.

The State eventually took on a 15 per cent stake in 2014, which the PM described was the only component that kept, what was touted to be a world’s first full scale project using deep sea mining, afloat till its recent financial upheavals over the past few years leading to its delisting from the Toronto Stock Exchange last month.

“In the case of Solwara (1), again this investment was done during the Somare government; it was not an investment during our government.

“It was not an investment that our government made. We have lost a lot of money because of stupidity and hundreds of millions of kina.

“We were buying ahead of all the shareholders. We were underwriting the project itself. A deal that should not have happened, and as a result it has cost us a lot of money,” the prime minister said.

Mining Minister Johnson Tuke said last month the company had been given sometime to prove it can source funds or will have its license revoked.

This is after Toronto-based underwater mineral exploration company was unsuccessful to appeal the initial decision by TSX to delist its shares as a result Nautilus’s common shares has been suspended from trading on TSX.

“As long Nautilus is compliant to our conditions of Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) then MRA does not have the right to underwrite their licence only until such a time when they are not compliant to the conditions of the licence.

MRA on the other hand stated earlier that once the agreed schedules set under the licence have been breached it will take on the necessary actions needed if it is deemed to have breached those agreements.

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US and allies to use ‘aid’ to subsidise tax-dodging foreign mining companies

Rather than sustainable solar panels for village communities, the United States and it allies will use promised aid money to subsidise the expansion of foreign owned large-scale mining

Rather than providing sustainable solar power for village communities, the United States, Australia and New Zealand will use their promised electrification program to subsidise the expansion of foreign owned large-scale mining in Papua New Guinea. Mining that is proven does not improve the livelihoods of ordinary people but causes massive social and environmental problems…

U.S, allies propose financing for power plant for Papua New Guinea gold mine

Colin Packham | Reuters | 6 May, 2019

The United States and a group of Pacific allies are proposing to finance a power plant to kick-start the Wafi-Golpu mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s largest untapped gold resources, two sources familiar with the plan said.

The proposal would be the first to be funded by a partnership of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan that pledged to support electricity projects in Papua New Guinea (PNG) during the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit held in November in the capital of Port Moresby.

The countries promised to fund projects to provide electricity for up to 70 percent of the PNG population by 2030, a centerpiece of efforts to undercut Chinese influence in the Pacific.

Officials from the four countries met last month in Port Moresby with the PNG government to discuss the power plant funding for Wafi-Golpu, jointly owned by Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold, the two sources said.

The exact size of the investment has yet to be concluded, but the coalition is seeking to back a power natural gas-fired station that would eventually be owned and operated by the PNG government, the sources said.

“If the mine can get reliable power, it could be a major revenue earner for PNG,” a U.S. source who attended the meeting told Reuters.

He declined to be identified as he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Representatives for Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We would welcome any proposal that would bring reliable power to the region,” said Christopher Maitland, a spokesman for Newcrest.

Wafi-Golpu is located about 65 km (39 miles) southwest of Lae, the second-largest city in Papua New Guinea, according to the joint venture’s website.

UBS estimates the mine could produce 270,000 ounces of gold and 160,000 tonnes of copper each year from around 2025.

Newcrest and Harmony hope the government will grant a mining license for Wafi-Golpu in July, said Newcrest’s Maitland.

By providing support for the mine and its power supply, the U.S.-led group is hoping to boost its diplomatic standing in the Pacific.

“Infrastructure is the proxy for the greater competition happening between the U.S with its allies and China,” said Nick Bisley, professor of international relations at Melbourne’s La Trobe University. “The U.S. has to deliver on major projects to ensure it doesn’t lose ground on China.”

The United States and its allies worry that China is increasing economic aid to the Pacific region to exert influence over vast swathes of resource-rich ocean and international forums like the United Nations.

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