Tag Archives: Australia

Nickel mining set to start on Solomons’ San Jorge island

Axiom drilling activity on Isabel Nickel Project.

Radio New Zealand | 6 October 2018 

Nickel mining is finally set to commence on San Jorge Island in Solomon Islands’ Isabel Province.

An Australian company, Axiom, this week announced that mining will begin in December.

It said the mine’s first nickel ore shipment was expected to be made in the first quarter of next year.

Axiom, which was granted a lease by the Solomons government last month, said it was close to finalising finance for its project.

According to the company, it is in “advanced stages of negotiations with a number of parties” who are potential partners in the mine.

On the back of Wednesday’s announcement, shares in Axiom Mining rose sharply on the Australian stock exchange.

Isabel is considered to possess one of the largest clusters of nickel laterite deposits in the Pacific.

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Axiom says near supply agreement for Solomon Islands nickel mine

Axiom drilling activity on Isabel Nickel Project.

Melanie Burton | Reuters | October 3, 2018

Australia’s Axiom Mining on Wednesday said it was close to deciding on a partner to take nickel ore supplies from its mine in the Solomon Islands in exchange for finance.

Mining at the San Jorge project in the Pacific nation will start in December, with ore shipments expected to begin in the first quarter of next year, Axiom said in a statement.

The Solomon Islands approved a mining lease last month and ore loading facilities are currently being built, the firm said.

A previous mine finance arrangement with Gunvor Singapore, for A$5 million ($3.6 million) in funding and up to A$10 million towards mine construction, that was made in 2015 has now expired, Axiom said.

“With the recent grant of the mining lease there has been an increase of interest and demand from nickel ore consumers for Axiom’s San Jorge material,” it said.

The San Jorge mine is a nickel laterite ore deposit.

“Terms and conditions of proposed agreements continue to be refined and are in a final stage of negotiation,” Axiom said, without giving further detail. ($1 = 1.3953 Australian dollars)

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CEDAW and Extraterritorial Obligations: PNG Activists Highlight Australia’s Role in Human Rights Violations

Papua New Guinea activists Ruth Saovana Spriggs (left) and Sabet Cox in Geneva. Image still from forthcoming IWRAW Asia Pacific video

Nikta Daijavad | IWRAW

At IWRAW Asia Pacific’s most recent From Global to Local training programme, run in parallel to the 70th CEDAW Session, we were joined by two activists from a small group of Papua New Guinea women working to expose the gendered harms of Australia’s large-scale extractive industries – which have operated across many provinces of Papua New Guinea for five decades. Dr Ruth Saovana Spriggs (left, above) is the director of the Bougainville People’s Research Center (based in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville), and Elizabeth (Sabet) Cox (right, above) is a technical advisor to HELP Resources and Voice for Change (based in the Sepik and the Highlands regions of Papua New Guinea) and an emerging women’s organisation in Hela – the site of Papua New Guinea’s controversial vast and expanding gas fields in a context of underdevelopment and armed conflict. These four local NGOs were supported by Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), to prepare and submit a shadow report to the CEDAW Committee’s review of Australia, held on 3 July.

Ruth and Elizabeth focused their advocacy on Australia’s failure to meet its extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) in relation to its financing of, and development cooperation with, risky and socially and environmentally destructive Australian extractive companies in Papua New Guinea. In recent years, activists have increasingly called upon states to fulfill such obligations. Relying on the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, they argue that states are obligated to ensure that non-state actors which they are in a position to regulate, including private individuals and transnational corporations, do not violate human rights. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, for example, submitted shadow reports on the extraterritorial obligations of SpainSweden, and France with regards to arms transfers for the 61st, 63rd, and 64th CEDAW Sessions, respectively. FIAN International similarly submitted a shadow report on the extraterritorial obligations of Germany with regards to coffee plantations owned by German transnational corporations that were illegally evicting peasant communities in Uganda (66th CEDAW Session).

In Australia’s case, the state has provided critical financial support to extractive industries that have been assessed as high-risk for social and environmental impacts. In Bougainville, for example, Rio Tinto of Australia operated the Bougainville Copper Limited mine between 1969 and 1989 – until tensions over the dumping of tailings in the Jaba River, grossly unequal benefit sharing arrangements, and an influx of migrants from other provinces eventually erupted into a decade-long civil war with the Papua New Guinea government, with military support from Australia. When a military response failed, Papua New Guinea imposed a total blockade on goods, services and supplies, resulting in the loss of an estimated 20,000 lives, and countless war crimes of sexual violence. Ruth’s research has revealed that local women lost their traditional matrilineal authority, especially in relation to land rights and decision making. They witnessed huge social and cultural upheaval, bore the brunt of a long armed conflict and barely received USD20 in cash benefits annually.

The Australian government’s secretive Export Credit Agency – the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) – provides critical loans to ‘close the deal’ on new projects operated by Australian extractive companies when risk-averse banks will not. In 2009 EFIC provided a AUD500 million loan to enable Exxon Mobil and joint venture partners Oil Search and Santos to proceed with a liquefied natural gas project in the remote Hela region, despite warnings that support for the project could exacerbate already-existing armed conflict and violence against women. The lessons from Bougainville and from a succession of mining disasters have not been learned, and the gas fields in remote Hela Province have created a nightmare situation for women. The gas project start-up ignored the land-based armed conflicts among men and the extreme forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls. Worsening armed conflicts have undermined Hela’s rudimentary governance, service delivery and justice systems and rising impunity for daily murders, assaults and rapes.

Ruth and Elizabeth advocated four priority obligations of the Australian government:

  1. guarantees of women’s security and access to justice in areas impacted by Australian extractive industries, including establishing a complaints mechanism to provide reparations for past harms;
  2. Australian companies to undertake substantive gender analysis and to ensure women give free, prior and informed consent prior to extractive project start-up;
  3. institution of gender-equal benefit sharing in land-owning and impacted communities; and
  4. gender-equal access to jobs and training in Australian-owned extractive industry companies.

Throughout the process, women leaders from the remote Hela province in Papua New Guinea communicated daily with Ruth and Elizabeth, expressing their great hopes that their voices would be heard. They have since expressed their appreciation to the CEDAW Committee and the process.

During Australia’s constructive dialogue, Committee member Nahla Haidar directed incisive questions to the Australian state delegation regarding state loan financing of Australian extractive companies in Papua New Guinea and development grants to company-led corporate social responsibility projects for women. She noted, “There seems to be a failure to learn from the conflict in Bougainville … To what extent will the [Australian] government engage with the UN Principles on Business and Human Rights?” She reminded the delegation that its 2016 Universal Periodic Review had recommended that Australia adopt a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, and Australia had responded that it would consider further measures for implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This has not yet resulted in an adequate response.

The concerns highlighted in the shadow report on Australia’s ETOs are well reflected in Australia’s Concluding Observations. The Committee recommends that Australia develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, incorporating a gender perspective, ensuring that all large-scale extractive projects have obtained free prior informed consent from locally affected women, and establishing a specialised mechanism to investigate violations of women’s human rights by corporations based or registered in Australia or receiving subsidies from it.

Despite the lack of a clear commitment from the Australian delegation to address this issue, Ruth remains hopeful that highlighting the nature of Australia’s extractive industries in the international arena will eventually have a positive impact. As she said in our interview, “Unfortunately I was a little disappointed, but at least [the Australian delegation] heard it … And to me, it is a plus that [the issue] is at least registered at this level.” She also believes that continuing to strengthen the relationship between academic research and advocacy-oriented spaces like CEDAW will help bring to light the depth and complexity of the human rights violations taking place in Papua New Guinea.

Elizabeth added, “It’s given me hope that we can do more back in Papua New Guinea, and because the autonomous region of Bougainville is preparing for independence, [this] can be a new starting point for them to hold their independent government accountable to address the rights of women in the new state.”

Bougainville is slated to hold an independence referendum on 15 June 2019.

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MP upset at Australian advisors in Bougainville

A lake in the pit of the long defunct Panguna mine in Bougainville. Photo: www.travelinspired.co.nz

Radio New Zealand | 23 August 2018

An MP in the autonomous Bougainville parliament says Australian aid to the region is being used to jockey for position ahead of the vote on possible independence.

Bougainville is due to vote next year on whether to remain part of Papua New Guinea or choose independence.

Donor nations have started increasing their support but MP Joseph Watawi is taking issue with Australia sending in teams of advisers, without consultation.

He says the advisers are there to gain political power and influence for Australia when what Bougainville needs are nurses, doctors and engineers.

Mr Watawi told Don Wiseman he thinks the Australian assistance is focused on the possible re-emergence of the former Australian owned mining company, Bougainville Copper Ltd – the company which sparked the Bougainville crisis.

TRANSCRIPT

JOSEPH WATAWI: So rather than Australia trying to get back here under the cover of BCL, to re-open the mine, I think it is a fair thing for them to seriously look at how they can provide some form of redress to the people of Bougainville through supporting the current, ongoing reconciliation process in Bougainville. That’s what I see it is currently lacking.  

DON WISEMAN: You have been critical of Australia sending in advisers but the truth is isn’t it, that the ABG – the Bougainville government – still needs advice. It hasn’t got a lot of the capacity it needs if it is going to get itself organised for this vote.  

JW: So called advisors, which have flooded the Bougainville administration, I think some of these are absolutely unnecessary. Only on areas which we think we need critical advice then we should be able employ people that we identify and people that might come from Australia, but there are other places. In PNG we also have a lot of retired public servants who may be able to engage in terms of  providing capacity in whatever administrative area that we think we need and require that kind of advice. I don’t see a wholesale advisory capacity that should come from retired Australia. It is like Australian aid is being given to Bougainville and we take it on the right hand and they take it back on the left hand. So it really doesn’t make any sense.

DW: When you say unnecessary advisors, what are you thinking of?

JW: Well in areas where we think it is necessary that we should have some advisers, then we should engage people in those areas that must be identified in terms of strategic advice in what ever areas. For example in terms of growing the economy, I think it is an area we think we can probably need some expertise in giving us some rough forecast on what they think the economy will be like in the next ten years down the road. So these are some of the areas I think we could be able to take on advice, but anything else, in terms of weapons disposal – what do they know about weapons disposal when we own the weapons here, and we think we had ways and means to deal with people who are holding onto weapons.

DW: The New Zealand government has also stepped up its involvement and I see from a press release you have put out that you are quite happy with what New Zealand is doing. So what is the difference between what New Zealand is doing and what Australia is doing?

JW: New Zealand I think, because they are also based with the culture of the Maori people and I think they know how to deal with the indigenous people and the manner in which they offer their support and assistance, particularly on the policing service, I see the role New Zealand plays also involves some kind of customary, cultural relationship that sort of enhances the manner and the attitude they are offering the kind of advice and support, in terms of capacity for Bougainville, and that’s the difference I see. 

DW: There are discussions around restarting mining on Bougainville, and BCL is one of those, but it is not of course an Australian company anymore is it? You have tied this Australian involvement into a possible return of BCL but BCL is now owned by Bougainville and the PNG governments, isn’t it?

JW: The sale by Rio Tinto to the PNG government and the ABG was a rush job, and I think it was just a way out, of Rio Tinto not willing to address the legacy issues in terms of the environmental damages and all of these other things that they had created while operating the Panguna mine. And not only that but even they wanted to basically pass on some of these liabilities to the ABG. I think Rio Tinto on that note basically, just acting, like, you know, we don’t want to know what happened to you guys. We picked up the wealth and whatnot from your ground, and therefore we do not to come and recognise the difficulties you are suffering, the pain the people have gone through. From my observation and analysis this is very unfair.    

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Former Mine Staff Make Call-Out

Mount Kare mine workers have been abandoned

Post Courier | June 25 2018

Former employees of Summit Development Limited (SDL) are calling on the company to settle their outstanding payments.

Kenneth Cornelius, a former employee representing those affected, said they were laid off in 2014 when the company’s license was cancelled and were eventually terminated without proper settlement. The prolonged delay in settling the outstanding debts due to license refusal and lengthy court processes had extremely affected their families and beneficiaries.

“We, the representatives of former national hire employees, contractors and consultants of Summit Development, a subsidiary of Indochine Mining Limited (IDC) in Australia, have been very silent and patient for more than three years when Summit Development Ltd pursued its license renewal and their judicial review court case in relation to the cancellation of their exploration license 1093,” Mr Cornelius said.

“Without even settling our outstanding debts, our employment contracts with SDL were unmercifully terminated on March 2016. Upon issuing our termination notices, we were only assured by the company management that our outstanding debts and bills will be settled in full once the exploration license EL 1093 is renewed.

“As members of the Mt Kare Project technical team, we have successfully delivered very important achievements for the project, especially the land investigation study, land investigation report, customary land surveys, pre-feasibility studies and land mediation,” Mr Cornelius said.

He said the exploration license renewal was not a condition of their employment contracts with SDL and should not be given as an excuse for not settling them. Around 120 employees, consultants and services providers are affected.

“The National Court Judge Leka Nablu had handed down her final judgment ruling in favour of the former mining minister and State on April 27, 2018, which is not to renew SDL license. Thus we strongly demand that Indochine mining company management voluntarily settle us before they can pursue their judicial review appeal at the Supreme Court,” he said.

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Mines Need To Be Closely Scrutinised says Australian Govt

Matthew Vari | Post Courier | June 6, 2018

Despite much of the discussion coming out from a concerned mining industry over the review of the Mining Act 1992, there is need for Papua New Guinea to use its resources to its best advantage.

Considering the large portfolio of Australian mining companies investing in the PNG mining sector, Australian assistant Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism Mark Coulton was asked if the Australian industry had approached his ministry with their concerns to be raised to the PNG government.

While Mr Coulton said there was no such request, nor was he fully aware of the particular concerns of the review, he reiterated from a government standpoint that scrutiny in the mining industry was in the best interest of the country whose resources were being developed.

“I don’t think scrutiny with mining hurts, mines can bring great benefit but they certainly need to be closely watched because there is potential to damage of the environment,” Mr Coulton said.

He said as a partner, Australia could help with formulating agreements with resource owners to ensure effective benefits take place.

“There is always a balance and modern technology means there is much a lesser issue than it used to be.”

“I think some of the future developments where Australia can help with maybe local people in helping with the sort of agreements that might bring benefits.”

“The feeling that being a part owner of a mine would be a benefit to local communities but maybe it’s more beneficial to communities if they had an offtake agreement where a percentage of the royalties went to the local people rather than the ownership of the company.”

“I am a believer and we should use our natural resources sustainably, but correct me, if PNG has these wonderful resources they need to use them to the best of their advantage,” Mr Coulton said.

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PNG miners to present in Sydney

Drilling at Edie Creek

RAPID-FIRE presentations by four companies with interests in Papua New Guinea will be delivered in Australia on Thursday at the inaugural ResourceStocks Sydney conference.

PNG Industry News | 14 May 2018

Kingston Resources is first up at 11.45am, followed by Geopacific Resources, Kalia and Niuminco Group. Each company has a 15-minute slot at the event, which is to be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre over two days, May 16 and 17.

• Kingston Resources has the advanced exploration Misima gold project which has 2.8 million ounce resource which Kingston aims increase. Misima Island is 625km east of Port Moresby in the Solomon Sea and was operated as an open pit gold mine from 1989 to 2004, producing 3.7Moz gold at an average cost of $218/oz. Kingston owns 49% of Misima and is earning in to 70% and the joint venture partner PPC, is owned by JX Nippon Metals and Mining (66%), and Mitsui Mining and Smelting (34%).

• Geopacific Resources has the advanced exploration Woodlark Island gold project in Milne Bay Province. Geopacific recently released a prefeasibility study on the project which indicated that Woodlark has the potential to be a robust, low-cost, low-stripping ratio open pit operation that can deliver an average of 100,000 ounces of gold per annum over 10 years. Highlights of the study include: an initial head grade of 1.63 grams per tonne gold; an all-in sustaining cost of $A990 per ounce for the first five years and $A1110/oz over the life of mine; capital cost of $A180 million; and a reserve of 34.7 million tonnes at 0.99gpt gold containing more than 1.1 million ounces.

• Kalia describes itself as an exploration company targeting energy metals across a range of mineralisation styles – and one of the company’s areas of interest is Bougainville Island. Kalia says that from the preliminary work completed, including the re-processing of the data collected in 1986 by Fathom Geophysics and the analysis of raw data from other studies, sufficient sites have been identified to begin exploration. 

• Niuminco Group has the brownfields Edie Creek gold project in Morobe Province 120km south of Lae. The mining leases cover nearly four square kilometres and lie in a valley between high slopes. Since becoming involved in the Edie Creek project, Niuminco has upgraded existing buildings and power supplies and constructed service roads in the lease area. Edie Creek ore is currently being processed at an average 15.0 tonnes per day – an increase from the previous 12 month averages of 6.4tpd. With new infrastructure purchased, it is anticipated Edie Creek will scale up to run at more than 40tpd – a three-times increase over recent production rates (13 to 15tpd).

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