Tag Archives: Barrick Gold

Did Papua New Guinea Police Commit Atrocities for Gold Company?

Telesur | 28 March 2017

This wouldn’t be the first time that Canada’s Barrick Gold has attempted to dodge responsibility while minimizing reports of home burnings and rape.

Human rights advocates in Papua New Guinea raised alarm following shocking accusations of violence leveled at police by villagers residing near the Porgera Joint Venture Gold Mine owned by Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold mining company. The police stand accused of taking part in a pre-dawn operation Saturday where villagers said 150 houses were torched.

The Akali Tange Association claimed that the police mobile unit rampaged through the Wangima village in an early-morning attempt to forcefully evict residents. Eyewitnesses claim that no warning was given, nor were any eviction notices presented prior to the onslaught. Eight young school-aged girls were allegedly gang-raped during the raid, yet their whereabouts are presently unknown. Six men also faced harsh beatings during the raid.

Representatives of Barrick claim that the mine had “been advised that the police operation targeted illegal activities and was conducted under warrants issued by the Porgera District Court,” yet that they had received no prior warning of the police operation.

However, activists have expressed skepticism that the mining firm had no knowledge of the police raid, especially given the relatively frequent nature of house burnings in Wangima — which lies within Barrick’s mine lease area. Additionally, MiningWatch Canada noted in a statement that “police who guard the mine are housed, fed, clothed and paid by the mine which is 95 percent owned by Barrick (Niugini) Ltd., in turn, 50 percent owned by Barrick Gold.”

McDiyan Robert Yapari, the leader of Akali Tange Association, claimed that a local police officer revealed to him that the raid came under orders from Barrick. Yapari said the officer said, “The Company gave us orders and that we had no choice but to follow their directives. We are here working for money and if we don’t follow orders, we will not be paid our daily allowances.”

The weekend incident is far from the first time the Canadian mining firm stands accused of committing horrendous abuses against the people of the region. In 2009 and 2014, similar incidents were condemned by Amnesty International and the Coalition on Housing Rights and Evictions.

In 2013, protestbarrick.net editor Sakura Saunders underscored the systemic nature of police abuse in Papua New Guinea in a report on abuses connected to the gold mining company, “This is the true tragedy with Porgera. Here, abuses can’t be confined to a few isolated incidents, but a structure of impunity that terrorizes residents who resist it. Here, the crisis does not exist only in moments, but is tied to an environment that is over run with waste, toxic dust, landslides and tailings, creating hazards that take lives on a regular basis.”

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Village Houses Burnt Down – Again – at Barrick Mine; Violence Against Local Men and Women Continues Unabated

Mining Watch Canada

Before dawn on March 25, some 150 houses in the village of Wangima were burnt to the ground by Mobile Units of the Papua New Guinea police, according to reports from Akali Tange Association, a human rights organization in Porgera.

Wangima is located inside the mine lease area of Barrick Gold’s Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine. The violent raid on the village occurred while people were sleeping. Barrick has now confirmed allegations made by the Akali Tange Association that a Papua New Guinea police operation on the 25th of March led to the destruction of homes belonging to villagers of Wangima, though claiming only 18 houses were destroyed.

Akali Tange Association’s McDiyan Yapari interviewed the victims while their houses were still smouldering. In a letter sent to Barrick’s President Kelvin Dushnisky, Yapari records an interview with one of the victims:

“an owner of one of a [sic] houses that was burnt down said that he was fast asleep at around 5:30 am in the morning when the PNG Police Mobil Squads forcefully broke his houses door and entered. After entering his house, they dragged him out of his house half naked and a policeman set his house on fire. He further said that he did not get even a single shirt or a pant. Everything he owns including cooking utensils, clothes, beds and other valuable properties were all burnt down.”

Barrick says that the PJV mine has been advised that warrants were issued by the Porgera District Court for the raid and asserts that mine personnel had no prior knowledge of the police action. This response is remarkable as it does not explain how such a planned raid could occur in a village inside Barrick’s mine lease area without Barrick’s prior knowledge – particularly as there is a history of such house burnings in Wangima by police involved with the mine, as reported on by MiningWatch in 2009 and 2014.

Police who guard the mine are housed, fed, clothed and paid by the mine which is 95% owned by Barrick (Niugini) Ltd., in turn 50% owned by Barrick Gold. Yapari refers in his letter to Barrick’s Dushnisky that one of the police involved in the raid told Yapari that the “Company gave us orders and that we had no choice but to follow their directives,” adding,

“We are here working for money and if we don’t follow orders, we will not be paid our daily allowances.”

Yapari was also told that young girls were gang raped and young men beaten in the raid.

Violence against local men and women by mine security guards and Papua New Guinea police, who guard the mine under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Papua New Guinea state, is also long-standing and ongoing. Barrick has never released the MOA.

Yapari highlights the ongoing violence against locals by mine-related security by describing an “incident of gang rape on Monday, 20th March, 2017 at around 3:00 pm. One eyewitness said women were crossing a haul road when the Barrick hired PNG Police Mobil [sic] Squads patrolling the Mine’s Waste Dump held them up during the daylight and gang raped them.”

Barrick’s public statement does not address the violence that reportedly accompanied the house burnings, nor the allegations made by Yapari of gang rape on March 20.

“It is simply incomprehensible that Barrick does not publicly condemn house burnings by police occurring on the mine’s lease area, by all accounts by police funded and directed by Barrick, as these are gross violations of human rights,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, “Does Barrick think it is appropriate to send police to remove people from where they sleep and burn down their houses and possessions?”

In the letter, Yapari says, “Barrick needs to give us an explanation for these continuous violent raids on our people and must give immediate humanitarian aid to the victims as well as remedy for the losses and personal harm they have suffered.”

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Police target ‘illegal’ activities at Barrick’s Porgera mine: Houses razed but no arrests

Aerial view of police operation in Wangima, Porgera — image Barrick Niugini

Martyn Namorong | Namorong Report | 28 March 2017

Barrick Niugini Limited has confirmed allegations made by the Akali Tange Association that a Papua New Guinea police operation on the 25th of March led to the destruction of homes belonging to the villagers of Wangima near the giant Porgera gold mine.

The Wangima settlement is located on the slopes of Mt Peruk on the perimeter of the Porgera Mine pit.

According to Mr McDiyan Robert Yapari of the Akali Tange Association of Porgera, “PNG police Mobile Units forcefully evicted residents from Wingima village near Barrick’s Porgera gold mine and burnt down some 150 houses.” Yapari further alleged that no prior warning was given to the residents of Wangima.

Barrick has however disputed these claims and said in a statement that “approximately 18 structures were removed in the police operation.”

Barrick further added that the “police operation was conducted under warrants issued by the Porgera District Court, and that notices of eviction had been previously provided by police to persons residing unlawfully in the operation area.”

However according to Mr Yapari, locals claim that the police had informed them that they were acting on company orders. Mr Yapari further claimed that this was “the third time Barrick and its allies are burning down Wingima Village.”

Yapari further alleged that several women were sexually assaulted and men were beaten during the raid.

Barick and the Porgera Joint Venture management have responded to these allegations by appointing former Chief Ombudsman Mr Ila Geno, the Independent Observer of Porgera Police Operations, to investigate the reports.

Porgera mine management distanced themselves from the raid stating “that mine personnel had no involvement in or prior knowledge of the police operation.”

However Mr Yapari pinned the blame squarely on the mine management stating “you are paying for the food and accommodation and fuel of the police, and they are guarding your gold, you have a responsibility.”

Yapari called for an independent investigation into the matter and for partners in the Porgera Joint Venture to provide humanitarian assistance.

Barrick has urged the government of PNG to investigate the police operation and has stated that it will consider any requests for humanitarian assistance.

The Porgera Gold Mine employs over 2,500 Papua New Guineans, and over the life of the mine it has contributed approximately 10% of Papua New Guinea’s total annual exports.

On an annual basis, the Porgera Gold Mine pays more than K34 million on royalties, over K109 million on taxes and duties to the National Government, more than K9 million on the Government-owned Tax Credit Scheme (TCS), spends over K3 million on highway maintenance, and over K1 million annually on donations, among other benefits from the mine.

The mine has however been dogged by human rights abuses including the infamous rapes of local women by mine employees. A quasi-judicial settlement of that matter has been heavily criticized by international legal experts including the Harvard School of Law.

Location of Wangima settlement relative to the Porgera Mine — image Barrick Niugini

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Porgera police squads accused of burning 150 houses and raping women

The aftermath of the Porgera fire. Photo: Supplied/ McDiyan Robert Yapari

Radio New Zealand | 27 March, 2017

A human rights group in Papua New Guinea is accusing police of burning down 150 houses in a village near the Porgera Gold Mine, during an early morning raid over the weekend.

The Akali Tange Association also alleges up to eight women were gang-raped and six men beaten during the raid.

The group’s executive officer, McDiyan Robert Yapari, said police mobile squads forcefully evicted residents from Wingima village and it is the third time the village has been burnt down.

Mr Yapari said he had been informed by a local policeman that the raid was ordered by Barrick Gold, which co-owns the Porgera Mine.

Earlier this month, the association joined calls for Canada to appoint a mining ombudsman to monitor Canadian mining companies, including Canadian company Barrick Gold, which co-owns Porgera.

It said an ombudsman would finally provide some justice for victims as well as holding mining companies to account.

Barrick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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PNG group says mining ombudsman ‘last hope’

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

Radio New Zealand | 13 March, 2017

A human rights group in Papua New Guinea says it would be a great relief if Canada agrees to appoint an ombudsman to monitor PNG’s mining sector.

The Akali Tange Association has written to Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, as part of a wider global campaign calling for the appointment.

The group said Canadian-owned Barrick Gold had employed security guards at Porgera who had committed killings, assault, and rape.

Its executive officer, McDiyan Robert Yapari, said an ombudsman would finally provide some justice for victims as well as holding mining companies to account.

“Now we don’t have any choice but only our prayers – our only hope now lies with the Canadian Prime Minister, if he sets up this Canadian extractive human rights ombudsman – that would be a great relief for us,” said McDiyan Robert Yapari.

Mr Yapari said the situation at Porgera Mine was getting worse and an ombudsman was the community’s last hope.

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PNG campaigners lobby Canadian PM over Porgera abuses

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

Radio New Zealand | 9 March, 2017

Campaigners at the Porgera Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea are among those calling for an ombudsman for Canada’s mining sector.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the Akali Tange Association said an ombudsman would hold Canadian companies to account for abuses.

It said Canadian-owned Barrick Gold had employed security guards at the Porgera Mine who have committed killings, assault, and rape.

MiningWatch Canada spokesperson Catherine Coumans said letters from the Porgera campaigners and others affected by Canadian mining companies were already having an impact.

“It’s certainly really significant when people around the world write directly to our Prime Minister and to directly indicate what the harm is that they’re experiencing from Canadian mining companies and how they have a hard time getting access to justice in their own countries and therefore really need Canada to step up to the plate.”

She said they were still getting reports of rapes at the Porgera Mine.

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20 million oz of gold – but where is the development?

Porgera mine workers celebrate 20 million oz of gold

20 million ounces of gold is worth US$ 24,000,000,000 at today’s market price

Twenty four billion dollars / Seventy two billion kina from just one mine – but where is the development we were promised from this ‘world class mine’?

Polluted rivers, poverty, rape, violence is the price we pay for paving the streets of Sydney, Vancouver, London and New York with our gold

Large-scale mining is the wrong model of development, it is neo-colonialism, and we need leaders who will stand up for PNG and say no more!

PJV reaches milestone production since 1990

Post Courier | March 08, 2017

THE Porgera gold mine in Enga Province reached a milestone this month achieving 20 million ounces (oz.) in gold production since the start of operations in 1990.

The mine is a joint venture operation between Barrick Gold Corporation, Zijin Mining Group and Mineral Resources Enga (MRE) Limited.

In a statement the firm released yesterday it announced that the PJV processing department had attained the +20 million oz on March 6, 2017 after 7044 ounces were produced that day.

Marking its significance for the 26 year mine operation, six of PJVs longest serving employees and some production and processing staff were invited by the PJV management to witness the historic gold pour event.

PJV general manager operations, Damian Shaw on behalf of the management, commended the efforts of those who had been involved with the operation since the first pour in 1990 and those who were still with the operation working safely, 20 million ounces later.

“This has been a great effort by everyone, the employees, the community, the government and all other stakeholders. To those who work behind the scene to make it possible to achieve this result, congratulations.

“Not many mines meet 20 million ounces, it is a rare achievement. Porgera still has a long life so let’s get another 20 million,” MrShaw said.

The +20 million oz. is derived from more than 143 million tonnes of ore that have been mined in both the Open Pit and Underground since start of production.

Production superintendent (Anawe) Anthon Pakyo, acknowledged the contributions from all of the PJV site departments, adding that there have been challenges along the way but as a team, the site has achieved this.

“For the processing team, this is a real milestone achievement as we all know it has been challenging to get this far. We can hope for some more million ounces in the future through our continued team efforts,” Mr Pakyo said.

Porgera accounts for, on average 11 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s total exports and is a major contributor to the PNG economy in taxes, duties, royalties and infrastructure development.

PJV has also managed over 570 tax credit scheme (TCS) and infrastructure development program (IDP) funded projects valued at over US$74million since the start of TCS in 1992.

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