Tag Archives: Barrick Gold

PNG aims to retain 30% of exported gold, may change currency pegs

Jonathan Barrett | Reuters | 19 August 2019

Papua New Guinea wants to retain at least 30% of the gold it currently exports as it transforms its economy under a new government leadership, the country’s commerce minister said on Monday.

PNG was the world’s 14th largest gold producer in 2018, according to the World Gold Council. Its assets include the Porgera gold mine, majority controlled by a joint venture between Barrick Gold Corp and Zijin Mining Group , which has a lease currently up for renewal.

PNG’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Wera Mori told an investor forum in Sydney that the resources-rich nation was developing policies to keep more of the commodities it produces in the country to improve its economy.

“We are in the process of developing the framework to retain at least 30% of our gold that we export every year,” Mori told an investment forum in Sydney.

Mori said that PNG would also consider pegging its currency, the kina, to gold, rather than the U.S. dollar.

PNG’s central bank currently fixes its currency to a narrow U.S. dollar band, propping up the kina’s value while creating a shortage of dollars available in the Pacific nation.

James Marape, the former finance minister who became PNG’s new leader in May after winning a vote in parliament, has put some of the world’s biggest resources companies on notice over a perceived lack of wealth flowing from their projects back to communities.

This includes sending a team to renegotiate its Papua LNG agreement with French oil major Total SA.

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Leader Speaks His Mind On Porgera Mine

Communities living around Papua New Guinea’s Porgera gold mine lack enough access to clean water to meet their basic needs. Photo: Columbia University

Post Courier | August 5, 2019

The landowners of Porgera mine have given up their mountains and land to mine developers. This is with the thought that they will be partakers and beneficiaries. But after 30 years they still haven’t benefited from it.

These are the words of Nixon Mangape who is a signatory of the 24 landowner agents that signed the MOA in 1989.

“We have given our mountains to the developer to mine gold which we thought that the government will benfifit from the taxes collected from the developer, as well as the national and provincial government but us the landowners will receive the maximum benefit,” he said.

“That was our initial thought when we signed the agreement in good faith but in so many years the developer haven’t given us any contract.”

Mr Mangape said that he represented Tiene Wape clan.

“Out of the 23 landowners that were party to the signing of the MOA in 1989, I am the 24th person who signed the agreement,” he said.

“I have not benefited from the mine and even my clan have not benefitted.

“That applies to all 24. We were not given contracts.”

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Mining industry implicated in multiple rapes and murders faces no “real consequences” after lobbying Trudeau 33 times in just over a year

Samuel Helguero | The Post Millennial |  3 August 2019

On January 17, 2018, then Minister of International Trade, Francois-Philippe Champagne, announced the establishment of a new position.

For many, it was good news. Trudeau’s promised Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise came with the “ironclad” guarantee that an independent official would have the power to compel documents and witnesses for their investigations into corporations.

The commitment to the ombudsperson was not only verbal, but was included in Trudeau’s campaign promises and was stated explicitly on the Q&A page of the government’s website once he was in office.

For many it was good news. 

Critics of Canada’s mining industry were particularly hopeful. The multi-billion-dollar industry is one of the largest in Canada and has long been suspected of crude human rights abuses—abuses that would warrant an investigation.

“A cultural habit”

Among the industry’s possible violations of international law—as bodies like the UN and Amnesty International might attest—is the chemical poisoning, rape, murder, and serious beatings of hundreds of men, women, and children by people the industry directly or indirectly employed: all over the course of little more than a decade.

Taking just one example, in the mid-2000s researchers rushed to an area in Papua New Guinea, pursuing local reports of murder and abuse at a Canadian-owned mine (owned by Barrick Gold). One report was painstakingly gathered by villagers who travelled six hours to send documents in the closest area with internet.

Asides from victims of murder and beatings, researchers were surprised to find, when they arrived, that more than a hundred women and children had been raped by the mine’s security forces.

Barrick Gold Mining Company tried to cover up their security forces indiscretions, even at parliamentary hearings. Barrick’s founder, Peter Munk defended his company’s inaction complaining that human rights organizations did not understand how “gang rape is a cultural habit” in Papua New Guinea. But after dozens of human rights lawyers threateningly swarmed the island, the company gave in with a small compensation mechanism for 119 women.

Barrick made the compensated victims sign a legal waiver promising that they wouldn’t pursue legal action against the company. One lawyer working on the island found Barrick Gold to be executing a similar harm-and-sign practice in Tanzania. This is only a small glimpse into the array of telling cases.

Trudeau’s “ironclad commitment”

It is understandable why such a large and profitable industry—operating in the most remote corners of Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa—with a questionable history of human rights practices, would not want a powerful ombudsperson to investigate their affairs.

Yet, Trudeau had made a commitment, a sealed promise, to create an ombudsperson with the powers to compel witnesses and documents.

“We had an ironclad commitment by the government of Canada that this would be the mandate of the office,” MiningWatch Research Coordinator Catherine Coumans recalled in conversation with The Post Millennial.

“These companies are headquartered here, they’re getting tax-breaks here. They needed to be held to account here.”

But when in April 2019 the experienced and well-qualified Sheri Meyerhoffer was publicly appointed to the position of ombudsperson, she didn’t even know which tools or powers would be available to her.

“We’ll see what the toolbox ends up having at the end of the day,” Meyerhoffer said in an archived document provided to The Post Millennial

Indeed, it was made clear in a 2019 April press conference that “at the end of the day” Meyerhoffer and the public would have to hear from an independent legal opinion that would help establish the complete extent of her investigative powers. The expert’s advice was planned for release in early May.

This legal opinion never came out.

An undisclosed source told Coumans that the experts’ report took a wrong turn in the government’s eyes upon suggesting the new ombudsperson could be legally equipped with all the powers to subpoena initially promised. Others have suggested publicly that a legal disagreement took place on the best legal mechanism for giving Meyerhoffer serious investigative tools. Either way, the legal opinion was kept behind the political curtain.

Without the once-promised ability to compel witnesses and documents, the ombudsperson became limited in her investigations. She could still carry out inquiries and supply recommendations to the government. However, her reports would lack crucial specifics and credibility.

“Three months later, the study has not been made public, [and] the [ombudsperson] remains without meaningful powers to serve impacted communities and workers,” wrote several members of the Advisory board charged with overseeing the appointment of an ombudsperson, as they resigned this month in protest.

“We are increasingly convinced that the government has no intention to fulfill its commitment to create an independent office before the next federal election.”

Continuous lobbying

Now, several months after Meyerhoffer was announced as ombudsman, a recent report highlights the campaign of intensive lobbying launched by the mining industry between the pivotal time frame of January 2018 to April 2019, a campaign that may have influenced impressionable bureaucrats.

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the Prospector and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), both organizations representing a plethora of individual Canadian mining corporations, lobbied the federal government on 530 occasions. The Prime Minister’s Office opened their doors to lobbyists of the industry 33 times in this same time period.

The contents of those meetings are not known. However, the data available does indicate those most lobbied by the industry.

These names include senior policy advisor for Natural Resources Canada and former employee of the mining industry, Guillaume Julien—lobbied 38 times—and Sarah Goodman, policy advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office—lobbied 18 times.

Jim Carr, now Minister of International Trade Diversification, who announced Meyerhoffer and her limited purview at the aforementioned press conference, also met with lobbyists from the mining industry a total of four times.

Moreover, Carr’s chief of staff took part in three meetings.

In contrast, only a single civil society organization was granted a meeting. That organization, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, was given just one meeting to discuss the mining industry despite continued and relentless attempts to arrange discussions. Adding insult to injury, the meeting was with a junior staffer, not the high-level policy advisors that entertained the mining lobbyists.

“We were being warned by staff members within the ministry that we needed to get a meeting because the industry is lobbying the heck out of the PMO. We were constantlyconcerned that the ombudsperson’s powers be removed. We were clear that if these powers were removed, they would effectively be duplicating the failures of the Harper government to put a strong ombudsperson in place,” Coumans said.

However, Coumans was not necessarily surprised by the political influence the mining industry seems to have demonstrated. The industry has long had a “revolving door” with the government, regularly handing out positions to “retired” politicians.

Take for instance, Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Both worked for the mining industry after leaving office.

Chretien went around the world, at the end of his political career, lobbying for the energy sector, while Mulroney has sat on the board of corporate directors for the largest gold-mining company in the world—Barrick—based in Toronto. The former leader has also had the privilege of being Chairman of Barrick’s International Advisory Board.

For John McKay a Liberal MP who has campaigned forcefully for accountability in the mining industry, he cannot help but echo this evidence that forces within the Canadian government are not operating on totally selfless motives.

“There are elements within the bureaucracy that don’t necessarily wish to see the ombudsperson have real abilities to access real investigations that have real consequences for real offenders,” McKay told The Post Millennial

Diplomatic flu

It is worth noting that McKay speaks with experience dating back to 2009 when he initiated efforts to hold the mining industry (as well as other members of the energy sector) accountable for human rights abuses abroad. The bill he tabled under the Harper government was consequently stopped after “possibly the most intensive lobbying interest known to mankind.”

Under McKay’s 2009 Private Member’s Bill C-300, three agencies—Export Development Canada, the Canada Pension Plan, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade—would have to withdraw funding from companies acting “inconsistently” with the principles of corporate social responsibility.

“I’m generally a balanced budget guy, fiscally responsible, respect a competitive tax environment, competitive regulatory environment, but I have absolutely no time for companies that play on the edges of corruption and abuse of human rights,” Mckay explained.

Much like guarantees for a powerful ombudsperson, McKay’s plans would not come to fruition.

Despite a minority Conservative government (voting unanimously against the bill), and support from the Bloc and NDP, the 2009 motion failed by six votes.

“A few of my erstwhile liberal colleagues seemed to go south on me just at the wrong time. Apparently, they had a severe case of ‘diplomatic flu’ when the vote came up,” McKay said tellingly.

Indeed, despite possibly record attendance by Conservative MP’s, “diplomatic flu” seems to have struck 14 Liberal MP’s who did not turn out to vote. Bill C-300 would be buried. 

This is the legacy of the mining industry in Ottawa, that has proceeded to perpetuate itself with continual “pressure and lobbying” observed by people like the Secretary-General of Amnesty International. Similarly, men like the Secretary-General have not failed to comment that action by the current government “doesn’t take us a step forward.”

Of course, there are options open to the disappointed members of the public that want to see an effective investigation into possible human rights abuses. As always, they can stage bold demonstrations. They might also—as some have suggested—make it an issue in the coming election.

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Barrick allowed to continue Porgera mine while lease extension considered

Reuters | 3 August 2019

Barrick Gold Corp said on Friday the National Court of Papua New Guinea had ruled that the miner could continue to operate the Porgera gold mine, while the country’s government considers an application to extend the lease for the mine.

The government is looking into an application by Barrick Niugini Ltd, a joint venture between Barrick and China’s Zijin Mining Group, for a 20-year extension on Porgera’s special mining lease that expires on August 16, the company had said.

Papua New Guinea’s recently elected Prime Minister James Marape has pledged to “tweak and turn” laws governing how natural resources are extracted to help lift the South Pacific country out of poverty.

“I am confident that we shall be able to reach a broad agreement on the terms of the lease extension,” Barrick’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said in Thursday’s statement.

In June, PM Marape said major reforms to earn more taxes from the country’s natural resources would not take effect for years, but the country’s treasurer put Total SA, Exxon Mobil Corp, Newcrest Mining and their partners on notice that it wants to get more benefits from their gas and mining projects.

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LOs Call For Unity On Mine License Renewal

Post Courier | July 26, 2019

Leaders and landowners of the Porgera Gold mine in Enga want Prime Minister James Marape to visit the mining district to get views of mine communities before the mine’s lease agreement expires next month.

They are also calling on the various landowner factions operating outside Porgera to return and consult with the people on the ground so a collective and proper position paper, representing the interests of the people can be presented to the national government.

Landowners of the Porgera special mine lease (SML), lease for mining purpose (LMP) and mining easement communities aired their concerns in Porgera last week.

They included chairman of the Ipili Porgera Investment (IPI) group of companies, Jolson Kutato, President of the Porgera women in business (WiB), Elizabeth larume, president of the Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Nickson Pakea, former president of the Porgera LLG and former deputy governor of Enga, John Pawe, SML leaders William Gaupe, George Yope and Mathew Yapala, Paiam ward member Perale Kana, SML councilor Sukul Tupia, Porgera District Women’s Association leader Wanoli Waiyape and SML landowner Arnold Kulina.

The landowners have called on the Prime Minister not to entertain any landowner faction groups operating from Port Moresby but to go to Porgera and directly consult with mine landowners.

“We are here and our position will be addressed here in Pogera and the government will receive our position paper in Porgera.

“Ongoing in fighting by landowner faction groups is causing confusion amongst the genuine landowners so the Pogera Landowners Association (PLOA) and Porgera Jus-tice Foundation need to sit down , iron out differences and properly discuss issues relating to the mine review with the Pogera people,” Mr Pawe said.

Mr Kutato who led the 1999 mine negotiations then as chairman of the landowner association said there are a lot of side issues the landowners need to fix before the mine lease expires.

He said landowners must take the review process very seriously if they are concerned about the future of their children because this will be the only time to renegotiate long-term benefits but nothing will be achieved if there is still division.

“The Prime Minister must listen to the concerns of the people and come to Porgera because the landowners and leaders are here.
We will formulate our position paper as united landowners to go into agreement with the government and developer and this has to be in Porgera,” Mr Kutato said.

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Enga landowners say Porgera talks broken down

Radio New Zealand | 28 June 2019

A landowning group at the site of the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province says negotiations with the owner Barrick have broken down.

The Canadian company is pushing to renew its contract in August for another 20 year period.

The company has said it had met with senior landowners to discuss their issues.

But the Justice Foundation for Porgera Ltd, which said it represented the bulk of local landowners, said without their commitment any agreement would be worthless.

It said Barrick needed to come to it to negotiate the necessary protocols.

The mine is currently the subject of a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit for damages caused over its 30-year life and PNG’s Prime Minister James Marape has recently committed to ensuring PNG citizens have greater control over their resource wealth.

The contract renewal comes amid unresolved allegations of rape, sexual assault, drownings and shootings at the mine site.

Justice Foundation for Porgera chair Jonathan Paraia said: “Barrick knows full well the vast majority of landowners are sick to death of the human rights abuses, the environmental destruction, the hollow promises”.

He said they were highly offended at the lack of respect Barrick’s CEO has shown towards them while trying to engage them in a significant international mining contract with a 20-year life.

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No tangible development in Western despite decades of mining

A father holds his malnourished son in Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Sally Lloyd

Marape Tells Awi Yoto To Improve Western

Leiao Gerega  | Post Courier | June 24, 2019

For almost 38 years Western province has seen no tangible development taking place despite helping the country generate millions in kina from the Tabubil mine.

The province remains one of the least developed in the country with low health status and lack of basic delivery of service to its people.

Prime Minister James Marape who visited the province on Friday to launch both the provincial and district five year development plans was implored by Governor Taboi Awi Yoto to look at the provinces needs which include;

  • Creation of one or two electorate added to the province’s current three electorates;
  • Uplift moratorium on the Province’s need to recruit new public servants;
  • Fix issues with the province’s dividend trust account through former operations with Ok-Tedi;
  • Find common ground on issues regarding WP’s major development program called the PNG sustainable development program;
  • Building of a major port to export its resources;
  • Request Ok-Tedi and Porgera to compensate middle and south Fly over mining waste pollution;
  • Current 33 percent shares in Ok-Tedi be lifted to previous 64 percent and
  • Stop fly-in and fly out of Ok Tedi workers to ensure money goes back to the people

Mr AwiYoto admits that the slow progress of development of the province was due to disunity amongst the leaders.

He assured Mr Marape that they are now ready to work together to ensure their people benefit from the money owed to them.

The 2018-2022 development plan under the theme “a new way forward” focuses on three key areas which are health, education agriculture and covers the province and its three districts in the Middle, South and North y.

“This is no easy task….everyone in this country have their own issues,” Mr Marape said while giving examples to how Buka and Lihir have fared poorly over the years despite the huge mining activities.

“Our agriculture and mining resources have been lost over the years while the people are suffering. Waigani is stealing from them and we are here now to turn things around,” Mr Marape said.

“These new work will take years but we want to direct and steer the country in the right path,” he said.

Mr Marape who travelled later to Tabubil to hear presentations from Ok-Tedi mining limited says everything will be discussed in Waigani after which they would strictly ensure monies owed to the people under various areas will be “unlocked.”

Mr AwiYoto says despite giving so much to the country the province has been failed by so many governments over the past years and is confident there is certainly a positive journey ahead.

Around 17,000 people gathered to welcome the prime minister at the Kiunga Township on Friday.

Mr Marape grew up as a child in Western province where his father was a Seventh Day Adventist pastor.

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