Tag Archives: Benny Allen

Watut river communities happy to see the back of Env Minister Benny Allan

The Union of Watut River Communities Inc (UoWRC Inc.) has thank the O’Neil Namah Government for overthrowing the former Abal Government and making changes including not giving a Ministerial portfolio to Mr Benny Allan, former Environment and Conservation Minister.

UoWRC Inc has pledged to work closely with the new Mining and Environment and Conservation Ministers to see the concerns of the Middle Watut Communities over the Hidden Valley Mining Joint Venture redressed and thanked Hon Bron Chan and Thomson Harokaqveh respectively.

The UoWRC Inc has brushed aside comments that UoWRC Members have been accepting compensation payment from the Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) over its damage to the Watut River and would bring their plight to the new Government.

Mr Reuben Mete, who is President of UoWRC, is now in Port Moresby aiming to resolve the Middle Watut communities of Mumeng LLG concerns once and for all.

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Don’t blame the miners, the problem is our corrupt leaders

By Professor  Roman Grynberg* 

I now live in Botswana. It is the great mainstream counter-example to the argument that mining is inherently destructive. Botswana exports one third of the world’s diamonds. It is hardly what I would call a great example of good government despite what the World Bank says,  but it is a good deal better (or at least was in the first 30 years of mining) than what I have seen in PNG or other resource rich countries in the islands region.

The reason is political- the elite here has reinvested the massive diamond reserves in the infrastructure and education of the country. You can see the diamonds in the roads, the schools, the dams, and the hospitals.

In defense of PNG, it does not nor never had anything like the huge Jwaneng diamond mine here in Botswana. To dig out one dollar of diamonds costs roughly 10 cents. It is the richest piece real estate on earth. The government cut an OK deal with De Beers and makes billions every year.

The elite in the mineral rich Pacific countries may have had many friends to spend and abuse the mineral and forestry resources on but they had a choice to use those resources with some wisdom or to squander them. They chose the latter and in Botswana, while they were very imperfect and made many mistakes but they did not steal, misappropriate, mismanage the mineral wealth on a massive scale.

In the end of course it will make little difference because once the diamonds are gone the wealth that was generated will not likely be sustainable and now there is evidence that the new generation of the Botswana elite is not behaving like the older generation. Corruption is growing and becoming more prevalent.

The difference between countries that have succeeded and failed ultimately rests with the quality of their ruling elite and the decisions they make. Generally speaking mining has had an awful track record in the developing world because governments have abused this wealth. Those countries with a genuinely developmental elite have prospered (eg Malaysia) and those with a parasitic elite (eg Philippines) that does not do anything but steal from its people see the non-renewable wealth of the nation in the bank accounts of the rulers.  This cannot be blamed on mining or logging per se but the decisions of those who rule.

*Senior Research Fellow, Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis

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Filed under Corruption, Papua New Guinea

Miners having a tough month in Papua New Guinea

It is proving to be a bad month for the mining industry in Papua New Guinea.

PNG’s Chief Inspector of Mines has shut down the Ramu nickel mine’s Basamuk refinery before it has even opened for business. All workers have been evacuated from the plant over health and safety fears. The mine is owned by MCC, a Chinese state enterprise, and Australian based, Highlands Pacific.

The Lihir gold mine has announced its second production down-grade for the year after electrical problems affected its processing plant. Initial estimates suggest the company could lose as much as $170 million while it tries to fix the faults in its power plant.

Production has also been halted at the huge Ok Tedi mine after the tailings pipeline sprang a series of leaks, spilling toxic waste which has seeped into local waterways. Production cannot resume until either the pipeline is replaced or a new tailings dam is constructed, in the meantime the clean-up exercise continues.

Meanwhile at Hidden Valley, tensions are high between the mining company and communities along the Watut river over continuing concerns about the pollution of the Watut river with acid forming rocks and soils that have increased sediment loads.

Times are also tough for Nautilus Minerals, owner of the Solwara 1 deep-sea mine. On Friday Nautilus had to announce it was abandoning plans to raise $150 million through a public share offering because of weakness in global financial markets. Nautilus wanted the funds to continue the development of its under sea mining plans. To rub salt in the wound, the Australian senate is set to vote on whether it will order an investigation of deep-sea mining and its potential impacts.

Other proposed mines facing problems are Panguna on Bougainville and Mt Kare in PNG’s central Highlands. Landholders from both areas are engaged in very public disputes over whether the mines should proceed and on what terms.

Barrick Gold, owner of the Porgera mine, is facing on-going criticism over serious human rights abuses in Papua New Guinea and Africa. The latest allegations to emerge concern the shooting dead of five local people at Barrick’s North Mara mine in Tanzania.

And it is not just the miners facing a hard time.

PNG’s Public Account Committee and Auditor General have heavily criticised the Mineral Resource Development Company, one of PNG’s richest public entities, over its financial record keeping which is described as ‘seriously defective’.

Finally the United Resources Party of Environment Minister Benny Allen has lost one of its Ministry’s in PNG’s ruling coalition with the sacking of Petroleum Minister, William Duma. One of the party’s highest profile donors, Australian Billionaire Clive Palmer has also fallen on hard times, having been forced to cancel the planned floatation of his resource company, sponsored by MCC (remember MCC also owns the Ramu nickel mine), after the market decided the float was over-priced and faced too many potential infrastructure hurdles.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea