Tag Archives: Chinese mining

Papua New Guinea Gold mine to become a top tier mining asset while landowners’ rights ignored

Financial Post

The most basic needs and rights of Papua New Guinea landowners are being completely disregarded while a Canadian and Chinese consortium talks up the potential of an internationally significant gold mine ahead of a PNG Government decision on the mine’s lease renewal.

Porgera Gold mine in remote Enga Province of Papua New Guinea expired last year and consortium made up of Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp and China’s Zijin Mining wants their lease to be extended for another 20 years.

A majority group of landowners, the Justice Foundation for Porgera headed up by the PNG Resource Owners Chairman Jonathan Paraia believes Barrick has no intention to deliver on promises it’s making to reduce environmental destruction or stop practices that damage local lives.

“Barrick has had 20 years to adequately deliver on its promises to resettle landowners, provide housing, education, clean drinking water so how can we for a moment believe that it will start honouring promises made under new contracts,” he said

“How many more independent reports detailing environmental and human rights abuses need to be published before the mine is held to account,” he said.

Mr Paraia understands Barrick needs this lease to be renewed so it can conclude a deal with Chinese state-owned entity Zijin.

“If the lease is renewed Barrick will not see it out, it intends to divest its share to its Chinese partner or someone else,” he said.

In 2015 Barrick Niugini officials told Landowners to make an offer for 95% of shares in Porgera mine but we could only make an offer for 10% so there was no sale. Instead in 2017 it sold half its shares to Zijin. We believe its goal is to sell its remaining shares once the lease is renewed.

The Chairman of the Justice Foundation for Porgera is also extremely concerned about a 70 million kina (almost $20M US) donation made to the Enga Provincial Government last week by the Chinese Government.

“The extremely generous donation while a decision on the mine is imminent is highly suspicious at best, and deserves a high level of scrutiny,” he said.

Jonathan Paraia also wants Barrick and elements of the PNG Government to stop cherry-picking supportive minority landowners with conflicts of interest and listen to the vast majority who want Barrick out.

“In the last fortnight, as part of Prime Minister James Marape delegation to Enga, Minister Johnson Tuke, Minister Bryan Kramar and Mineral Resources Authority head Jerry Garry unofficially visited the mine site and met with Barrick employees and contractors who claimed to be landowner representatives.

“Two of the guests, in particular, Dick Pundi a director of Ipili Porgera Investments Ltd (IPI) and Maso Mangape an employee of IPI claim to represent the interests of Landowners when IPI is a major service provider to Barrick, so whose interests are they serving?” he said.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera is aware the Prime Minister is adamant to take over the Porgera Gold Mine but other representatives of government are acting against the interest of the Prime Minister.

“The people of Porgera and the Justice Foundation for Porgera know the Prime Minister James Marape is listening to the people and has the best interests of our country at heart.

“We stand behind the Prime Minister and support him to say Barrick out, it’s time Papua New Guineans profited from Papua New Guinea’s valuable resources,” Mr Paraia said.

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Second Phase Of Ramu Investigation To Be Done, Says Environment Minister

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | January 15, 2020

Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori says they will leave no stone unturned with regards to the Basamuk slurry spillage last year.

He said they will be conducting more studies along the coastline in Madang to ensure that there is no environmental damage done following this slurry spill from the Ramu nickle and cobalt project.

He said they will be looking into all the drainage system into the Astrolabe Bay as far as Matukar on the North Coast all the way to Saidor in Rai Coast district of Madang province.

“We will also do strategic fishing right across the island up to Karkar and back and we will do a thematic mapping to show the distribution of the fish so we can contrast back to the permits,” he said.

“For the second phase, as soon as we get the funding for from Treasury we will roll it out but we want to do it this month.”

Mr Mori said CEPA is done with the reconnaissance stage.

“Now that we know what we want to arrive at, the next program will be designed to achieve that outcome and that’s what’s going to happen in the second phase.”

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Mori Reassures That Madang Waters Are Safe

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | January 15, 2020

Residents of Madang Province, especially those living along the coastline, can now eat fish and use the sea.

Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori yesterday gave the clearance following an investigation done by the office of Conservation and Environment Protection Authority.

He said the waters are safe for use as elements tested were below detection limit. This was after the slurry spillage which has occurred in August last year.

Mr Mori said CEPA is contrasting and comparing the preliminary results of their investigation to the baseline studies that has been done in the past and will give what will be the allowable permits that was granted by environment and conservation for the operations of Ramu nickle project.

He said the reconnaissance has been done and the sampling has been taken especially on the quality of water, immediately around Basamuk as well as areas into the bay have shown that most of the results are below the detection limit.

“The elements that were tested included arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and zinc.

The results returned showed that all of them were below what was allowable in the permits,” he said.

“Being a nickel mine, you would expect a very high elevated reading of nickel. What was allowed under the permit was 1000 parts per million of nickel,” he said.

“However, the test in the water quality taken in December taken by the independent team showed that it returned a range of results ranging from 0.5 parts per million to 17.2 parts per million which is far less than the expected permits allowable under the operations of the nickel mine.”

Mr Mori said the fish in the waters of Madang are safe and urged the people of people of Madang to go back and live their normal lives.

He said another part of the investigation will be looking at fish tissues however for fish tissues people must be able to understand and appreciate that the environment of which those marine organisms especially fish caught around waters concerned are located around an area of high geo tectonic activities.

“We are expected to find elevated readings of some of the elements that we know and are being testing but we are going to contrast that back once again to the allowable limits which are specified in the permits that were done before the permitting of the mine,” Mr Mori said.

“These results when ready will come in place and we will inform the people through parliament for the next month.”

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Aust Contractor To Back Govt-Sanctioned Probe Into Ramu Mine Spill

Post Courier | December 9, 2019

A Government-sanctioned investigation into the Basamuk slurry spill incident in Madang will be undertaken as a highly integrated multi-disciplinary study approach.

Environment Conservation and Climate Change Minister Wera Mori said this before leaving PNG for the global climate change conference, the Conference of Parties (COP) 25 in Madrid, Spain yesterday.

He gave a briefing on the spill incident indicating government’s total and utmost commitment towards addressing the issue.

He said the study objective now is to obtain all necessary information and data for a well informed decision to be made regarding the spill based on conclusive scientific evidence as “science does not lie.”

Mori said an initial investigation done by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) indicated no pollution, but because of the widespread outcry and a contradicting report by an investigation done by a Dr Alex Mojon engaged by the Madang provincial government, the national government has now taken a further step to address the issue.

He said Cabinet has already approved for a comprehensive investigation, and BMT Eastern Australia Pty Ltd has been contracted to support the investigation as it is a leading international multi-disciplinary engineering, science and technology consultancy firm offering a broad range of services in the environment, energy, shipping, ports and defense sectors.

“The Water and Environment Group of BMT is recognised as one of Australia’s premier environmental consultants and they operate across the five continents in over 30 countries.

“We are getting them on board so that there is credibility in the investigation that will be conducted.

“It will be extensive, and with support from our CEPA technical officers, they have already conducted the first phase which is the reconnaissance trip or sampling plan trip.

“The second trip is sampling plan implementation or sampling, and this will be done after the New Year where all parties will be involved including representatives from the Madang provincial government so that samplings are done accurately and cannot be compromised,” Mr Mori said.

He said all parties including independent investigators, experts and a team from the Madang provincial government will also be part of the sampling.

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Axiom mining claims Solomon PM’s Chief of Staff sought $700,000

Axiom had its foreign investment licence cancelled by the Solomon Islands government in October this year and has been told that its expatriate workers were no longer able to stay in the country.

Solomon Times | 4 December 2019

The Australian newspaper reports that the Prime Minister’s chief of staff (prior to his appointment in October 2016) had sought payments from Axiom to smooth over problems with the government at the time.

Axiom mining chief Ryan Mount said Robson Djokovic, who is Mr Sogavare’s nephew and has a criminal record in Australia, had sought AUD$700,000 “consultancy” through a Fijian lawyer to allow the company to hold on to its Isabel Nickel project.

“When we looked at the company records, it was half-owned by Robson Djokovic,” Mr Mount said.

He said he refused to pay, and the ASX-listed company was being forced out of the country in favour of a Chinese company that caused the Solomon Islands biggest environmental disaster.

Mr Mount has pleaded for Australian government assistance, telling senior advisers to Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne that the company, which has 8000 shareholders, was being denied due process by the Solomon Islands government.

Amid moves to strengthen relations with Pacific governments, Mr Mount said he was told by a senior official at the Australian high commission in Honiara that it was “time to pack your bags” and leave the country.

Mr Djokovic, an Australian citizen, told The Australian via text message that the allegations against him were “a smear”.

He said his criminal convictions for burglary, fraud and drug offences “are no longer relevant but have been used for political convenience” by Mr Mount and others seeking to undermine him.

Wilson Rano, a well-known lawyer in Solomon Islands, posted on social media that he was in fact the person referred to in the article by The Australian.

“I recall having a meeting with Ryan Mount, and Mr Stratton (an Australian Lawyer) representing Axiom Mining Company Limited at Nadi, Fiji in 2016. This was after Axiom KB Ltd was licking its wounds from the SMM v Axiom Case which our Court of Appeal dismissed both Axiom’s Licence and SMM’s licence and found that the Commissioner of Lands with the help of Axiom KB Ltd and Ryan Mount illegally registered a lease over Takata/Kolosori tenement,” Rano explained.

He said that the meeting in Fiji was purposely to come up with a legislation that could give clarity to the whole mining process and help secure the San Jorge and Takata Tenements for Axiom Mining Co Ltd.

“It is an idea which Mr Mount was championing in light of his position that the Mines and Minerals Act simply failed to recognize investors like Axiom and how Axiom is the only company capable of properly mine San Jorge and Takata.

“As a professional, my position has always been that I would be willing to do all legal means possible to do the work in consultation with Mr Stanton and Axiom if Axiom is prepared to put its money where its mouth is. I drafted a consulting agreement between Axiom Mining Co Ltd and myself and stated that my consulting fees is AUD$700,000 and payable on instalments upon achievement of each stages of the proposed legislation.”

Rano says that having received instructions from Axiom he sought the assistance of Mr. Djokovic, at the time was a freelance consultant and was not yet employed by the Solomon Islands Government. Rano says that by the end of October 2016, Mr Djokovic joined the Government as Chief of Staff and advised that he could no longer be involved.

“Because Axiom could not afford to, we could not take the matter further. It is not however, because Mr Mount discovered that Mr Djokovic was a partner in Echelon Consulting Ltd. Echelon Consulting Ltd was a registered company I registered in 30 January 2015 and has nothing to do with Mr Djokovic,” said Mr. Rano.

“The only connection between Mr Djokovic and Echelon Consulting Ltd is me. It is no secret that Mr Djokovic and I have been business partners for many years which on his part has been disclosed in full to the Leadership Code Commission.”

Axiom had its foreign investment licence cancelled by the Solomon Islands government in October this year and has been told that its expatriate workers were no longer able to stay in the country.

Mr. Mount continues to argue that the country’s pro-China Minister for Mines, Bradley Tovosia — a key figure in the campaign to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan — was a leading figure in moves to deny the company an export permit.

The move — a month after the Solomons switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China — follows the denial of an export permit to Axiom and the assignment of one of its prospective tenements to the Hong Kong-based Bintan Mining.

Bintan sparked a massive Australian government-funded clean-up earlier this year when one of its bauxite ships spilled 80 tonnes of heavy fuel oil on an environmentally sensitive reef on Rennell Island, South of the Solomon Islands.

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Madang governor hits out at PNG govt over Ramu mine water contamination

Radio New Zealand | 18 November 2019 

The governor of Papua New Guinea’s Madang province has hit out at the government over the impact of mine waste in Basamuk Bay.

Peter Yama said the Environment and Conservation Minister Wera Mori was out of line in challenging results from recent testing of water samples off Madang’s coast.

The tests by a team led by Swiss scientist Alex Mojon linked dead marine life to waste from the Ramu nickel mine.

The team was hired by Madang’s provincial government.

Mr Mori has questioned the methodology of Dr Mojon’s team and suggested the mine owner, RamuNico, may not be to blame.

However, Mr Yama said the minister was trying to deflect.

“So, we have two different doctors and two different teams to come up with two different laboratory tests. So, we know that what we are talking about is right, and we do not try to confuse anybody for this matter. But yet, you know how the politicians are…

“They are passing the buck to MRA (Mineral Resources Authority), and MRA is they are passing the buck to CEPA (Conservation and Environment Protection Authority).”

Along with CEPA officials, Mr Mori, who was appointed last week, said dead marine life was being seen dozens of kilometres away in other parts of the Madang region and therefore may not have been caused by the Ramu mine.

But the governor said the mine’s toxic effects had been building up for years, causing an environmental issue that must be addressed for the sake of Madang communities.

He confirmed people in his province were still unable to access food and livelihoods since fishing in the Basamuk Bay area was banned due to recent deaths and illnesses linked to a slurry spill from the mine operations.

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Minister brushes aside scientists’ Ramu reports


Freddy Mou | Loop PNG | 14 November 2019


Minister for Environment and Conservation, Wera Mori, has labelled scientific findings by the scientists from Switzerland, led by Dr Alex Mojon, as baseless and untrue.

Minister Mori claims the report by Dr Mojon intends to tarnish the good name of the current Government.

The newly-appointed Minister for Environment and Conservation has brushed aside reports by scientists engaged by the Madang Provincial Government to investigate environmental damages at Ramu NiCo’s Basamuk processing plant.

He further condemned a statement by a local scientist engaged to investigate the cause of the marine creatures dying in Madang after the spillage.

The Madang Provincial Government, through the Provincial Administrator’s office, invited the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority and other government line agencies to a collaborative meeting with a group of experts, led by Dr Mojon. This was to undertake investigations into the impact of mining activities by the Ramu Nickel Mine.

Mori has also urged the people of Madang not to be fooled by “fake reports” on social media until proven otherwise in laboratories.

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