Tag Archives: climate change

No to experimental seabed mining plans for Pacific, says PNG’s Cardinal Ribat

Meredith Kuusa |TVWan News | Pacific Media Centre News Desk | 31 May 2017

Papua New Guinea’s Catholic Church leader has given a resounding “no” to deep sea mining after returning from his visit to Germany.

The Archbishop of Port Moresby Archdiocese, Cardinal John Ribat, was highly critical of the proposed plans of the Canadian mining company Nautilus for the Pacific.

He spoke to a global conference as a representative for Oceania on the effects of climate change in the Pacific.

Cardinal Ribat was encouraged with the support he received when visiting the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said the Catholic Church was against deep sea mining because it would cause destruction to the surrounding environment.

He condemned the “shocking” robot machinery planned for the mining.

He said it would also not contribute to coping with climate change.

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Papua New Guinea moves to launch new coal mining industry

In 2006, a young girl walks between coconut palms on the coastline of Puil Island, part of the Carteret Islands, where rising sea levels eroded much of the coastlines and contaminated crops and freshwater. In 2009, evacuation began to nearby Bougainville Island. Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Greenpeace.

Catherine Wilson | Mongabay | 16 May 2017

Recent plans call for both coal mining and coal-fired electricity generation, raising questions about the government’s commitments to climate change action and leadership.

  • Two years ago, the Papua New Guinea government allocated $3 million for research into the viability of coal extraction.
  • An Australian company plans to build three mixed coal power generation plants in the country.
  • Proponents argue affordable and reliable electricity is needed to boost economic growth, while opponents cite environmental risks including the threat of climate change and rising sea levels.
  • Analysts also question how much urban-based power plants will raise electrification rates, since most un-electrified households are in rural areas that cannot easily be connected to electrical grids.

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government is actively pursuing the potential of developing a coal mining industry for the first time in the country’s history. Two years ago, it channeled 10 million kina (US$3million) to its Mineral Resources Authority for research into the viability of coal extraction. Now, an Australian company engaged in exploration is proposing to build three mixed coal power generation plants in the cities of Port Moresby, Lae and Madang, citing the need for affordable and reliable electricity to boost economic growth.

But environmental science experts and civil society groups are concerned about the potential environmental and climate impacts of developing a domestic coal industry, and the risk of undermining the country’s commitments to climate change action and leadership.

“It is no secret that the first ever climate change refugees in the world are from Papua New Guinea,” declared Dagia Aka, member of the youth climate change movement, 350 PNG.

In 2009 residents of the Carteret Islands in the far east of Papua New Guinea were forced to begin migration to nearby Bougainville Island after rising sea levels and the contamination of crops and freshwater sources rendered their island homes uninhabitable.

“Mining ventures in Papua New Guinea have a dark history of destroying the environment around them and there has been a failure to put measures in place to avoid such [damage],” Aka continued.

“Given the overall assessment of PNG’s energy policy and its natural resources, it is important not to develop the coal mining industry,” Chalapan Kaluwin, head of environmental science and geography and director of the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Papua New Guinea, told Mongabay.

“The sustainability of other energy sources, such as geothermal and renewable energy, including wind, solar and waves in the country, is significant. Coal mining has far more adverse negative impacts on the overall sustainability of PNG, its landowners and long-term health of its communities.”

Exploration underway

While three international companies — Waterford, Pacific Mining Partners and Mayur Resources — are currently engaged in coal exploration in PNG, the Department of Petroleum and Energy has yet to report the granting of any coal mining leases.

But Brisbane-based Mayur Resources, which is exploring for coal in the southern Gulf Province and claims to have discovered extensive reserves, is already planning to build three urban-based mixed coal electricity generation plants.

“The first project to build an Enviro Energy Park (EEP) at Lae with 2MW solar and 2x 30MW conventional generation fueled by domestic coal and PNG renewable biomass is in a very advanced stage waiting only the conclusion of a Power Purchase Agreement with PNG Power,” Paul Mulder, Managing Director of Mayur Resources told Mongabay.

He said the project already had environmental approval from the government’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), which was granted in June last year.

While Papua New Guinea does not yet have coal mines, it has already faced severe environmental impacts from mines, such as this open-pit gold mine in the country’s Western Province. Photo by Glen Barry/Greenpeace.

PNG’s extractive industries: costs and benefits

PNG, with major reserves of gold, copper, nickel, silver, oil and gas, has been a natural resources-dependent economy since Independence from Australia in 1975. The mineral resources sector alone accounts for more than one-third of government tax revenue. In 2013, taxes on the extractive industry amounted to US$292 million. From 2011-2013, it contributed an average 15.6 percent annually to the country’s GDP.

Coal, which remains one of the cheapest available sources of energy and fuel, drove industrialization and modernization in Europe and North America. But the environmental impacts of coal mining include the depletion of forest cover, air and water pollution, and contribution to global warming through the release of methane, a greenhouse gas, from natural coal seams. Burning coal to generate electricity produces carbon dioxide and oxides of sulfur and nitrogen, further contributing to the greenhouse effect.

This is a major concern for small Pacific Island developing states which are disproportionately exposed to climate change, whether in the form of extreme weather or rising sea levels.

In April last year, in line with the forceful advocacy by many Pacific Island leaders for industrialized nations to reduce their carbon footprint, Charles Lepani, PNG’s High Commissioner to Australia, publicly called on the Australian Government to downsize its coal mining industry in light of the Paris Climate Agreement and its goals.

Australia produced an estimated 16.3 metric tons of carbon emissions per capita in 2013, compared to 0.8 tons per capita in PNG, the most populous Pacific Island nation of 7.6 million people.

Forest lining the Bairaman River in PNG. New Guinea Island has some of the world’s largest and most biodiverse remaining tropical forests. Photo by Paul Hilton/Greenpeace.

“To cry foul to the major contributors to the fossil fuel industry and climate change, yet participate in something that will only make matters worse for us definitely does not paint a good picture,” Dagia Aka responded. “Pacific Island countries have a moral responsibility to take a lead with the Paris agreement simply because we are the ones facing the worst effects of climate change at this point in time.”

Other regional governments have also expressed concerns about coal mining. In 2015 leaders of Pacific Smaller Island States — comprising the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau and Tuvalu — issued the Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change which calls for “a global moratorium on all new coal mines.”

In countries across the region, higher sea levels and temperatures have led to the flooding of villages, coastal erosion, deteriorating crop yields and freshwater supplies. Affected communities have been forced to relocate in the Carteret Islands in PNG, Nuatamba and Nararo Islands in the Solomon Islands and Vanua Levu in Fiji.

Internal migration is a very expensive undertaking for Pacific Island governments presiding over small economies and restricted budgets already over-stretched with a wide range of human and socioeconomic development goals.

And the burden of adapting to climate change is only forecast to increase.  In PNG alone, annual mean and extremely high daily temperatures, ocean acidification and sea levels are all predicted to rise this century, reports the Pacific Climate Change Science Program (pdf). Under a high emissions scenario, annual surface air temperatures could rise between 2.1-4.2 degrees Celsius and sea levels by 0.87 meters by 2090.

Aerial view of a coal mining operation in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, illustrating the damage coal mining causes forests. Photo by Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace.

Future plans

The global pact reached at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris two years ago does not contain an explicit anti-fossil fuel stance. However, it does state “the need to promote universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries …. through the enhanced deployment of renewable energy” as part of the overall ambition of ensuring the global average temperature increase does not reach or exceed 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In March 2016, PNG, the first nation to submit its national plan for climate action following ratification of the Paris climate agreement, stated “the main mitigation contribution for PNG would be in terms of an indicative replacement of fossil fueled electricity generation with renewable energy sources” with a target of employing “100 percent renewable energy by 2030, contingent on funding being made available.”

Mayur Resources, developer of the Lae energy park, is keen to promote its support of the country’s transition to low carbon energy. It claims that its plants, by combining coal with renewable energy sources and employing state of the art clean emissions technology, will only result in PNG using coal for 10-20 percent of its power generation, in contrast to 71 percent in Australia. The company also argues the facilities will not increase emissions and comply with the nation’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

“The proposed [Enviro Energy Park] project will maintain the same level of carbon dioxide as the current level from the power generation sector, as nearly 40-50 percent of current power is being generated through diesel and heavy fuel oil. However, the EEP will bring in substantial environmental benefits to the ambient air quality [in Lae] by massively reducing the acid rain-causing gases, like oxides of sulfur, potentially 8-14 times less, and oxides of nitrogen, about 12 times reduced,” Mulder said.

However, while Mayur resources classes biomass as a carbon-reducing element of the project, many researchers question the tendency to classify biomass as a carbon-neutral energy source.

London-based Chatham House reports that “while some instances of biomass energy use may result in lower lifecycle emissions than fossil fuels, in most circumstances, comparing technologies of similar ages, the use of woody biomass for energy will release higher levels of emissions than coal and considerably higher levels than gas.”

Rounded white stones line the Bairaman river in West Pomio district. Photo by Paul Hilton/Greenpeace.

Mayur Resources further says its planned coal mines will result in minimal land disturbance mainly due to “the scale of these operations being very small compared to most other mines globally…..being in the bottom 1 percent of the smallest mines.”

But the University of Papua New Guinea’s Kaluwin claims the full potential impacts of the company’s planned operations are still to be thoroughly assessed.

“The impacts on the environment, destruction of land, atmospheric pollution, water, livelihoods, health, housing, education, culture and traditions, economic benefit sharing and most importantly governance, have not been properly evaluated for such a project to be implemented in PNG,” he said.

Businesses and the government also make an economic argument for coal. Mayur Resources believes that low electricity generation costs of about $0.10 per kilowatt hour, about 35-40 percent lower than the average wholesale cost of power in the local area, will boost business and industrial growth in the eastern coastal city of Lae. The urban center is strategically located between a major cargo shipping port and the Highlands Highway, the only overland transport network into the country’s heavily populated interior.

However, these urban-based plants will contribute little to increasing electricity coverage in rural and remote areas of the country where more than 80 percent of PNG’s population resides and energy deprivation is the greatest.

In this 2003 image, Melanie John, Lulu John, Aebi Sakas and Warume Sakas walk along a logging road in Western Province. The majority of PNG’s population continues to live in rural areas, which are nearly impossible to connect to a national electrical grid. Photo by Sandy Scheltema/Greenpeace.

Energy poverty is a major development challenge in the region.  Only 20 percent of households across the Pacific Islands region, and 12 percent in PNG, have access to electricity, hindering human and socioeconomic development.  An estimated 40 percent of PNG’s population live in hardship, only 63 percent are literate and only 40 percent have access to clean water.

Geographical barriers, such as arduous mountain terrain, dense forest and scattered islands, separated by the sea, make a national power grid virtually impossible. In this context, energy experts recommend greater investment in off-grid and standalone power systems, especially those compatible with renewable technologies, to achieve a substantial improvement in rural and, therefore, national electrification.

“Papua New Guinea, being a tropical island state, is a prime area for solar and hydro clean energy,” Dagia Aka emphasized.

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Coal power generation given green light by CEPA

coal fired power

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Frankiy Kapin | Post Courier | January 05, 2017

MAYUR Resource’s first proposed mixed coal power generation of 50 megawatts in in the country represents a miniscule [sic] 0.005 per cent, according to the company. Mayur stated that the area of impact will be comparatively minor, whilst it will use simple mining techniques and no need for chemical processing.

PNG will mine around 300,000 tons of coal per year while Indonesia mines 300 million (and increasing) – 1000 times more and by comparison in Queensland the recently approved Adani mine will abstract up to 60 million tons per year – one of the biggest coal mines in the world, says Mayur Resources.

“Even Japan, in the post Fukushima age, is building 43 coal new fired power stations in the next 12 years that will be 467 times bigger than what PNG is proposing. Indonesia is building 100 new coal-fired power stations to lift its people to a superior level of living standard which is one thousand times bigger against PNG’s proposed EEP. In Asia alone, there is over 1 million MW of new coal fired power capacity in the pipeline. Mayur’s EEP is 50MW, which represents a miniscule 0.005 per cent of this figure. ”

The Enviro Energy Parks (EEP) will produce 15 per cent less carbon dioxide (CO2) against diesel via the use of biomass and cogeneration by product steam use. The energy park (EEP) also reduces by 16 times and 11 times respectively sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that is prolifically emitted in the middle of cities in PNG. 

Mayur says the EEP has been fully permitted by Conversation, Environmental Protective Authority (CEPA) as a result of being able to meet the reduced emissions stated above.

“This permit represents a new benchmark for power generation in PNG with significantly tightened emissions standards against current practice. These new standards have surpassed even what is acceptable in our first world neighbor Australia,” Mayur said.

The EEP has access to domestic (in country) vertically integrated coal supply as well as biomass and solar. (delinking power costs through vertical integration).

“The key here is priority to the power station has been contracted and will benefit the people by keeping energy costs lower. The vertical integration allows the coal price to be decoupled from international energy markets so that a far lower coal price is provided to the power station that directly benefits the people – this is responsible vertical integration where the people get the benefit from the resources,” said Mayur.

Mayur Power 1

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UN Resident Coordinator, Roy Trivedy On Coal Mining in PNG

Leanne Jorari | EMTV News | 7 December 2016

Earlier this week EMTV News reported on the heated debate of coal mining in PNG and since then critics have joined in the debate.

The opposition will not support a coal industry, regardless of it being a lucrative business.

Also speaking against coal mining, UN’s resident coordinator, Roy Trivedy says,

“We should just leave the coal in the ground.”

Affordable and Clean energy is the seventh goal on the list of the United Nations’ global Sustainable Development Goals.

With this in mind, PNG being a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, many have opposed the idea of coal being mined in the country.

The fossil fuel has many adverse effects including the emissions of
greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

Mr Trivedy, who himself is quite vocal about renewable energy, spoke out against coal mining in the country.

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Coal Mineral Explorer says, Coal has bright future in PNG

coal-mining

Leanne Jorari | EMTV News | 5 December 2016

There is ongoing debate about Coal mining in PNG, its use as a source of energy, and the effects the fossil fuel’s use on the environment.

Studies have revealed that there is enough high quality coal in the Gulf Province, to run a 50-megawatt power station for 30 years,but the question begs: at what cost is coal usage?

There is an obvious absence of a local coal mining industry in the country however this may soon change. Mineral explorer, Mayur Resources, believes coal has a bright future in the country and could help to alleviate power shortages if the resource is tapped into and developed.

However, there have been polarising debates about the development of this particular fossil fuel, especially concerning environmental implications.

Industry expert, Peter McCabe, weighed in on the topic; stating that if it is mined well and in an environmentally friendly way, an area can be mined and later, the land can be restored.

However the burning of coal has been found to emit harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide and sulfur [sic] dioxide and strong regulation is vital. The move may also contravene PNG’s pact as a signee to international Climate Change mitigation agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

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Mayur company optimistic about coal power

Mayur Power 1

Frankiy Kapin | Post Courier | November 30,2016

MAYUR Resources power generation company from Australia is very optimistic in delivering the country’s first coal fired power station in Lae says managing director Paul Mulder.

Mr Mulder said on Monday in Lae the company has submitted a power purchasing agreement (PPA) to PNG Power Limited and is awaiting approval of the project year marked for 2019.

Mayur Resources is proposing to employ multi fuel clean coal technology and not a standard coal fired power station to supply 50 Megawatts (MW) of electricity to Lae city in the Morobe province.

He said Mayur will mine 250,000-350,000 tons of coal per annum from the Gulf Province and ship it to Lae for its power plant.

Mr Mulder said in perspective, China mines 3.6 billion tons of coal annually and Indonesia 3 million tons annually for their power stations.

He said Mayur was ready to deliver the cheapest, most reliable and environmentally friendly power supply that will improve the standards of living for customers.

Mr Mulder was accompanied by retired Australian Kangaroos captain and National Rugby League (NRL) icon Darren Lockyer who is also a shareholder of Mayur Resources to the University of Technology in Lae for an open forum attended by the Lae Chamber of Commerce, the Unitech senior management including Chancellor Sir Nagora Bogan and Vice Chancellor Albert Schram. The Morobe Provincial Government was invited but no representative turned up at the forum.

Mr Mulder said PNG is one third of the global population apart from its surrounding regions in the Asia Pacific who can utilise clean coal energy to alleviate poverty.

He said the quality of coal in PNG is far better than in Australia as well Mayur believes the company can meet all the commitments of Kyoto and COP21 arrangements to reduce greenhouse emissions and other pollutions. And as well significantly reduce the price of electricity.

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PNG Cabinet yet to receive coal power plant bid

coal fired power

Rosalyn Albaniel | Post Courier | November 29, 2016

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says cabinet has not received any proposal on the coal-fired power plants that Australian-based company, Mayur Resources, is proposing to establish to remedy the country’s power deficiencies.

Mr O’Neill was responding to questions on the proposal by Australian company Mayur Resources to build three coal-fired power stations in the country. Furthering its implications is the climate change initiatives PNG has signed up to.

Mayur Resources is proposing to build three of what it says are multi-fuel facilities with clean coal technology and not standard coal-fired power plants.

The first has been earmarked for Lae city and which will supply 50 megawatts of electricity at a cost between K300 million and K400 million using coal that would be mined and shipped from Gulf Province.

The other two power stations will be built in Madang and Port Moresby.

Mr O’Neill said it was early days still to jump to any conclusion as to whether this was going to be an issue that would be bad for the country.

However, Mr O’Neill said advice would be sought from appropriate experts including from Conservation and Environment Protection Authority before any conclusive decision was reached on this project.

“It is quite obvious that coal generated energy is much cheaper than even hydro, gas and everything else and that is why countries like Australia and all the other big countries like Japan and India are using coal today as we speak.

“We must have an open mind but yes we are signatories to the climate change outcomes including COP21 and we will have to comply with them.

“We have already accepted that through Parliament and we have no choice but to work within that framework,” Mr O’Neill said.

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