Tag Archives: Frieda river mine

Post Courier calls for new approach to landowner consultation

Wafi-Golpu And Frieda River Proposed Mines Are Nothing New To PNG

Post Courier Editorial | February 4, 2019

Papua New Guinea of all places in the world should know better than most other advancing, under developed and developing worlds what the price of new world class mines operations entail.

The industry itself is so sophisticated and complex that for an infant resource based country like PNG, the understanding and economics of the business has yet to be fully understood and appreciated. That is not to say PNG has not had its say and experienced what it means because the country’s history itself has demonstrated to the world what can and cannot go wrong in such developments.

It is a painful memory to give Bougainville as an example because that was the first ever manifestation of a culmination of events that took place because of the absence of modern day dialogue between developers and the local people of PNG.

Bougainville is too painful an experience to always delve on due to the that it was the first time ever that a civil war was fought on PNG soil. PNG’s experience are the two World Wars where it was not spared the agony of witnessing human beings being slaughtered and killed at random at the behest of two or more foreign powers attempting to take control of the world.

PNG was just caught up in the international quagmire of geo-political and militarily ambitious strategic to be the best in the world.

The point here then is that PNG is not short of world or international experience and exposure that it has learnt or not from. In this case Wafi and Golpu plus Freida River proposed gold and copper mines are the perfect opportunity to showcase what PNG can do when it comes to benefit streams which is what all landowners are screaming murder about at the moment. So with the unique experience that many of PNG’s outstation and communication officers process, perhaps the two new mining projects should set the new standards and technical understanding of what new resources development projects should be realigned in relation to connections with local people.

This is as opposed to the standard policies and principles contained within all mining and other resource projects agreements and understandings.

This means where there is no clear clarification of how best landowners should be involved in progressive developments be they technical or project economics, they should be debriefed like all other stakeholders.

It is about time where local landowners considered illiterate and uneducated are left out from the technical briefings provided and with the wishful thinking that community liaison officers can best do the job on behalf of developers and investors to explain basic project economics to curtail resentment. Landowners should be engaged from day one until project agreements are signed so as to avoid the prevailing misconceptions about who benefits most from the millions invested in projects.

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Who benefits from the exploitation of our natural resources?

Lester Seri

Last week the Sepik River People published a Public Announcement Advertisement, making clear their stand, “Ban Frieda River Mine”.  This is a repeat of their previous announcements to ban the mine.

Interesting to note that the Governor of the East Sepik Province rightly seem to be responsible and cautious by allowing for proper consultation and hearing everyone out in order to take a collective decision, but there are other MPs that seem to want the process fast tracked and give the green light for the mine development to take place quickly.

One wonders why the rush considering the enormity of the mining tasks involved of the planned project, the rugged geographical setting, and the likely social and environmental implications that might  arise out of it affecting the multitude of the people in the area, as we have seen in the other mines such as, Ok Tedi, Pogera, and Bougainville to name a few?

It seems like we have never learnt any lessons from these other mine projects to do a better job in order to minimize social and environmental impacts while improving on just and equitable sharing and distribution of the benefits from the proceeds of the mineral exports?

For whatever number of years that Ok Tedi and Pogera Mines have been in operation and the billions of revenue these mines have generated, it is beyond belief that little if any has change in the lives of the landowners and the surrounding communities, I mean basic necessities such as improved income,  electricity, water supply, hausik and medicines, schools, and better constructed road network, and business opportunities for the people in the region. How does one explain this real hard reality situation that we are experiencing in Papua New Guinea, after 42 years of political independence and billions of dollars of revenue generated?

The same could be said about our people on Bougainville Island, after how many years of the Panguna Mine and the many many millions of Kina that it generated, and after the mine closed due to civil war, what is there to show for, in terms of “development”, in real terms? The same could be said of the Misima mine and the people too?

I guess the question that needs answering is, who has and is actually benefiting out of the exploitation of our precious natural resources? More precisely, how are our own people, especially in the rural areas of these multi-billion dollar project areas, really benefiting? The fact that as citizens, we barely scrape through every year despite billions of Kina annual budget being handed down, and effectively there is nothing to show for, is quite troubling to live with.

May be, as a People and a Nation, we should acknowledge the stand taken and the call made by the Sepik River People, this time, and take a step back and critically look at our natural resources extraction policies, laws and strategies again by identifying those serious issues and problems that we have had and faced in the last 42 years, and answer the question, why have we not done well and made any real progress in our development endeavour, in order to do what might be the right thing or way to do to realize that collective desired progressive difference? This challenge should not be that difficult to do as there have been and continue to be scores of scholarly papers / books that have been written about PNG experience over the years relating to our developmental challenges that should guide us to do the right thing, for once!

One problem for sure, in my humble view, is that, in the course of the 42 years of our independence, we have had all the time and opportunity to take a bold stance and make major policy shift to make a big  and better difference but we just did not have that, bold, strong, honest and responsible leadership to do it, and our situation and sufferings today is a testament, that we had quality leadership failure. We need good, strong, bold, determined and responsible leadership with moral authority committed to doing the right thing by their people for now and into the future. 

It is my greatest hope that the Governor of East Sepik and the Leaders responsible for this major mine development will take heed of the our peoples’ call and do what is proper and right by all and guide the nation along a more prosperous developmental path into the future, a better one than what we have been through thus far?

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Sepik people say no to Frieda River mine

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February 4, 2019 · 8:23 am

MP wants mines to learn from Ok Tedi’s history of pollution

Will the mighty Sepik River end up a “dead river” like her sister, the Fly?

The National aka The Loggers Times | February 1, 2019

NORTH Fly MP James Donald says the pollution of the Fly River by Ok Tedi mine should be a lesson for other mines in the country.

He called for a review of the Porgera Gold Mine because the mine was contributing to pollution.

Donald said with huge pollution issues facing the province, the experience of Ok Tedi and Fly River should be a lesson for other mines like the Frieda mine project whose operation can affect the Sepik River.

Donald said to put his grievance on record, the Conversation Environment Protection Agency (formerly the Department of Environment and Conservation) had been “very weak”.

He said record showed that issues of the people were never handled.

Donald said the people of Western were being affected by the activities of Ok Tedi and Porgera mines, therefore there was a need to review the Porgera mine operations because it was affecting the Fly River.

“People are really affected and how can you allow us to be affected by two mines like these? We have to review Porgera also because we are feeling the pain of the damage caused by the two mines,” he said.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop said dumping mine waste into the river system is only practised in PNG.

“No other country practises them, not even in the US, in Europe or Australia but here we allow that to happen. Are we less human in allowing mining companies to dump their sediments and waste into the river systems?

“We must continue to invest in tailing dams, we can‘t continue to dump tailings into the river.”

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MP Mirisim Supports No Fly-In-Fly-Out for Frieda mine

Matthew Vari | Post Courier | January 23, 2019

Member for Telefomin and Minister for Defence, Solan Mirisim has appealed to the Freida River project developers to seriously not take on the fly-in-fly-out arrangements for mine staff.
Mr Mirisim said this last week during a press conference held alongside Minister for National Planning and Yangoru-Saussia MP Richard Maru and Ambunti Drekikir MP Johnson Wapunai in Port Moresby regarding the Freida River project development.
“That also goes for Freida River project, there is no fly-in-fly-out, there is got to be a township so let the landowners and all the employers comes in to participate in the local economy and communities.
“So let me appeal to the company or developer that there should not be any fly in fly out and there has got to be a township.
“Township we have been planning for a big airport in Green River in the center where the township can be up to the Freida River project township.”Mr Mirisin’s district sits where the project is set to be developed, and his comments on the issue were made on the back of Minister Maru’s stance on the issue that no such arrangement is to take place for the Wafi-Golpu project in Morobe.“We are building a national airport there (Morobe) at the cost of K1.5 billion. It has a city of its own and it will be an anchor development that will complement the airport.“And Morobe and Lae already have the wharf and facilities and I really want to see that, and there cannot be any excuse as far as I am concerned.“Morobe and Papua New Guinea must get maximum benefit from the development of their resources,” Mr Maru commented on the Wafi Golpu project development.

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Landowner anger grows about continuing mining destruction

Peter S Kinjap | PNG Attitude | January 21, 2019

One of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper and gold deposits on the Frieda River, a tributary of the Sepik, is opposed by local indigenous landowners and all right-thinking Papua New Guineans.

The Frieda River deposit is thought to contain 13 million tonnes of copper and 20 million ounces of gold and tens of thousands of people fear the likelihood of serious river system contamination and the threat to the ecosystem that supports them.

A spokesman for environment group Project Sepik, Emmanuel Peni, said there was widespread opposition to the mine’s development plan.

“From Iniok village, which is where the barges and ships stop at the Frieda River, right down to the mouth of the Sepik, people are against the mine,” Peni said.

“They are concerned about possible contamination of the river system and the destruction of the environment along the Frieda and the Sepik River system.”

The East Sepik Provincial government and the national government had not yet responded to the concerns and grievances that have been raised.

Land in the Papua New Guinea context means the natural environment including land, rivers and seas.

In Madang Province, the landowners of Basamuk, Begesin, Ramu and Kurumbukari villages are affected by the Ramu nickel mine in various ways.  The Chinese state-owned mine has been polluting the beautiful coastal seas and people have been denied their food gardens and fishing waters.

In a recent documentary, ‘Uprooted’, the people clearly showed their pain about the river system contamination and the environmental destruction. They are fearful of losing their land to large scale development.

The deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) method of mine waste management and disposal which the Ramu mine proposed and was approved by the PNG government is causing a lot of environmental destruction and river contamination. 

“I belong to the government and the government belongs to me,” Martin Dampat, a Mindere landowner, said in the documentary. “How can it abandon me? It must do all that it can to ensure that I am able to feed myself.

“It has the ability to do so. But, if it chooses not to, then I know the government has no concern for me.  We have reached our limits. We have done all we can. They’ve rejected everything we’ve said.

“We feel we can’t do anything anymore. Some have given up trying,” he said.

“There is a great heaviness in all our hearts. I don’t think anyone can remove it from within us. We will go. But our grandchildren bear hardships even greater that what we’re experiencing.”

Another disgruntled landowner, John Oma from Ganglau Landowner Company, said: “They don’t have the land to grow their food. They won’t have an ocean to catch their fish.

“Where will they eat from? Nowhere. Great hardship awaits them. We won’ be able to avoid the troubles that will come. It’s the same sea. Life will be difficult for them too.”

And Sama Mellombo from the Pommern Land Group in Ramu said:

“It’s a fearful feeling when you think about the health effects on people and the inhabitants of the seas. If we take action now to tell China to find an alternative method, I think that’s the right approach. Find an alternative method instead of dumping waste into the sea. We live by the sea.”

Former Madang governor, Sir Arnold Amet, said:

“The government has endorsed the actual deep sea tailings deposit and an environmental plan. I think it is our assurance that the laying down of the pipe will not affect the lives of our people.  

“And the whole project has been signed and sealed by the national government and relevant agencies.”

A confused landowner from Ramu said:

“We hear that the minister has come. We hear that the member has come. We hear that the mine boss has come. But we’re confused. For the people here in Mindere and Ganglau, we feel like we’re about to die because we don’t have a Father. Our Father – the government – isn’t here.”

Bong Dampat, a mother and a Mindere villager, said:

“We fear for our children’s future. It’s going to be a long time. When waste dumped here, unborn children could be affected. The government and the company must pay attention. They cannot ignore us. What kind of a future will our children have? They have to pay attention.

“When a mining development contract allowed the Chinese to own and operate the mine, there was no concept of safety or environmental standards.  It was a cowboy operation. You did whatever you wanted and it didn’t matter if you were injured. It seems they came with a set of rules that didn’t comply with the rules of our country.”

“This is not a fight against development. No. That isn’t why we’re campaigning,” said Ramu landowner Michael Kasuk.

“We are fighting to protect and save our environment, our forests, our land, our river systems and our seas because our existence is connected to the land, forests, river systems and the sea,” Mr Kasuk said.

Peter S Kinjap is a freelance journalist, email pekinjap@gmail.com

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Naive Sepik MPs put their trust in lawyers to avert tailings disaster

The mighty Sepik river is under threat from toxic mine tailings

“For the tailings we will make sure we get independent legal experts to inform the government independently that the dam will not collapse under any earthquake or whatever scale of disaster,” Mr Maru said.

Sepik leaders support Frieda River Mine Project

PNG Today | January 19, 2019

Three Sepik leaders have openly thrown their support for the Frieda mine project to proceed.

Yangoru-Saussia MP and National Planning Minister, Richard Maru, Telefomin MP and Defense Minister, Solan Mirism and Ambunti-Dreikiki MP Johnson Wapunai gave their public support in a conference with the media in Port Moresby.

The leaders believe the project will unlock the vast economic potentials in some of the most remote areas in both East and West Sepik provinces:

“We are here to tell the nation, as Sepik leaders, we are right behind this project, and no cheap politics and no one will compromise this interest.

“This project must go on, provided that the environment is not compromised in any way.

“So I say to the developer, we the Sepik leaders will make sure the Sepik River is not compromised, and we’re happy the slurry is coming down by pipeline.

“For the tailings we will make sure we get independent legal experts to inform the government independently that the dam will not collapse under any earthquake or whatever scale of disaster,” Mr Maru said.

Frieda River Project is located in the provinces of West Sepik and East Sepik.

It is one of the biggest copper and gold deposits found in the Asia-Pacific region.

The mine is jointly owned by PanAust (80%) and Highlands Pacific (20%).

PanAust acquired the majority stake earlier held by Glencore in August 2014, becoming operator of the mine.

The acquisition agreement was made in October 2013.

The mine will be developed as an open cut operation.

Based on the pre-feasibility study completed in October 2010, the mine was expected to produce 246,000t of copper and 379,000 ounces (oz) of gold annually.

The estimated mine lifespan was more than 20 years.

A due diligence evaluation held by PanAust and Highlands Pacific however estimated average annual production of 125,000t of copper and 200,000oz of gold in concentrate assuming a processing rate of 30 million tonnes per annum.

Six main deposits, namely Horse, Ivaal, Truki, Nena, Koki and Ekwai, have been identified at the Frieda River copper and gold mine.

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