Tag Archives: Frieda river mine

Chinese looking to cut costs for Frieda river mine

What will be the costs for the environment and the mighty Sepik river as PanAust looks to “decrease capital expenditure”?

Frieda River upside options explored

PNG Industry News | 16 February 2018 

THE Frieda River copper-gold project in Papua New Guinea’s Sandaun Province represents PanAust’s long-term strategic growth opportunity.

This was said by PanAust managing director Fred Hess when he presented the company’s quarterly report for December 2017 this week.

[PanAust is wholly owned by Chinese State company, Guangdong Rising Assets Management Co. Ltd (GRAM)]

“In 2017, we made strides towards making the project a reality through identifying opportunities to increase the value of the project, decrease capital expenditure, and reduce its overall risk profile. 

“We will continue to evaluate these opportunities in 2018,” Hess said. 

The company says it continues to liaise with PNG authorities on Frieda River following lodgement of a special mining lease (SML) application and environmental impact statement (EIS) with the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) of Papua New Guinea and Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) of PNG, respectively in 2016.

“The overall approval and permitting process for the SML application and other permits and approvals is now being coordinated by a government appointed state negotiating team, chaired by the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management.

PanAust says it is investigating opportunities to increase the value of the project and access alternative development pathways to decrease capital expenditure and reduce the overall Project risk profile. Study work to investigate these opportunities continued throughout the quarter, and indicate several potential pathways for value enhancement. The outcomes of this work will inform a decision as to whether an update to the project’s SML application will be made.

Hess added: “Looking to the year ahead, PanAust will look to further strengthen the relationships that have become integral to the company’s success, and are synonymous with how it conducts itself where ever it operates.

“The common currency of PanAust’s success is the strength of its relationships; relationships with our employees, communities, host governments, suppliers, peers, and partners. These relationships depend on trust and consistent transparent communication. This is what pushes PanAust way ahead and will continue to do so throughout 2018,” Hess said.

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Mine tailings dam failures major cause of environmental disasters: report

Mining companies in PNG have an appalling record when it comes to tailings management.

Will the proposed Frieda river mine be the next disaster in waiting?

Zoe Sullivan | Mongabay | 19 December 2017

  • Between 2008-2017 it’s estimated that more than 340 people died, communities have been ravaged, property ruined, rivers contaminated, fisheries wrecked and drinking water polluted by mining tailings dam collapses. Estimates from the year 2000 put the total number of tailings dams globally at 3,500, though there are likely more that have not been counted.
  • A new United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report states that as mining production escalates globally to provide the minerals and metals required for a variety of industrial needs, including green technologies, it is urgent that nations and companies address tailings dam safety.
  • The UNEP report recommends that mining companies strive for a “zero-failure objective” in regard to tailings dams, superseding economic goals. UNEP also recommends the establishment of a UN environmental stakeholder forum to support stronger international regulations for tailings dams, and the creation of a global database of mine sites and tailings storage facilities to track dam failures.
  • One idea would be to eliminate types of tailings dams that are just too dangerous to be tolerated. For example, mining experts say there is no way to insure against the failure of “wet tailings disposal” dams, like the Samarco dam that failed in 2015 – Brazil’s worst environmental disaster ever. As a result, they recommend storing all future tailings waste via “dry stock disposal.”

The Imperial Metals Mount Polley gold and copper mine tailings dam disaster in British Columbia, Canada, dumped 24 million cubic meters (more than 31 million cubic yards) of mine waste and sludge into neighboring Lake Polley and polluting the Hazeltine Creek watershed. Photo courtesy of the Multinationals Observatory

It’s estimated that more than 340 people have been killed since 2008 in mining tailings dam failures –preventable environmental disasters that also saw the ruination of communities and property, the contamination of rivers, destruction of fisheries, and pollution of drinking water supplies.

Spurred by those calamities, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has issued a report stressing the need for increased tailings dam safety around the globe. Tailings dams store pools of toxic mining waste.

UNEP notes that large quantities of minerals and metals will be required in the near future for a variety of industrial needs, including the development of green technologies that support the UN´s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report offers two key recommendations and a number of policy actions to dramatically reduce tailings dam fatalities and accidents.

The first recommendation: Mining companies should strive for a “zero-failure objective,” superseding economic goals. UNEP cites an expert panel convened in the wake of a major tailings dam failure in British Columbia, Canada, the Mount Polley gold and copper mine, which dumped 24 million cubic meters (more than 31 million cubic yards) of mine waste and sludge into neighboring Lake Polley. The panel concluded that “safety attributes should be evaluated separately from economic considerations, and cost should not be the determining factor.”

The second key UNEP recommendation: Establish a UN environmental stakeholder forum to support stronger international regulations for tailings dams.

Payal Sampat of Earthworks, a US-based NGO, notes: 

“Mine waste storage facilities are like ticking time bombs, putting communities and waterways in harm’s way in the event of catastrophic failure.”

Aftermath of the Samarco tailings dam failure that sent a wall of toxic mud into the village of Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, killing 19 people and contaminating more than 500 miles of the Doce River. The UN report says that many such disasters are preventable if Mining companies strived for a “zero-failure objective,” superseding economic goals. Photo by Romerito Pontes licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

A record of disaster

The UNEP report was prompted by multiple serious accidents occurring around the world over the past decade. It points to China and Canada as the two countries with the worst recent safety record. Canada has had seven accidents since 2011, while China has had eight. Chile registered five separate tailings dam failures in 2010, according to the report, while the U.S. saw five tailings dam accidents over the past decade.

Other countries have experienced disasters and grief. In Minas Gerais state, Brazil, on November 5, 2015, the Fundão dam collapsed releasing 50 million tons of toxic iron tailings into the Doce River – the nation’s worst environmental disaster ever. The dam held back waste from the Germano mine run by Samarco, a joint venture of BHP Biliton and Vale, two of the world´s largest mining firms. Nineteen people died when the slurry engulfed the town of Bento Rodrigues. Survivors fled for their lives to high ground and were left homeless. More than 500 miles of the river was contaminated, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Ugo LaPointe of Mining Watch Canada told DeSmog Canada that these major disasters represent just a portion of the problem: “This is just a glimpse of what we know. A lot of the data is missing. We need an international database of mining spills and mining failures. If you don’t collect that solid data, you are not in the best position to correct the problems.”

Along with increased international regulation of tailings dams, UNEP’s Safety is No Accident report also calls for the establishment of a first-of-its-kind global database of mine sites and tailings storage facilities to facilitate the tracking of dam failures. Research cited from the year 2000, estimates that there are 3,500 tailings dams around the globe, though that figure is likely low considering that there are around 30,000 industrial mines planet-wide. No one knows how many tailings dams there may be, or their current condition.

The UNEP report also calls for financial securities firms to give mining companies an economic incentive to prioritize safety. Suggestions include a global insurance pool, mandatory financial securities for the life of every mine, and a global financial assurance system for mine sites.

La Tortolas tailings dam high in the Andes Mountains of Chile. The dam was built in a seismically active area, but is designed to resist earthquakes. Photo by Lodecop licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Views within the industry

Canada’s mining industry plays a significant and influential role internationally, with 30 Canadian mining companies operating in Brazil, for example. Further, Canadian mining firms were given advance notice earlier this year about the Brazilian government’s plans to open up a vast region in the Amazon to mineral extraction. Canada’s mining sector contributed $56 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product in 2015.

The Mining Association of Canada told DeSmog Canada it would soon be releasing a revised Tailings Guide informed by mine reviews conducted by an independent task force it had assembled.

A spokesperson for the U.S. National Mining Association (NMA) told Mongabay via email that the UNEP report’s recommendations don’t apply to the United States, “where mining is heavily regulated for any releases to the environment and where the only event of this type in recent years was caused not by miners but by a faulty EPA operation in an old legacy mine [Gold King] in Colorado.”

However, a Bureau of Reclamation audit of that spill found that the circumstances “are not isolated or unique, and in fact are surprisingly prevalent” in the United States. The audit also reported that the release was the culmination of events over several decades including an “inadequately designed closure of the mine portal” and misinterpretation of the groundwater conditions when it was reopened in 2014/2015.

Asked whether the NMA plays any role in monitoring U.S.-based companies’ international operations, the spokesperson said that the NMA doesn’t regulate mining operations.

LaPointe emphasized that: “The problem is that the industry is not yet acknowledging publicly that there are too many financially risky, marginal mines that are being permitted.” He maintained that marginally profitable companies and mines are a major part of the problem because they cut corners on safety and don’t have the money to guarantee the safety of people and the environment.

Dry bed of the tailings dam at the Brukunga Pyrite Mine east of Adelaide in the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. The mine was closed in 1972 and this photo comes from 1992. In 1974, a severe storm resulted in the retention ponds overflowing into nearby Dawesley Creek with water quality impacts occurring downstream. Tailings dams continue to be environmental hazards long after mine closures. Photo courtesy of CSIRO ScienceImage licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

“Reducing the number of dams that can fail”

Suzanne Greene, a communications officer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Metals and Minerals for the Environment group, told Mongabay that a “key element of dam safety is reducing the amount of waste produced by the mine. MIT has a number of technologies under development that will help achieve this, such as low or no-waste extraction and separation.” Greene also pointed to new technologies, such as sensors that can be embedded in dam walls, to monitor and detect cracks or bulges in these structures in real time.

As importantly, some types of dams may need to be abandoned all together. Speaking with Mongabay by phone, Earthworks’ Alan Septoff explained that there are “financial assurances that are intended to do reclamation after a mine completes operations, and financial assurances for when something goes wrong.” But in the case of a disaster as extreme as Brazil’s Fundão disaster, Septoff cited research by Chambers and Bowker which concluded that “it’s essentially impossible for a company to get insurance for this severity.” And logically, if companies can’t get insurance for a particular type of operation because it is too risky, that type of operation will be eliminated, preventing future disasters, and promoting safer methods.

As an example, Septoff points to Canada’s Mount Polley rupture and to the conclusions the review panel produced: “The independent review panel, which was peopled with mining engineers working for industry, said there was no way to insure against ‘wet tailings disposal’ like the kind that failed at Samarco [in Brazil] and that all future tailings storage need to be ‘dry stock.’”

The Mount Polley report added: “The Panel firmly rejects any notion that business as usual can continue.” And also that “The Panel does not accept the concept of a ‘tolerable failure rate’ for tailings dams.” Rejecting the idea of slow incremental change within the industry, the panel concluded: “dam failures are reduced by reducing the number of dams that can fail.”

For Septoff, this conclusion contrasts with most industry rhetoric: “Industry is trying to give the perception that this problem is going to go away, and so people should keep investing, but if the true cost of this type of disposal is made known, then the prospects for responsible investors investing in them will go considerably down.”

A mining tailings dam in the Balkans. Estimates from the year 2000 put the total number of tailings dams globally at 3,500, though there are likely more that have not been counted. With mining operations fast expanding around the globe, more accidents are likely unless action is taken to safeguard tailings dams. Photo courtesy of WWF

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Pundari discusses impact of Frieda mine

Sssh – don’t mention the Chinese!

Funny how the media can report so many ‘facts’ about the proposed Frieda river mine, including, supposedly its ownership, but leave out the fact that it is the Chinese State owned Guangdong Rising Assets Management Co. Ltd (GRAM) that owns PanAust, the company developing the mine…

The National aka The Loggers Times | December 21, 2017

THE Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) has received a notification of intention by PanAust to develop the Frieda gold mine as required under the Environment Act 2000.

As part of the process to obtain an Environment Permit to develop the mine, the company has met the initial requirements of the legal process by submitting to the Director for Environment an Environment Inception Report.

Information CEPA has to date on the proposed gold mine is contained in the Environment inception Report.

Based on the EIR the following information is known by CEPA:

Copper mineralisation was first identified at Freida River in 1966/67, with the first exploration permit (termed a Prospecting Authority) held by Mount Isa Mines Ltd.
Since that time, the area has had a long history of exploration activities undertaken by numerous companies, with exploration permits held from 1967 to the present day.
The project is located within the Sepik River catchment and would comprise development of the Horse-Ivaal-Trukai, Ekwai and Koki (HITEK) copper-gold deposit in Telefomin district, West Sepik.
The project lies some 200km south of the northern coastline of mainland PNG and 75km east of the border with the West Papuan province of Indonesia.
The project would be developed by FRL, a company owned by copper and gold producer PanAust Limited on behalf of the joint venture between FRL and Highlands Frieda Limited (HFL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Highlands Pacific Limited (HPL).
These deposits contain significant gold and copper with an estimated mine life of 17 years.
The main activities associated with the development of the project would include:

  • A sire access road from the Sepik River to the mine site;
  • mining will be done via an open pit mine;
  • placing waste rock and tailings into an integrated storage facility;
  • processing ore in a conventional concentrator at a site adjacent to the open pit;
  • copper-gold concentrate transportation by pipeline to a Sepik River port then barging along the Sepik River and northern coast of PNG to the proposed concentrate export facility located at Cape Moem near Wewak;
  • power generation during operations using an intermediate fuel oil (IFO) power station then augmented by a hydroelectric power station;
  • an airport constructed at Kaugumi Creek to transport personnel to and from the site;
  • the viability of the Project reflects a combination of economic, engineering environmental and social consideration that have been assessed and presented in FRL’s proposal for development; and,
  • The proponent for the project is FRL as manager of the Freida River Joint Venture and on behalf of joint venture participants FRL and HFL.
  • The participants and their equity in the project are: PanAust Ltd (80 per cent), Highlands Freida Limited (20 per cent).

Pan Aust Limited is a copper and gold producer in Southeast Asia and has a portfolio of organic growth projects in Laos and Chile.

Processing method
The mine processing method will involve conventional crushing grinding and flotation circuit.
Mine tailings and waste rock will be contained within an engineered Integrated Storage Facility (ISF).
The mine will also have quarries to provide materials for the construction of dams, roads, water diversion bunds, infrastructure pads and the construction of the ISF embankment.

Power supply
During the construction phase, power generation will be provided by diesel generators.
Following construction phase and during operations, a portion of the power will be supported by hydroelectric power.

Raw water requirement & supply
The Nena River will supply all raw water requirements for the mine.

Main access road
A main access road will connect the Sepik River port, Kaugumi Creek airport, Freida River airstrip, IFO power station, ISF, process plant, mine infrastructure area and accommodation camps.

River ports
Construction: Freida River port and Sepik River port will accommodate transport of construction materials to the mine site.
The Wario River port, adjacent to Nekiel, will provide access for construction of the main access roads.
Operations: The Sepik River port will be used for import of equipment and consumables and export of concentrate. A tugboat refuelling facility will be located at Pagwi and a mooring point will be located upstream of Yambon Gate.

Logistics
Mine equipment and consumable will be received at the Port of Wewak where it will be transferred to barges, transported to the Sepik River and then trucked to site. Concentrate will be transported in barges along the Sepik River and the Bismark coast to a new concentrate export facility at Cape Moem.
Accommodation construction: Main (mine camp) – accommodation for 1500 personnel and various other accommodation facilities at different locations.
Construction: Peak construction workforce of 3720 personnel.
Operations: About 2000 personnel with a further 1000 ISF contractors in Years 1 to 9 ongoing construction campaigns for the ISF.

Main airport
Existing Freida River airstrip to start followed by a new airport to be constructed at Kaugumi Creek.

Tailings management
Integrated Storage Facility (ISF) will be constructed in the lower Nena River catchment about 4.5km upstream of its confluence with the Ok Binai.
Along with the large open-pit void, it will be the most prominent feature of the mine.
The primary design objective of the ISF is to safely store tailings and waste produced by the mining and milling operation.
This design has been subject to international expert peer review by Pan Aust’s ITGRP, which has been established to access the adequacy of the design of the ISF and the underlying studies informing this design, and to provide recommendations on additional studies or evaluations to address areas of uncertainty.

Environment regulatory process
The environment regulatory requirements for satisfying the environment impact assessment process as contained in the Environment Act 2000 is as follows:

  • Submission of EIR;
  • approval of EIR;
  • conduct of environment impact assessment;
  • submission of EIS;
  • stakeholder consultation on EIS;
  • preparation of submission to Environment Council;
  • Environment Council recommendation to Minister;
  • minister’s approval-in-principle; and,
  • Director of Environment issues Environment Permit.

The above process can take up nine months to complete and is also dependent on adequacy to technical information submitted.
CEPA will also conduct its independent peer review on critical aspects of the project submissions will then be presented to the Environment Council for deliberation and recommendation to the minister to issue an AIP.

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Senior MRA official wants landowner’s rights cut

MRA executive calls for better protection of mining tenements in Papua New Guinea

David James | Business Advantage | 6 December 2017

The next decade could be a ‘golden’ one for the mining sector, believes Roger Gunson, Executive Manager, Regulatory Operations at the Mineral Resources Authority. But he has called for changes to Papua New Guinea’s government policy to better protect mining tenements.

Gunson told the Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Conference in Port Moresby last week that there is a ‘worrying new trend’ in relationships with landowners.

‘I am now getting letters, and the Minister is getting letters, giving us seven days to do something,’ he said.

Gunson said landowners, once they have created an incorporated entity, are routinely asserting ‘a lot of misplaced rights’. He said there is also a lot of ‘forum shopping’ as potential litigants look for the best jurisdictions to get a result.

He said there may be a need for legislation similar to the Protection of Transport Infrastructure Act‘which recognises tenements as assets of national interest’.

‘This is the greatest challenge for the government over the next few years.’

Gunson said what is required is a policy ‘that does not hobble investment in the sector. If the settings are right, he believed ‘the decade from 2020 is going to be a very golden one’.

He also noted the foreign exchange ‘crisis is having an effect on the exploration sector’.

Revenues

Gunson cited Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) estimates of revenues from the mining sector. As of October 2017, K11 billion had been generated. He said the estimate for 2018 is K13.5 billion.

He said this year 69 per cent of the revenues have come from gold, 18.7 per cent from copper, 7.5 per cent from nickel, 3.7 per cent from cobalt and 1.1 per cent from silver.

‘The key problem in PNG is that reliance on gold,’ he commented.

Exploration activity

Gunson said tenement activity has been dropping, but the fall in exploration licence applications has ‘plateaued out’. The MRA, he said, has been active in cleaning out tenements that are not active.

There is growing interest in new metals. ‘Cobalt is hot at the moment, but lithium is going through the roof.’

Gunson said the Ramu Nickel mine is a ‘good benchmark’ for nickel and cobalt, but he noted that the Wowo Gap and Mambara nickel projects have ‘far bigger resources’.

Approvals

Gunson said he is expecting a Frieda River proposal to be approved by the third quarter of next year and for similar progress on the Wafi-Golpu mine after ‘further feasibility work’.

Other areas of interest are bauxite mining on Manus Island and the Yandera copper exploration project.

Johnson Tuke, the Minister for Mining, told last week’s mining conference that there is increasing diversification of the mineral sector in PNG. He pointed to magnesium, chromite and limestone as areas of interest.

‘Mining may be the brightest star which continues to underpin the economy, as it has done since independence,’ he said.

Tuke said a review of the MRA is ‘now before parliament’.

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Mining Minister Tuke meets Einstein’s definition of insanity

Panguna, Porgera, Ok Tedi, Tolukuma all tell the same story – large-scale mining is a disaster for local communities and the environment.

And neither Frieda or Wafi-Golpu have yet come up with a credible plan for managing their toxic tailings – but heck, lets go ahead anyway… 

Govt adamant to get two new mines operating: Tuke

The National aka The Loggers Times | November 22, 2017

THE Government is adamant to get two new mines operating in this term of Parliament, Mining Minister Johnson Tuke, pictured, says.
Tuke, who is also the Kainantu MP said in Lae after returning from a familiarisation visit to the Hidden Valley mine and Wafi-Golpu exploration site in Bulolo, Morobe.
Tuke earlier visited the Porgera gold mine, K92 mine, Frieda River exploration site and the Ramu nickel mine.
He said under the O’Neill-Abel government’s 100-day plan, ministers holding economic portfolios were tasked to ensure their respective departments aligned their operations towards producing revenue for the Government and bail the country out from economic down turn.
“This government is doing the ground work to have at least two mines operating,” Tuke said.
“This government is fully committed.
“In this term of Parliament we will initiate something.
“The developers and landowners are also serious in having the mines off the ground.”
Tuke said the companies doing exploration at the Frieda and Wafi-Golpu sites have already submitted their proposals to dig for minerals. It was for the relevant government agencies to study their proposals and advise the National Executive Council to grant the miners special mining leases.
“Frieda has conducted exploration for the last 40 years or more,” he said.
“Last week, I was at Frieda and talked to the people there. Their response was positive.
“My visit there was to identify issues with the people and the company, so that I can better advice the Government so that it can make well informed decisions.
“That is the case with Wafi too.”

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Mining Minister pre-empts Frieda river mine approval process

The Frieda river mine has yet to go through a proper approval process, the companies involved have yet to agree how they will manage the toxic and dangerous mine tailings or how they will produce enough electricity, but the Mining Minister doesn’t care. He has given government agencies a two-year deadline to get the mine approved and construction started…

Frieda Gold Set For 2019

Post Courier | November 14, 2017

Construction phase for the Frieda mine gold project in West Sepik Province will begin in 2019.
Mining Minister Johnson Tuke Tuke said this during his ministerial visit to the mine last week. The production will start around 2030 or 2040 which the developer PanAust committed to deliver in line with the Government’s 100 days plan.
Mr Tuke said the government has been given two years to go through government agencies like, Conservation & Environment Protection Authority, Mineral Resources Authority, provincial governments and the extractive industry to get the project started.
“There is no issue but I would like both governors to continue with the positive attitude they’ve embraced and get their provincial MPs on board, because inclusive management and political will is crucial to get Frieda off the ground,” he said.
The East Sepik and Sandaun governors have agreed to work together to get this project off the ground.
“All of us have to work together and I’ve assured the people and the developer, give us two years to get all the paperwork done and then we can start on the project,” Mr Tuke said.

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Australian govt using ‘aid’ money to promote their mining industry

Bruce Davis, left, and Fred Hess signing a memorandum of understanding at Frieda River last week. Looking on are East Sepik Province Governor Allan Bird, Ambunti-Drekkir MP Johnson Wapunai, Vice Mines Minister Bari Palme, women’s mentor, Fredah Wantum along with women from Paupe village and PanAust employees

Approval processes for any Frieda river mine have not yet been completed – but the Australian government is already spending ‘aid’ money to help ensure the mine does go ahead.

PANAUST, the beneficiary of this ‘aid’ subsidy, is, of course, an Australian company…

Long-term plan for women at Frieda River

PANAUST and the Australian government are working together to empower women through the Frieda River copper-gold project under a new initiative called the Papua New Guinean Women in Mining Project.

In terms of an agreement signed at Frieda River last week, the partners say a three-year work program will strengthen the participation of women in the development forum process and ensure women receive lasting benefits over the life of the mine and beyond.

“The project will provide a mentor to work with women from the Frieda River area to prepare them for participation in the development forum and help organise their governance and representative structures. Selected Frieda River employees will become women’s empowerment and safety champions,” PanAust said.

The partners will also work to build literacy skills, and promote cooperative approaches to decision-making, workloads and budgeting, leadership and coalition building.

At the signing PanAust managing director Fred Hess emphasised the role mining could play in supporting women.

“Mining, perhaps more than any other industry, has the ability to empower women in remote communities. At PanAust, we consider it our responsibility to encourage that development. At our operations in Laos, we have provided pathways for women to acquire trades, become leaders in the company and start small businesses. Our partnership with the Australian government will help us emulate this success in Papua New Guinea,” Hess said.

Australian high commissioner Bruce Davis said Australia was taking part to strengthen women’s participation in resource development negotiations.

“We will help build literacy and financial skills, as well as support women to take on leadership and decision-making roles in the development negotiations, to ensure they directly benefit from mining activities in the region,” Davis said.

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