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Interview: Emmanuel Peni, Coordinator of Project Sepik, Papua New Guinea

Emmanuel Peni says he has received death threats and been shot at for leading opposition to the Frieda river mine

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre 

Emmanuel Peni is the coordinator of Project Sepik (PS), the organisation of people fighting to stop the mining project called ‘Frieda River Project’ by the Australia-based and Chinese government owned company PanAust. The ‘Frieda River Project’ submitted an application for a mining license – the mine is planned to be developed in the Frieda river area. The mine’s tailings will be dammed and dumped into the Sepik River.

BHRRC: What is your name and what is your role as a business and human rights activist working to protect human rights in Sepik River, Papua New Guinea?

My name is Emmanuel Peni; everyone calls me Manu. I provide support to local leaders along the Sepik River and in Wewak—the voices behind the campaign to stop the mining.

BHRRC: Could you explain what business and human rights issues you are working on in connection with the Frieda River Project?

The Sepik River copper and gold mine is a project of PanAust, a Chinese company registered in Australia. The main issue for us is that we are not informed; we’re denied the facts. We have difficulty understanding the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is a very technical document with significant implications for the human rights of people in the Sepik River area. How can they say we have an informed consent? They can’t.

We just learned that the EIS doesn’t state that they were dumping arsenic into the river. With the new information, people are fearful. To put this in perspective, consider the case of the Chinese mining company, MSG, which mines nickel in Madang. 10 years ago, our communities along the river rose up and said no to the mine. The project went ahead anyway. This year there was a leakage in the deep sea bed waste disposal, and contaminants were discharged into the sea. In October, the provincial governor invited a Swiss company to come in and do independent testing; they said it’s so polluted, people should not eat anything from the sea. One person has died already from eating polluted fish.

After this happened, the PNG Environmental Protection Agency came with their own scientists, did tests and claimed there was no contamination. It was apparent for us then that the central authority is compromised. Nobody is standing up for the people along the coastline in Papua New Guinea. The fact that we cannot trust our own government is making the people become very angry; they’re just about ready to take the law into their own hands.

BHRRC: Why are local communities concerned about mining happening along the Sepik River?

Number one, we’ve looked around at mining in Papua New Guinea and in the world. We have heard, seen and read enough to know that no mining is safe, period. This is even truer again given our location. The Sepik River mine is situated in Zone One and Zone Two of the Ring of Fire. It’s a highly volatile zone. Every day there is movement in the Earth. You simply cannot safely build a mine on Zone One and Zone Two of the Ring of Fire.

Number two, there is land instability in the region, which is problematic. It will not hold a structure, but they’re proposing to build a dam on it—and then within the Ring of Fire on top of that. The area has very high rainfall on top of that again. People are afraid that PanAust will build a very bad dam, it will break, and there will be a big flood. It’s our view that they have been cutting corners.

Many mining companies promise roads, schools, bridges and other infrastructure projects. In the past we didn’t know much, so we said, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ Now communities are saying, wait a minute, that’s not your responsibility. You need to pay tax to the government, and they will give us the schools and the roads and the hospitals. Promising these things is a kind of trickery, a kind of bribery. They know that people need those things and they play on those needs.

Another concern is the legacy of mining at Ok Tedi. BHP, the Australian company, really destroyed that area. We don’t see Ok Tedi as just a Papua New Guinean mining disaster. It’s one of the world’s great mining disasters. The worst part is that, after 30 years, all the heavy metal has now moved from the lower end of the food chain, and now people are now presenting cases of heavy metal poisoning. If this is what the mining industry has done to us already, why would we let it happen again? We are not anti-development, but with this approach they are developing us into extinction.

BHRRC: Please tell us about the company’s public consultation process and any due diligence enquiries by the company that you, or communities, have been involved in.

Our main concerns revolve around consultations. The company talks down to us, like we don’t know anything. They pretend to listen to our concerns and our fears and then just tell us what they want to do. We feel that that kind of consultation they do is very tokenistic.

The preface to the EIS report for the mine is one example of why we have concerns. It says:

Any party reviewing this EIS report should perform its own risk assessment and should not rely on this EIS report’s identification or characterisation of risks… In some instances, Frieda River Limited has relied on data and other information and advice supplied by third party organisations… Except where specifically stated, no independent verification of those sources has been undertaken and where any opinion is expressed in this EIS report it is based on the assumptions and limitations mentioned herein and is an expression of present understanding and opinion only. No warranties or representations can be made as to the origin, validity, accuracy, completeness, currency or reliability of the information… Frieda River Limited does not have any obligation to advise any person if it becomes aware of any inaccuracy in, or omission from, any forecast or to update such forecast.

Why would they even bother releasing a report with a preface like that? It is a report, but it doesn’t mean anything. They don’t want to be legally challenged. A lot of people will not have legal minds. These things will just fly through and then when they come to court cases, this will become the basis for their legal challenge. That’s scary.

There are so many things that are not right. When you put all of this together you can’t talk about informed consent. What’s worse is that when they’ve done this, PanAust claims they have consulted the community and therefore they have consent to mine. We’ve been reminding them that consultation is not consent completely—particularly given their lack of transparency.

BHRRC: What challenges have you faced in your work, how are you seeking to overcome them? What has worked well? What has hindered your ability to achieve your goals?

From 2016 until October 15 of this year, I had four death threats. In 2010, I had two gunshots fired at me in a public place, one hundred metres from a police station. I’m still sort of recovering. The threat of violence hangs over us constantly.

It’s hard to find people that really care and want to do this passionately. You want to be there 24 hours a day, but people have to attend to their families, their communities, making money for their survival. Despite all of that, and on top of the continuing threats of violence, I’ve got really amazing volunteers with Project Sepik who are really present because the Sepik River means so much to them. Project Sepik is really fortunate to have these volunteers. They go out and do the work dealing at times with extreme obstacles—the threat of violence on them especially.

We have collected signatures from just the upper area of the Sepik River—more than 6000. This collective action gives us a voice. Before 2016, before our group had grown, there was no popular resistance to mining. We were not recorded in reports or research, so our needs and interests went unnoticed. What were our questions and concerns? Who knows? Our greatest frustration is with the company knowing that the people already say no. Why do they continue? What part of no means no to them?

You recently visited Australia to engage with the company. Tell us about this and what was achieved.

When I met with officers of PanAust I said, what part of no do you not understand? And I’m not just saying no, now here for me but when I say no, I represent everyone. I’m saying no today, just like people in the Sepik region have been saying no continuously. I asked the people at PanAust, where do you draw the line and say okay, the community response is definitely no? Nobody seemed to have any answer. I don’t know how they could not see it as a human rights violation where we say no and they’re still proceeding.

What positive goals are you trying to achieve in terms of mining operations along the Sepik River?

The volunteers with Project Sepik continue to build awareness and collect signatures for the petition. I think one of the best achievements of Project Sepik has been getting an audience amongst scientists, professionals and development specialists in Port Moresby—people in more of a position to influence attitudes and policy. They have a group and are drafting a position paper. Our position is that we will not participate in further consultations along the Sepik River unless the mining proposals change.

Our new task is to support the people to recover cultural traditions that can be empowering for local communities based on stated and unstated expectations, shared obligations and reciprocity where sharing of wealth, rather than private accumulation, was the emphasis. We’ll be looking to use different cultural strategies to say no and to continue to protect our river.

What needs to happen in your opinion for the human rights and environmental issues that you are working on in the Sepik River to be successfully resolved by PanAust?

The people of Sepik River are not going to meet PanAust halfway. The people are not going to sit and listen quietly to PanAust, while the company tells them what PanAust plans to do. PanAust needs to listen to the people of the Sepik River. If they don’t, the mine will destroy the Sepik River, and it will destroy our lives along with it.

What can be done by those reading this interview; is there any way in which the international community can help?

Australians can put pressure on their government to ask why a government-sponsored company of China is registered in the ASX, why PanAust can operate from Australia to destroy the Sepik River. Operating out of Australia, PanAust will be seen as an Australian company. What does that do for Australia’s reputation? What happens to that ‘Made in Australia’ brand? The destruction of our rivers and our life—made in Australia?

What are your key messages for advocates working on business and human rights issues in the Pacific – what are the key opportunities for bringing about change?

The Pacific, our oceans, the ocean floors, leftover rainforests and fresh systems and ecosystems are one of the last places where the rest of the world is going to in the race for resources. My message to the people of the Pacific is that we should stand together to defend ourselves from this mad rush. We should exercise our voices and act in solidarity, as one, not just for what the problems we face mean to us in our locality, but also for what these problems mean to the Pacific as a whole—for our Pacific families and our Pacific home.

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Saving the Sepik from Frieda mine

Rosa Koian | PNG Attitude | 10 December 2019

A photo posted on Facebook showing dried freshwater fish at Wewak market has sparked a discussion on the future of the Sepik River.

In the river’s headwaters, the Frieda copper and gold mine is pushing ahead with its development plans.

The Sepik is 1,100km long and empties into the Bismarck Sea. The river system’s 430,000 people use the river for food, education, transport, health and culture.

What they want is a truly holistic economic approach to development.

They believe that development must add value, not subtract from the people’s lives. Their river must be protected at all costs.

There was a strong response on Facebook from people wanting to ban the mine, the main argument being that mining will take away the people’s livelihoods.

“Sepik has always been sustaining us,” said Brian Singut. While another comment from Howard Sindana said, “It is our food source and supermarket. Sepik just gives.”

The East and West Sepik provincial governments are preparing to launch their biggest copper and gold mine but the people’s concerns are yet to be heard.

The people have many reasons to save this river, one of the richest, largest and last remaining unspoiled rivers in the Pacific.

In the Sepik river system, humans and nature have happily co-existed to this day.

As one commentator said: “It is a rich cultural and ecological storehouse; rich in stories of how a myriad of species and beings can exist in the same space without competition and hurting each other.”

The art and stories from the Sepik are unique. At the centre of them are the pukpuk and the hausman, depicting so much of the region’s culture and history.

Its strength, its sources of knowledge and wisdom, the artistic expression of the human and spiritual worlds, and always the promise of sustenance long into the future.

Until the present day western influences have intruded but slowly but now fears of fast moving change are real.

In the Sepik wetlands, crocodile farmers have reported earnings of more than K300,000 to their families in 2018.

The Sepik River provides food, game, material for handicrafts – all securing income for these people who know what it is to live at ease with nature.

Environmental groups have documented various flora and fauna and say the Sepik River and its basin is the second richest biodiversity region in Papua New Guinea.

The Upper Sepik is currently on the list to be recognised as a world heritage site.

Other people are concerned about the environment impact statement for the Frieda project.

In this very long document, they say, there is no clear mention of the direct impacts of mining and the appropriate mitigation measures in place if something goes wrong.

And three other large projects have been lumped into the same environment impact statement. The document is currently being reviewed.

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PanAust Meets With Regulatory Agencies In PNG

Artist’s impression of the proposed Sepik Development Project at Frieda River. Credit: PanAust

Post Courier | October 24, 2019

PanAust has successfully met with regulatory agencies in PNG regarding the independent peer review of the Sepik development project’s environmental impact statement (EIS) and dam integrity.

Before that, it has also established the Sepik development project website (www.friedariver.com) as a platform to share project information with all stakeholders. The website hosts fly through videos, factsheets and other project-specific information.

The Sepik development project’s environment impact statement was made publicly available on the project website ahead of the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) statutory awareness campaign, which has started in this month.

According to PanAust executive chairman Dr Qun Yang the company remains committed to working with the government to fulfill its statutory requirements and obtain the necessary permits to progress the project. He said CEPA confirmed independent consultants Hydrobiology will complete the independent peer review of the EIS. Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) will undertake a dam integrity assessment.

“A kick-off meeting was held in the Brisbane office, and a site visit undertaken with CEPA, Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), company representatives and the independent consultants during the quarter.

“The company continues to support its host communities in PNG with ongoing medical and education support,” he said.

Dr Qun said during the September quarter, the PanAust executive management team agreed on strategic objectives that will ensure the company’s continued growth and prosperity. “

Our new strategic direction is anchored around three key pillars,” he said. “First, we will work to sustain the business in the short term through the extension of mine life at our Phu Kham copper-gold and Ban Houayxai gold-silver operations. “Next, we will continue to actively seek out opportunities to acquire high quality operating and near-term development assets in Southeast Asia (preferably Laos) and progress exploration activities in Laos and Myanmar. “Finally, we will look to grow the business in the long term through the advancement of the Sepik Development Project.”

PanAust’s focus for the December quarter will be to deliver outstanding full-year production and cost outcomes, and on defining clear pathways to achieving its strategic objectives.

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Protection of PNG’s Frieda River paramount – East Sepik governor

Frieda River heading north to join the Sepik River. Photo: Facebook – SEPIK Capital, PNG – Wewak Urban Local Level Government

Radio New Zealand | 1 October 2019

Papua New Guinea’s Frieda River cannot be mined unless its protection is guaranteed, the governor of East Sepik province says.

A Chinese-owned company plans to mine copper and gold on Western Province’s Frieda River, which is a tributary of the huge Sepik River system.

Allan Bird has posted on Facebook that while he appreciates the revenue the mine would generate; the bottom line is the safety of the Sepik River.

The National newspaper reported him saying that if safety of the river could not be guaranteed, then mining could not happen.

Mr Bird said the Sepik River is not just a supplier of fish, turtles, prawns, eels and crocodiles but a spiritual icon for his people.

He said the Sepik was one of the last unspoilt rivers in the world and it would be stupid to knowingly destroy the environment in exchange for money.

Mr Bird said the responsibility for the safety of the Sepik River rests with the East Sepik government and the Sepik people and they take that responsibility very seriously.

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Governor speaks on Frieda Mine Situation

I am not confident that CEPA has the capacity or the capability to properly and professionally review the EIS

Allan Bird | via Facebook | 26 September 2019

My position has been consistent from day one. While I appreciate the riches and the proposed business model for the mine, my bottom line is the safety of the Sepik River. If the safety of the river cannot be guaranteed, then we can’t mine until there is technology available that can do this safely.

The Sepik River is not just a supplier of fish, turtles, prawns, eels and crocodiles. It’s a spiritual icon for all of us. My people also came from the river. We can substitute the animals from the river with other proteins but the Sepik is one the of last unspoilt rivers in the world, perhaps the only last remaining unpolluted river. There is no substitute for the Sepik River.

Governments of the past have pursued economic growth at the expense of the environment. We can’t afford to do the same. We have to exercise great responsibility. We live in a world of climate change and massive environmental degradation. We would be stupid to go down the same road and knowingly destroy our environment in exchange for money.

Early this year, I gave a direction that the Special Advisory team that has been in touch with us be activated to work on the EIS to provide independent advice to the Provincial Government. I have waited patiently for the mining desk to do this through the office of the Administrator and I have been following up diligently. Unfortunately, this has not eventuated.

Yesterday I discovered that our mining desk may have compromised their position by certain actions they have taken without informing the PA. The independence of the mining desk has now been brought into question. This won’t do.

This agenda is critical but it seems certain public servants do not appear to place the same level of urgency or exercise wisdom and good judgement on matters that are of serious public importance.

Given the lack of response to our queries from CEPA I am not confident that CEPA has the capacity or the capability to properly and professionally review the EIS. The responsibility for the safety of the Sepik River rests with the ESPG and the Sepik people. It is our responsibility and we take that responsibility very seriously.

Effectively immediately, I have requested the PA to convene our advisory team and there will be a lock up to fully review the EIS. At the end of this process we will give a response to all parties based on our assessment of the EIS. I will be personally taking charge of the team.

It is our wish to portray to all investors, particularly those who are coming for Agriculture and other businesses that ESPG is not anti- business. That we are intelligent and we will discharge all our responsibilities in a manner which is professional and fair and that all businesses will be subject to the same rigorous process when the safety of the environment and the livelihoods of ordinary people might be at risk.

On behalf of the ESPG, can I ask all our people to remain calm during this period. For Frieda Mine to proceed, two approvals are critical, the approval of the WSP Assembly and the ESP Assembly.

I assure all our people the approval from our Assembly will not be done hastily but with prudence and wisdom. We have not reached a stage where we have sufficient evidence to give our approval and that is where the matter remains.

Our silence does not signify approval. It signifies that we understand that we have a responsibility to demonstrate professionalism in the conduct of our work. Since we do not fully understand the EIS, we would be irresponsible to comment on it and make a case one way or the other.

Yupla trustim mi na yupla givim mi displa wok.

Mi askim yupla long belisi na noken wokim stupid blo yumi. Yupla wanbel na larim mipla kisim ol experts long mekim displa wok. Nogat wanpla longlong man, aipas man o yaupas man holim ol displa wok.

Trustim mipla long mekim displa wok. Em tasol mi askim yupla olgeta.

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Frieda landowners want deal to be based on amended law

Map showing the location of the proposed Frieda River mine. Photograph: Jubilee Australia

“We want the project to be the beginning and an example for other future mines in PNG with best benefits for the people of Telefomin and PNG.”

The National aka The Loggers Times | September 23, 2019

FRIEDA River project landowners in Telefomin, West Sepik, want the mine agreement to be based on the amended Mining Act that is yet to be passed by Parliament.

The landowners made the call to the Government, through Telefomin MP and Foresty Minister Solan Mirisim, at Okisai village, Frieda River, on Thursday.

Spokesman Bob Onengim said the landowners wanted the mine to be the first in the country to come under the amended Mining Act.

He said the mine was going to be one of the biggest in Papua New Guinea, the landowners wanted to set a new bench mark for the local mining industry.

Onengim said landowners also wanted the State not to give tax concessions to the companies that would operate and development Frieda River project.

He said giving tax concessions continued to affect the country and the people of Frieda did not want that to be repeated for the Frieda project.

He said that was one way of taking the country back as alluded to by the Prime Minister James Marape. He said after the experiences of other mines like Lihir, Misima, Porgera and Ok Tedi, the state was in a better position to negotiate the best for the landowners and the country.

“We want the Frieda project to be unique and they want the project to be at a different level,” he said.

“We want the project to be the beginning and an example for other future mines in PNG with best benefits for the people of Telefomin and PNG.”

Onengim said one of the issues they needed to address before the mine began operation was to identify the principal landowners and related issues within the special mine lease areas.

He said the landowners wanted to see a Frieda River project awareness programme conducted as well as looking into other issues like a resettlement programme.

He said people also wanted an audience with Mining Minister Johnson Tuke and James Marape to discuss their concerns about the project.

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Australian-based company’s PNG mine could pose big environmental risk

The Sepik river in Papua New Guinea. Serious environmental and social concerns are being raised about a mining project by Australian-based company PanAust. Photograph: Emmanuel Peni

Gold and copper project for Sepik region also has potential to cause social conflict and unrest, report says

Lisa Martin | The Guardian | 15 June 2019 

A gold and copper mine proposed for the Sepik region in Papua New Guinea by an Australian-based company threatens to destroy the health of a major river system, poison fish stocks and cause violent unrest, a report has found.

The Chinese-owned company, PanAust, says the Frieda river project could have a 45-year life span and generate A$12.45bn in tax, royalties and production levies for the PNG government and landholders.

But the report, from research centre Jubilee Australia and Project Sepik, raises serious environmental and social concerns about the mine.

“The lack of information released by the company about its environmental management plans are continuing to cause uncertainty about whether the company’s environmental management plans will be fit for purpose,” it says.

“The potential for this project to lead to damaging social conflict and unrest is real and must be taken seriously.”

Papua New Guinea has a chequered mining history, including an environmental disaster when the BHP Ok Tedi copper mine’s tailings dam failed and the decade-long civil war on Bougainville, which was triggered by the Rio Tinto majority-owned Panguna copper mine and cost an estimated 20,000 lives.

The report notes that one of the PanAust project’s biggest challenges will be building a safe storage facility for the mine’s tailings (waste material left over after separating the valuable mineral from the ore) to prevent acid rock drainage.

That occurs when mine waste is exposed to oxygen and produces sulphuric acid, which dissolves heavy metals such as mercury from nearby rocks, which can then leach into rivers.

The report says the size of the ore body, combined with the relatively low grade of copper in the deposit, means the mine will generate substantial tailings.

Locals protest against the proposed mine project at the Sepik river in Papua New Guinea. Photograph: Project Sepik

“The inaccessibility of the terrain will pose challenges when it comes to finding a large enough site or sites for storage,” it says.

“The extremely high rainfall in the area and the fact that the area is a site of seismic activity add to the risks of a dam collapse. The technical complexity of the feat facing the mining engineers, the extremely large costs involved, and the weather and seismic situation all adds up to a very expensive environmental management problem and one with considerable risks.”

Locals also have concerns about environmental damage from an increase in the number of large vessels operating on the Freida river.

PanAust promised in April it would shortly release an environmental impact statement to nearby villages, but researchers say it has not done so.

In response to to questions from Guardian Australia, the company said PanAust had not received a copy of the Jubilee report and “as such, the company is not in a position to comment on its contents”.

It did however say that PanAust had submitted its plans and an environmental impact statement to PNG regulators and was working with them on its approval.

The report also accused PanAust of a flawed consultation process with indigenous communities downstream from the mine which has created an “atmosphere of animosity and lack of trust” and resulted in acts of sabotage.

“There are reports of official (mainly police) intimidation of anti-mine activists,” the report says.

Map showing the location of the proposed Frieda River mine. Photograph: Jubilee Australia

“In 2017 a youth leader from Oum 2 village led a group of young men to attack a tugboat and pontoon with homemade wire sling shots.”

In October researchers visited 23 nearby villages, where locals repeatedly raised concerns about river and fish health as a result of increased sedimentation from increased tugboat traffic connected with the project.

The Freida river joins the 1,126km Sepik river, which flows across the provinces of West Sepik and East Sepik provinces.

The local economy is built on the sale of sago (starch from a tropical palm stem), fish, freshwater prawn, eels, turtles and crocodile eggs. Crocodiles are also harvested for their skins and teeth. Locals are worried about the mine affecting their food security, the report says.

In a company announcement in December, PanAust characterised the mine project as a “nation building development”.

It has promised 5,000 jobs in construction and 2,100 in mining, and estimates there may be 30,000 more indirect jobs.

“Host communities, especially in rural areas, will benefit from access to improved transport, telecommunications, health, education and government services that will support a higher quality of life and greater social participation,” the company said.

“More broadly, training and employment of Papua New Guineans will provide the skills and capacity to support the nation’s future development and prosperity.”

The company said a final investment decision would be linked to financing and fiscal terms agreed with the PNG government during the approvals phase.

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Academic Urges Govt To Revisit Tax Regime

Post Courier | May 28, 2019

The recent political tussle in PNG has emerged due to inconsistent resource development policies, mainly the disagreements on local fiscal contents associated with the extractive sector, explains an academic.

Senior Lecturer Dr Ken Ail Kaepai of PNG University of Technology said from Lae that PNG needs to critically revise the minerals taxation regimes to develop sound policies and innovative ways of capturing a significant share of the mineral wealth without placing tax burdens on the industry.

“The political tussle between the government and opposition is not new. During the mineral boom periods, Australia had its share of high political turnovers due to arguments over resource rent tax and royalty policies.”

“The idea of national ownership of resources has been People Progress Party’s (PPP) policy platform for maximizing the mineral wealth for PNG.

However, PPP has not pursued it for a policy shift. Currently, the political mindset thinks that equity participation is one way to accommodate national interests com- pared to allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of PNG’s mineral resources,” he said.

He said that the lack of capital for exploration and project developments restrict the national ownership of mining, oil and gas. The State and landowners do not have the equity capital for procuring equity interests in resource projects.

Dr Kaepai explained that given the limitation, the State has agreed to acquire 22.25 per cent interests in the Papua LNG through a deferred payment of the equity capital, which includes the landowner’s 2 per cent interest.

“The State will bear landowner’s financial burden of their equity interest through KPHL. It means that the landowners will be free-riders at the expense of the State and the society at large.”

“Under this arrangement, the dividends will be delayed over more extended periods required for allowing the State to repay the equity capital sourced from external lending institutions or will enable the investor to recoup its equivalent equity capital cost internally using future positive cash flows from the project.”

Dr Keapai said that the deferred payment of the equity capital shifts the financial burden of providing the upfront capital cost of equity to the investor.

The State’s market capitalization of equity participation in minerals, petroleum and LNG is not clear, and landowner equity participation has been problematic,” he stressed.

Dr Kaepai said that the Panguna was the only mine that consistently paid equity dividends until its premature closure in 1988.

“Local equity participation in Porgera and Lihir gold mines have been problematic and unsustainable, while free-carried interest was offered to OK Tedi landowners under exceptional circumstances associated with the riverine tailings disposal system.”

Dr Kaepai said that a former mining minister, the DMPGM and the MRA misled the GoPNG to take the 30 per cent equity in the failed Nautilus Minerals’ under-sea mining development.

“It is a significant loss of public funds that could have been used to develop the deteriorating health and education infrastructures in rural PNG.”

“It appears that the GoPNG provides tax holidays as compensation for equity participation, and at the pretence of attracting foreign direct investment. “This strategy causes a fiscal dissipation where both tax concession and equity participation could lead to wasteful resource extraction.

“The State and landowners need to critically assess the financial viability of equity participation in Papua LNG, Wafi-Golpu and Frieda projects.

This includes the renegotiation of the Porgera gold mine on a case by case basis.

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UPNG students report on Frieda mine awareness

The mighty Sepik river is under threat from mining

The National aka The Loggers Times | April 8, 2019

EAST Sepik students attending the University of Papua New Guinea completed a Frieda mine awareness report last week.

The report is from an awareness campaign against the proposed Frieda mine that was carried out by the UPNG Avisat Students Association comprising of students from Ambunti, Gawi and Angoram in East Sepik.

Association president Dipson Ban said they carried out a two week awareness from Dec 9-21 last year from Iniok, Tunap Hunsten LLG to Avatip, Ambunti LLG of East Sepik.

Ban said they covered villages that were vulnerable to the proposed mine, educating people to understand and to make wise decision to save the Sepik River.

“The awareness campaign was intended for the benefit of everyone in the community and not only Sepik river people.

“Understanding ecosystem for the benefit of food security, sustainability of the culture which is our main identity and protecting our only life.”

The awareness was the initiative of UPNG Avisat Students Association and supported by sponsors including Mariwia Ltd, Hungo Ltd plus contribution from various Sepik communities.

“The final report will be presented to East Sepik government for policy purposes,” Ban said.

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Ambunti earthquake should be a wake up call to Frieda mine proponents

Damage from a February 2018 earthquake near Mendi. The earthquake killed more than 100 people. PHOTO: MELVIN LEVONGO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

5.6-magnitude quake hits 9 km NE of Ambunti, Papua New Guinea — USGS

Xinhua | March 7, 2019

An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale jolted 9 km northeast of Ambunti, Papua New Guinea at 1847 GMT on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter, with a depth of 132.36 km, was initially determined to be at 4.1824 degrees south latitude and 142.9124 degrees east longitude.

The Frieda River mine will be 70kms south of the Sepik River on the border of the Sanduan and East Sepik Provinces and some 500kms upriver from the coast.

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