Tag Archives: Frieda river mine

Frieda mine must comply with laws: Tekwie


The National aka The Loggers Times | September 6, 2016

FORMER Sandaun Governor John Tekwie says the developers of the Frieda copper-gold project and the provincial government must fulfil obligations, terms and conditions under the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Government Affairs Act.

Project developer PanAust Limited lodged a special mining lease application for the Frieda River copper-gold project with the Mineral Resource Authority.

Managing director Dr Fred Hess said the lodgement of the application was a milestone in the pursuit of organic growth for the company.

Tekwie said apart from stringent legal requirements under the Mining Act for consultations and development forums, there was also the need for consultation and compliance by developers with provincial governments and landowners.

“PanAust must be reminded of its obligation for proper and full consultation with provincial leaders,” Tekwie said.

“Overseas paid junket trips for governors and MPs do nothing meaningful to the many negative realities faced after full operation (such as in the case of Bougainville, Ok Tedi and Ramu Nickel).

“This obligates investor parties and MRA to ensure that full and proper opportunity is given to our province to fully explore, ask, and know, and be included in/with all facts pertaining to the project prior to issuance of any mining lease by the minister.

“No one should ever use our Sandaun people’s non-response as to mean we are not interested.”

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PNG’s biggest ever tailings dam for Frieda river mine

A massive wave of toxic mud swept away the lives of locals living below the mining waste impoundment. Photo: Romerito Pontes

A massive wave of toxic mud swept away the lives of locals in Brazil when a BHP tailings dam failed recently. Photo: Romerito Pontes

Gedion Timothy | The National aka The Loggers Times | September 6, 2016
IT will take 12 months or longer to complete the technical assessments of two mining lease applications for Frieda in East Sepik and Wafi-Golpu in Morobe, according to the Mineral Resource Authority.
Managing director Philip Samar said both mines provided their own development plans.
PanAust Limited, the leader explorer and developer of the multi-billion kina Frieda copper-gold project in West Sepik lodged a special mining lease application for the project with the Mineral Resource Authority in June.
Likewise, the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture lodged an application on August 25 for a similar lease.
The MRA is two months into the technical assessment of the Frieda proposal for development.
The authority has circulated within government the relevant sections on business development, equity and training to the appropriate government agencies for their review. These will then be collated by the MRA for submission to Cabinet for approval.
“The Wafi assessment is through the preliminary stages and should pick up within the next three months,” Samar said.
“It is anticipated that all mining approvals should be ready in the next 12 months. The 12 months (could be more) is the time it will take MRA to complete its technical assessments of the two proposals for the development of both projects.”
He said the MRA would prepare a submission to Cabinet which the Mining Minister would table in Parliament.
“The SML is not granted until and unless the Environment Permit by Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) has been approved.
“Frieda will build Papua New Guinea’s largest land tailings storage facility (tailings dam) to ensure tailings are not disposed into the Sepik River over the life of the mine,” he said.
“This tailings facility will also double up as a hydro dam for purposes of generating electricity for operating the mine.
“The copper concentrate is shipped down the Sepik to Wewak for export to market.”
Wafi is a large long-life underground mine using a similar sized land tailings storage facility with an extensive pipeline infrastructure that delivers the copper concentrate from site to the port of Lae, Samar said.

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Frieda Mine Road Construction a Threat to Upper Sepik Environment

frieda road sepik

William H. Townsend, Ph.D., P.E.

It is clear that constructing the Frieda Mine Access Road from Nikie to Kubkain by way of Yabatawe in East Sepik Province will have major impact on the forest along the road, which runs through several Sanio-Hiyewe communities. By damaging their sago and other food sources, a sustainable food supply will be threatened in this challenging environment.

I lived with the Saniyo-Hiyewe for 20 months in 1966-1967 and shorter periods between 1980 and 1984. One of my activities during this time was mapping ridges, swamp forests, and paths between villages. Another was weighing food and measuring sago stands.

In 1981 through 1984 I served the PNG Government as its technical advisor on the Ok Tedi Mine, reporting to the Secretary of Minerals and Energy and the Secretary of Finance. As a civil engineer, I was responsible to monitor construction of the mine and report on OTML’s progress as it affected local facilities and environmental impact. 

Responding to a Directive from Parliament in 1982, I did an inspection of the Access Road from Kiunga to Tabubil and reported back to Parliament. This inspection revealed that the construction of the road through rain forest was slower and more difficult than anticipated. The side cast method of road construction used there discarded topsoil away from the roadway, pushing it into the adjacent forest.  (See photo.)

If the same construction methods for mine access roads are used on the Frieda Mine that were used in Western Province, runoff will deposit materials that will damage the prime sago areas, which have taken generations to develop, and other food sources. Damage to the fragile forest during construction would take decades to remediate and restore sustainable living to the people of the Upper Sepik tributaries.

While commentators are rightly concerned about the massive damage that occurs from riverine disposal of mine wastes during production or through the failure of poorly constructed tailings dams after mine closure, vigilance is also necessary from the beginning of construction. Environmental damage from construction shortcuts is especially likely during the pre-production and early production phases, before the project returns a profit, as Ok Tedi should have taught us all.

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PM Peter O’Neill: Government will address all mining issues

o'neill in parliament

Jack Lapauve Jnr. | EMTV News | August 9, 2016

PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, told parliament today that the government is at the centre of addressing all mining-related issues.

Mr O’Neill said a formal statement will be released to address grievances by landowners in Hela, and shares in Panguna and Ok Tedi.

“I want to assure the house and our country that one thing is very obvious. We need to look after all our stakeholders. More importantly, the landowners, provincial governments, and of course our citizens and our country. We need to have a greater stake in the industry, and the industry laws today, does not allow us to exercise that option.

“We are looking at this in a very diligent manner. We want to be fair to everybody. Even the investors. Without the investors, some of the large scale mines like Frieda and Wafi cannot be developed. If we take up all the equity, investors will not have any equity to take. But over the course of the next two weeks, I will be making statements in this house, in regards to the shareholding in Ok Tedi and Bougainville, for the first time these two mines are being controlled by Papua New Guineans.

“And of course, in relation to the 4.27 percentage stakeholding by the landowners in the Hela province, and of course, the LNG project.

“I will make a separate statement in this house on it, but Mr Speaker, I want to assure the good member, we will communicate with the industry. The matter was discussed in cabinet this morning, but we have also deferred the discussion till next week, because I want to put a senior ministerial committee to discuss with other stakeholders, some of the concerns. We have to iron out all these concerns before we take this,” Mr O’Neill said.


Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Engineer warns of Frieda river mine impacts

A massive wave of toxic mud swept away the lives of locals living below the mining waste impoundment. Photo: Romerito Pontes

A mine in Brazil recently released a massive wave of toxic mud that swept away the lives of locals living below the site. Photo: Romerito Pontes

Joan Bailey | Post Courier | July 14, 2016

AN engineer from East Sepik Province has warned of massive environmental destruction if the proposed Frieda copper mine goes ahead. Thomsen Benguma said the volume of destruction will be unprecedented.

Mr Benguma has called on the Mineral Resources Authority and the West and East Sepik Provincial Governments to take high level precautions and insist on the developer  to design comprehensive waste management plans. This is to manage the tailings and the overburden or top soil that is dynamited and pushed off the side of the mountain.

Mr Benguma said the management of the tailings is normally captured in the waste management plan but the overburden which is also waste is never taken into account.

He explained that when the top soil is dynamited, unburden sodium mitrite and sodium nitrate is trapped in the soil and when this waste comes into contact with water, paste is formed.

“When this material is carried down by flood during rainy season, there will be heavy deposits in the river system which overtime will fill up the river, thus displacing aquatic life,” he said.

Mr Benguma who is also a waste management engineer by profession said the storage of tailings in high altitudes also poses a threat and suggested that it be put through a gas plasma system where the waste is burned or melted, resulting in the recovery of processions metals contained in the wastes.

He called on the Mineral Resources Authority to take heed and refrain from drawing conclusions that all will be fine and suggested that the developer must sign a memorandum of understanding to fully compensate the people of East Sepik, especially those living along the Sepik River if a environmental disaster occurred.

Related stories:

Frieda river mine will blow a huge hole right through Vision 2050

Mining Threatens Papua New Guinea’s Mighty Sepik River with Utter Ruin


Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Chinese look to win hearts and minds in the Sepik

Frieda River camp. Source: PanAust

Frieda River camp. Source: PanAust

PanAust looks for ‘social licence’ to operate Frieda River mine in Papua New Guinea

David James | Business Advantage | July 12, 2016

Frieda River Ltd, the wholly-owned Papua New Guinea subsidiary of PanAust, has lodged a Special Mining Lease application with PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority to develop the Frieda River Copper-Gold Project. Glen Connell, PanAust’s General Manager, Government and Community Relations, tells Business Advantage PNG that developing a ‘social licence’ to operate is critically important for the success of the project.

With a potentially long term operation, Glen Connell says establishing a sound relationship with the community is fundamental:

‘If you don’t have the social licence to operate you won’t have any longevity whatsoever. I think we have long accepted that and it is something that we have learned in Laos.

‘It put us in good stead in that country, which wasn’t a mature mining investment destination when we went in. The key very much to our success in Laos has been community engagement, good environmental practices, strong safety performance, and looking after our people.

‘Whether it is PNG, or anywhere else in the world, the same philosophy applies.’

‘I guess the trick is to work out how you tailor that to any given situation. Whether it is PNG, or anywhere else in the world, the same philosophy applies.’


The Frieda River Joint Venture is 80 per cent owned by PanAust, which is in turn owned by Guangdong Rising H.K., a subsidiary of the Chinese State Owned Enterprise Guangdong Rising Assets Management Company (GRAM). Highlands Pacific owns the remaining 20 per cent stake. Frieda River Limited is the manager of the JV.

‘PNG is a more mature mining destination with decades of experience.’

PanAust’s Glen Connell (left) and Lebin Ulamtemab in Wameimin Village 1. Source: PanAust

PanAust’s Glen Connell (left) and Lebin Ulamtemab in Wameimin Village 1. Source: PanAust

The PNG government has a right to acquire at cost up to 30 per cent of the project.

The Joint Venture’s recently released feasibility study claimed the potential mine is ‘one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world’, with an initial 17-year mine life.

Connell says there are similarities between Laos and PNG. Both nations are developing countries and in similar socio-economic situations. But he says there are some crucial differences.

‘PNG is a more mature mining destination with decades of experience,’ he says. ‘The legislative frameworks are well developed; the bureaucracy understands mining and is attuned to it.’

Long term outlook

Connell says the company does not focus on short-term fluctuations in metals prices. He says that periods of weaker prices often represent the best times to be advancing and building projects.

‘You need a little bit of tunnel vision.’

‘It is not about what today’s copper or gold prices are and projecting those forward for the next six months. We are looking at a project that could operate for decades.

‘So, we look at what the longer term outlook is and I think with copper it is safe to say that most, if not all, analysts see a good future for copper. If not in the near term then certainly in the medium to longer term. We share that view.’


Connell says falling interest rates in the developed world means a potentially lower cost of capital. ‘But the external environment will do what the external environment does. You design the most robust project you can and you seek to deliver it.

‘We have been in close contact at all levels of government and other stake holders to make sure that we secure the business licence.’

‘You need a little bit of tunnel vision in that regard. At the same time, we have to think about the long term price of oil, or any given commodity, or economic factor that you have to deal with.

‘It all comes down to the robustness of the design, development, implementation and your ability to operate. I think we have ticked the box on each of those in Laos and there is no reason to think we won’t do the same in PNG.’

Now that the application for a Special Mining Lease has been lodged, Connell is not willing to speculate about how long the approval process will take. ‘We have been in close contact at all levels of government and other stake holders to make sure that we secure the business licence to operate as well as the social licence to operate. That process has been positive.

‘But I can’t answer how long it will take. It is not a process that we can control,’ he tells Business Advantage PNG.

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Frieda river mine will blow a huge hole right through Vision 2050

oneill ministers

The PM and his Ministers love to trumpet on about Vision 2050 and how clever we are to have a long-term development plan but have they actually read and understood what it says?

The government says it fully supports the construction of the proposed Frieda river mega-mine [see story below] but seems oblivious to the fact such projects are wholly incompatible with Vision 2050 and the National Goals in our Constitution.

In order to be a “smart, wise, happy and healthy society” Vision 2050 says we need to move away from an economy dominated by the mining and energy sectors and “instead concentrate on the growth in manufacturing, services, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the eco-tourism sector”.

Vision 2050 says having an economy dominated by resource extraction is not healthy and has failed to deliver sustainable development and improved livelihoods for the majority of people. The Vision says we must transition away from the current situation where large-mines and gas projects account for 80% of export revenues to a society in which they represent just 30% of gross domestic product.

To achieve that goal we need to do two things – stop the endless cycle of new mines, cutting back on the exporting of gold and other minerals and hydro-carbons, and put far more resources into other areas of the economy.

New large-scale mines like Frieda will just perpetuate a failed economic model and drive us in completely the opposite direction to Vision 2050.

According to Vision 2050 we need increased indigenous participation in the economy, we need to maintain equality amongst ethnic groups, between genders and between areas; give greater attention to rural and village development; and, above all, become self-reliant.

These are all themes that were espoused by the Constitutional Planning Committee and enshrined in the five National Goals and Directive Principles in the Constitution:

  • Integral Human Development;
  • Equality and Participation;
  • National Sovereignty and Self-Reliance;
  • Natural Resources and Environment; and
  • Papua New Guinean Ways.

These same themes were embraced in Vision 2050 as the key to enhance our socio-economic performance and improve our overall human development ranking.

The Prime Minister, on his own website, says “Our collective efforts will bring Papua New Guinea and its people 5 years closer to Vision 2050” – but supporting projects like the Frieda River mine would make that just one more broken promise.

PanAust gets Govt support
Post Courier | June 30,2016
PANAUST, the developer of the Frieda River Gold project, has been assured of the government’s commitment and support towards mine start up.  Mining Minister Byron Chan said this while congratulating the company on the submission of its Application for the Special Mining Lease (SML) recently.
“The government of PNG stands ready to dialogue and work with PanAust. All relevant government agencies are ready to provide you their services where they are required.” “I call on the West and East Sepik provincial governments, landowners, LLGs, politicians and citizens to embrace the project.
“Work with the company to ensure that this project successfully gets off the ground so that resource owners, provincial governments, national government and its citizens can benefit,” Mr Chan said.
According PANAUST, its average production is 175,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold on an annual basis over a mine life of 17 years. There is great potential to increase the mine life with further project audit, adjustments and exploration programs.
The project is one of the three significant new generation projects that are expected to contribute to the economy of Papua New Guinea. It will increase the national gross domestic product (GDP) and export earnings, provide long term government revenues and contribute to employment opportunities.
The Frieda River project will be the first major large scale resource project in East and West Sepik. This project should be the catalyst to grow other sustainable economies of the Sepik region.
“This is a priority project for the O’Neill Government as it comes on the back of the LNG project,” the minister said.


Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea