Tag Archives: Frieda river mine

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

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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.’

Ownership

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.’

Design

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.

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Highlands Pacific slashes costs and dumps MD John Gooding

ACT NOW! outside the Highlands Pacific office in Brisbane

Junior mining company Highlands Pacific has announced it is slashing costs and dumping its Managing Director, John Gooding, and two other senior executives. The remaining Directors and senior executives will be taking a 20% pay cut.

Highlands Pacific is the company responsible for the Ramu nickel mine, with its marine tailings dumping, and retains a small stake in the operation which is now owned by the Chinese State. The mine has been closed for several months following a fatal accident.

Highlands Pacific is also a junior partner in the proposed Frieda river mine, also owned by Chinese State interests.

In a statement released last week, the Highlands Pacific board said there was no prospect of commercial operations at Frieda river until at least 2024 and therefore the Board had “to make substantial changes to significantly reduce the Company’s future cost base”.

The statement says the announced staff changes will save the company $1.75 million a year.

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

The Frieda river will be polluted, destroying the region’s rainforests and Sepik River’s swamps and staple sago trees downstream

The Frieda river will be polluted, destroying the region’s rainforests and Sepik River’s swamps and staple sago trees downstream

Dr. Glen Barry | EcoInternet | JULY 4, 2016

The Chinese government’s massive open-pit mine in the rainy Papua New Guinea highlands, with its tons of toxic tailings full of sulphides and heavy metals, is to be poised above the Sepik River and its primary rainforests, intact local cultures, and the South Pacific Ocean. Apparently Papua New Guinea’s urban elites have learned little from decades of foreign industrial mining (and logging) causing conflict and despair, environmental damage, and social and economic decline.

“From a biological perspective I can hardly think of a worse place for a copper mine,” Professor Tim Flannery

“Dispela kain giaman divelopmen long ples mas pinis o bihaintaim bai had long ol papa graun karim kaiki long ples (This false development must end or it will be hard for local peoples to feed themselves in the future)” – Dr. Glen Barry, Mangi Madang

A proposed large-scale copper and gold mine in PNG will irreparably harm the relatively pristine Sepik and Frieda Rivers, and devastate the region’s primary rainforests and indigenous cultures. The Sepik is one of the largest wild river systems left in the Asia Pacific. The Frieda River runs for 100 kilometres from the mine site in the steep, forested highlands before it joins the Sepik which flows another 600 kilometres through a wetland-dotted plain before reaching PNG’s northern coast. Mammal faunas in that area are the richest in all of Australasia, with large tracts of contiguous primary rainforests, and the region is culturally rich as well.

PNG has a troubled history of extreme environmental and social damage from mining, with few economic benefits to locals who bear tremendous environmental and economic burdens thereafter. Both the Bougainville and Ok Tedi mines tremendously damaged whole river systems, as did the Freeport mine in Irian Jaya. The Bougainville mine led to a civil war that killed tens of thousands, and the mine developers Rio Tinto have now abandoned the mine without any restitution for environmental and war crimes. The Sepik region has been heavily logged for decades, with over $USD one billion in timber extracted, leaving local peoples in abject poverty no longer able to subsist. Industrial mining and logging by foreigners have totally failed to provide local benefits, with proceeds flowing to the urban elite, leaving ravaged industrial wastelands where primary rainforests and indigenous forest gardens once stood.

Civil War in Bougainville caused by mining devastated PNG’s indigenous peoples and environment. Now the miners have ran away with the profits, paying no compensation.

Civil War in Bougainville caused by mining devastated PNG’s indigenous peoples and environment. Now the miners have ran away with the profits, paying no compensation.

The scope of the mine continues to expand, threatening to be one of the largest copper and gold mines in the world. There are expected to be several billions of tonnes of waste rock generated in a seismically-active region with very high rainfall. Exposed mineral sulphides become unstable when exposed to air and water forming sulphuric acid, dissolving heavy metals which in high concentrations kill fish and devastate riparian and marine ecosystems.

China-owned PanAust has recently applied for a special mining lease for the large-scale, open pit mine. Frieda River Copper and Gold Project is controlled by an 80:20 joint venture between Chinese-owned company PanAust and Australian Stock Exchange-listed junior Highlands Pacific. PanAust is in turn owned by the Chinese State through Guandong Rising Asset Management – just like MCC and its faltering Ramu nickel mine in Madang, which is leaking profusely.

The company claims the mine will be of “world standard” when they haven’t yet revealed how they will manage the toxic tailings and have not submitted any environmental plan. Once the mine is operating, 4,000 tonne barges will travel up the Sepik River daily. Chinese development in PNG is continually sub-par and shoddy, virtually ensuring major toxic spills in an earthquake prone area containing large intact natural rainforests and a complex hydrology. The proposed Frieda/Sepik rivers mine will leave the special Sepik ecosystem an industrial wasteland. The mine poised above the Sepik must be stopped and never be built.

TAKE ACTION NOW to protect Papua New Guinea’s rainforests and indigenous people!

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Logging exposes Frieda river mine lies

sepik logging

The history of the logging industry in the Sepik region exposes the lies of advocates of the Frieda river mine who say the economic returns will improve local livelihoods.

The Sepik region has been heavily logged by foreign owned companies for more than 30 years.

Since 2000 alone, logs valued at more than K3.75 billion have been exported from the region. But the benefits for ordinary people are nowhere to be seen.

Mineral Resource Authority Managing Director, Philip Samar, claims the Frieda river mine ‘would be the first large-scale resource project in the Sepik Provinces’, conveniently forgetting the 10 or more large-scale logging projects that last year exported timber valued at K258 million.

Samar would have us believe the roads of Wewak and Vanimo will be paved with gold if we allow the Chinese to open their mine – thirty years of logging tell us that is a lie!

Frieda raising standard: MRA
The National aka The Loggers Times |June 29th, 2016

THE Mineral Resources Authority says the formal process for the Frieda River project will become operational and be of world standard.
Frieda River Limited (a PanAust Limited subsidiary) and Highlands Frieda Limited (a Highlands Pacific Limited subsidiary), are the tenement holders for the Frieda River Project in West Sepik.
They last Friday registered with the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) a special mining lease application, along with nine supporting tenement applications. 
MRA managing director Philip Samar said the project would be the first large-scale resource project in the Sepik provinces.
He said the registration of the mining lease was a significant milestone for the companies involved and for the country.
It will be known as tenement SML 9. 
“Once in development, the project will increase national gross domestic product and export earnings and provide a long-term boost to Government revenues,” he said.
“It will also generate benefit streams to landowners and host communities, as well as create employment and business development opportunities during project construction and operation.” 
The pre-production capital cost of the project is estimated at US$3.6 billion (K11 billion) . 
“Following the granting of the lease, a construction period of up to four years is envisaged. Production is expected to commence in the early 2020s.
“The average annual production estimates of metal in concentrate, from the 2.7 billion tonnes of mineralisation, is 175,000 tonnes of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold.
“The initial stage of the mine is expected to be 17 years, with multiple pathways to further expand and extend the initial operation.” 

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Frieda miners play their billion dollar bullshit card

frieda lodges application

Just like Ok Tedi, Porgera and Panguna, Frieda river mine could add billions to GDP – but what does that really mean and haven’t we heard the same bullshit before?

Freida mine to generate billions

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | June 28, 2016

ONE of Papua New Guinea’s major mining projects will generate more than PGK39 billion and increase real income by PGK11.8 billion once it starts.

The Frieda River Project in East Sepik and West Sepik Provinces will generate PNG’s real GDP by a cumulative total to the year 2040 of PGK39 billion and increase real income by PGK11.8 billion.

For the West and East Sepik Provinces, the Project would increase real GDP by a cumulative total of PGK36 billion and increase real income by PGK5.2 billion.

Everyone from the World Bank and the United Nations to the PNG government acknowledge previous large-scale mines in PNG have not delivered better lives for ordinary people and have instead left terrible environmental and social problems. The mines were approved on the basis of the same ‘billion $ bullshits’ we are now hearing once again…

Last week, the Government officially announced Frieda River Limited (a subsidiary of PanAust Limited) and Highlands Frieda Limited (a subsidiary of Highlands Pacific Limited), the tenement holders for the Frieda River Project in East Sepik and West Sepik Provinces, officially registered a Special Mining Lease (SML) application, along with 9 supporting tenement applications, with the MRA, Papua New Guinea’s regulatory authority for mining last week.

Can someone please let Gorethy and the Post Courier know that PanAust is in turn owned by the Chinese State through Guandong Rising Asset Management – just like MCC and its faltering Ramu nickel mine in Madang

PanAust has devoted over 235,000 man-hours and invested US$65 million to advance the Project. This has been achieved with no lost time injuries, an excellent outcome for a Project that is located in a remote area with limited access.

Mineral Resource Authority boss Philip Samar in a statement said last Friday that the commencement of the formal process for the Frieda River Project to become an operational mine of world standard.

How can Philip Samar know the mine will be of “world standard” when they haven’t yet revealed how they will manage the toxic tailings and have not submitted any environmental plan?

“Frieda River Limited (a subsidiary of PanAust Limited) and Highlands Frieda Limited (a subsidiary of Highlands Pacific Limited), the tenement holders for the Frieda River Project in East Sepik and West Sepik Provinces, have today registered a Special Mining Lease (SML) application, along with 9 supporting tenement applications, with the MRA, Papua New Guinea’s regulatory authority for mining”.

“The project will be [will be? oops, sounds like Samar has already determined the outcome of the application?] the first major, large-scale resource project in the Sepik provinces of Sandaun and East Sepik, a least-developed area of Papua New Guinea. Registration of the SML is a significant milestone for the companies involved and for Papua New Guinea, coming at a time of cyclical downturn in the mining sector. The lease will be known as tenement SML 9. This application provides confidence for the future of the mining industry, which has long been the mainstay of PNG’s economy,” he said.

“Once in development, the project will increase national gross domestic product and export earnings and provide a long term boost to government revenues. It will also generate benefit streams to landowners and host communities, as well as create new employment and business development opportunities during project construction and operation”.

Yes Philip, we have heard the same bullshits before, but how will Frieda be any different from Ok Tedi, Porgera, Panguna and all the rest….?

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