Tag Archives: Guangdong Rising Assets Management

Communities reject planned Frieda river mine

Ambunti on the the Sepik River

“most of the river communities in Ambunti, Wosera-Gawi and Angoram have responded negatively”

By Clifford Faiparik | The National aka The Loggers Times | 22 October 2018

East Sepik Governor Allan Bird, pictured, says many communities along the Sepik River have expressed concerns about environmental impacts that will be brought about by the Frieda River mine.

Bird said this yesterday in response to reports of a team from the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) carrying out awareness on the mine along the Sepik River.

“Most of the river communities in Ambunti, Wosera-Gawi and Angoram have responded negatively to a team of officers from Mineral Resources Authority who were there to do awareness on the mine,” Bird said.

“Villagers tend to become suspicious of government officers conducting awareness on a project that will affect their environment.

“They are also suspicious that they will not get economic benefits from such impact projects, although the government officers had portrayed a promising economic and social benefits package to them in the awareness.

“MRA officers had been conducting awareness for two weeks amongst villagers along the river about the economic and social benefits from the Frieda mine.”

The mine is at Telefomin in West Sepik.

Meanwhile, the MRA officers said they had encountered some “misunderstandings” while conducting awareness.

“We were advised not to conduct awareness in those villages,” one of the officers said.

“This misunderstanding was created by a non-government organisation that was there earlier on conducting awareness on the mine.”

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Villagers fight with high powered guns over promised Frieda river mine benefits

The Frieda River project is 70kms south of the Sepik River on the border of the Sanduan and East Sepik Provinces of Papua New Guinea some 500kms upriver from the coast.

Clifford Fairparik | The National aka The Loggers Times | October 11, 2018

Fighting has broken out between villagers in East Sepik over customary boundaries to claim benefits from Frieda River mine, says provincial police commander Robert Gesa.

He said villagers from Timbunke and Korogu along the Sepik River fought with high-powered guns after arguing over customary land boundaries when learning that a team from Mineral Resources Authority was conducting awareness about the mine.

Gesa said a police taskforce has been deployed from Wewak was deployed to monitor the fight.

“The fight broke out after MRA officers had conducted awareness along the river communities from Ambunti district down the river to Murik Lakes at the river’s delta,” he said.

“From reports that I had received, fighting between Korogu and Timbunke villages was over the boundaries of their customary land.

“Disputes must have risen over the discussion of the registration of incorporated land groups on customary land.

“Awareness was such that there are benefits of having registered ILGs in order to benefit from spin-off business activities from the Frieda mine when it comes into operations.

“Disputes had risen over the demarcation of customary land when the villagers were using global positioning systems (GPS) to plot out their customary boundaries.

“I think arguments must have broken out over the GPS readings and the traditional knowledge of the land boundaries.

“The taskforce is still there and I have yet to get an updated report from them, but from initial report there have been no casualties.”

The mine is at Telefomin in West Sepik and borders Ambunti.

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Save the Sepik from mining: learning from the past

Visiting the Sepik River and its people. Photo supplied.

Ken Golding | Echo Net | 21 September 2018

The people of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea understand the threat to their lives and culture from the Chinese-owned copper and gold mine that is currently being proposed to be built on the Frieda River, a tributary of the headwaters of the Sepik River.

My partner Raine Sharpe, myself and Keith O’Neill have just returned from the remote Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. We were part of the Northern Rivers Folk Choir that responded to invitations from the people of The Sepik to live with them, share their culture and help alert the world to the threat to their lives from the copper and gold mine being proposed.

Rich culture

We were welcomed into their homes, their daily life and their rich and colourful culture. Sepik people are warm, generous, and intelligent with a great sense of humour. They are renowned for the quality of their artistic cultural expression and live an ecologically aware life described by PNG ABC journalist Sean Dorney as ‘affluent subsistence’.

The Sepik River is 1,200 kilometres long and is the largest uncontaminated freshwater system in the Asia Pacific region. Rising in the Central Highlands it winds its serpentine way through mountains, rainforest and wetlands to the ocean. People have lived on the Sepik for many thousands of years.

Poisoned river

The second-largest river in PNG is the Fly River. In the 1970s Australian mining companies built Ok Tedi, a huge copper and gold mine on the river’s headwaters. This mine became the scene of what is now recognised as the biggest ecological disaster in the world.

Discharging 80 million tonnes of contaminated tailings and mining erosion into the river system each year has caused 1,300 square kilometres of the river to be irrevocably damaged. People of the Fly River now suffer serious health problems with their main sources of food and water subjected to heavy-metal poisoning.

No social licence

I’m drawing the comparison between these two magnificent river systems because the mine proposed by the Chinese-owned Australian mining company PanAust that is preparing to build a gold and copper mine on the Sepik river system is as big, if not bigger than, Ok Tedi mine.

The people of the Sepik fear for their future and their way of life. They know about the damage to the Fly River and its people and are deeply fearful that the Freida mine is another Ok Tedi in the making. So far there has been minimal community consultation and the Sepik people consider the mine does not have a social licence to go ahead.

We have a deep sense of shame that an Australian company recklessly inflicted damage on the Fly River and its people.

The Sepik River is the lifeblood of its people. The children of the village we stayed with are healthy and vibrant. Their delight and laughter melted our hearts.

Professor Tim Flannery says he cannot think of a worse place for a copper mine. Surely we cannot allow an ecological disaster to happen again.

Raise awareness

To raise awareness and funds in support of the people of the Sepik we are holding an evening event Tales of the Sepik River in Mullumbimby on Saturday September 29 at 6.30pm.

If you want to know more about this event email raines@australis.net.

If you want to know more about the people of the Sepik, and the Frieda mine, go to Save the Sepik River and its people on Facebook.

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Australian miners in firing line of PNG law shake-up

The streets of Sydney are paved with Papua New Guinea’s gold

Jewel Topsfield | Sydney Morning Herald | 17 July 2018

Major Australian mining companies face the prospect of higher royalties, tough restrictions on fly-in fly-out workers and the potential nationalisation of assets under reforms under consideration by the cash-strapped Papua New Guinea government.

The proposed law changes have sparked warnings from the country’s peak mining body that they would pose “significant deterrents” to investment in future projects and “threaten the existing operations of current mines”.

Several Australian Securities Exchange listed companies including Newcrest, Highlands Pacific and St Barbara Limited operate mines in Papua New Guinea, which has significant resources including gas, gold, copper, cobalt and nickel.

Mineral exploration in Papua New Guinea

The PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum says the proposed changes to the Mining Act could clamp down on international fly-in fly-out workers, impose a right for the state to compulsorily acquire mining projects (on commercial terms) after 24 years and result in an increase in royalties.

It says some of the proposed changes – which have been under discussion for years – would have “severe negative impacts in the immediate and long term on both existing operations and proposed projects”.

But the Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea claims existing laws are “primitive, unjust and self-harming”, and mining companies continue to reap benefits while keeping the landowners and citizens who own the resources poor.

PNG Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel told Fairfax Media the government was concerned about a number of factors including increasing the share of benefits to landowners.

The Papua New Guinea resource industry is responsible for just 20,000 jobs in nation of over 8 million people.

“Any proposed amendment must address the underlying concerns and keep PNG competitive as an investment destination,” he said.

New copper and gold projects inlcuding the Newcrest-led Wafi-Golpu mine and PanAust’s Frieda River mine are currently awaiting special mining leases from the PNG government.

At an update last month Mr Abel said the PNG government was bringing on Wafi-Golpu, the expansion of a ExxonMobil-operated PNG liquefied natural gas plant and Papua LNG “under an improved fiscal template”.

The Wafi-Golpu project, a joint venture between Newcrest and Harmony Gold, is a key part of Newcrest’s future and is considered the company’s top growth asset.

Newcrest’s Wafi-Golpu joint venture mine in PNG.

Australian company PanAust holds an 80 per cent interest in the Frieda River copper-gold project, which has an estimated initial mine life of 18 years.

PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum executive director Albert Mellam said some of the proposed changes had undermined investor confidence in PNG.

“We are concerned that some of the draft amendments are internationally uncompetitive, are a serious deterrent to investment in future mining projects in PNG and will threaten the existing operations of current mines in the country,” he said.

Dr Mellam said the transitional arrangements were inadequate to protect existing operations and could affect permit applications that already been submitted. He also said businesses would have to wear increased royalties, fees and levies and “unreasonable penalties”.

He said the passing of legislation in February – which removed industry representation on the Mineral Resources Authority Board and doubled the production levy rate from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent – had already created a “great deal of uncertainty in the minerals sector and for international investors watching PNG”.

“The industry has already observed a gradual decline of investment into mineral exploration over the past two years.”

Mr Abel, who is both the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister of PNG, told Fairfax Media the current system had yielded good returns to government from mining projects in the past but a number of circumstances had combined to greatly reduce these flows as a share of government revenue.

These included projects approaching maturation, tax concessions, low prices, PNG LNG and Lihir, the gold mine owned by Newcrest, accessing accelerated depreciation provisions and greater use of the tax credit scheme.

“The state is not necessarily seeking to increase its take but wants earlier returns and smoother flows at lower cost,” Mr Abel said.

The gold processing plant on Lihir Island in PNG. Photo: Reuters

“This may necessitate a tax regime that is more production based rather than profit, has longer depreciation periods, has an element of free carry equity and simpler, more transparent structural arrangements and doing away with tax concessions.”

Mr Abel said PMG also wanted to minimise international fly-in fly-out operations to retain more benefits in Papua New Guinea.

The proposal to reduce maximum mining licenses from 40 to 25 years was “still under consideration”.

Mr Abel said the government was determined to deliver Wafi-Golpu, the PNG LNG expansion and Papua LNG to early works and final investment decision by 2019.

“These and other imminent projects should be based on the current legal framework with negotiated terms to meet some of the requirements I mentioned.”

The Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea said the Mining Act should be reviewed in its entirety, so the ownership of minerals was retained by customary landowners.

“Minerals can still be mined only after development agreements are reached between the landowners and mining companies,” it said in a statement.

“All parties then benefit from a project, in contrast to Papua New Guinea in the past and today, where the landowners are the ultimate losers.”

According to the 2018 PNG economic survey by the Australian National University and University of PNG, the country is experiencing an “urgent economic crisis” and a shortage of foreign exchange is worsening.

The economy is dependent on the resource sector, which makes up 30 per cent of GDP, but much of it is foreign owned and a large share of the benefits flow offshore.

“Since 2015, resources revenue (corporate taxes and dividends from mining and petroleum) have been at their lowest level since 1992,” the economic survey says.

It says accelerated depreciation and tax holidays meant new projects paid no or virtually no resource revenue but it was surprising that even older projects were paying very little revenue.

“On the one hand there are genuine concerns in PNG that the country and landowners haven’t been getting a good deal from resource projects and change is needed,” said Professor Stephen Howes, the director of the Development Policy Centre at ANU.

“On the other hand the economy is in a very precarious state and the government is desperately looking for stimulus from new resource projects. That’s the tension … I think the government is in a difficult position.”

Professor Howes said he did not believe big new projects would go ahead until the uncertainty was resolved.

“They want clarity on these issues because they are long-term investments and these issues are seen as very important.”

Austmine, the leading industry body for the Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector, said current macroeconomic conditions and mining regulations in PNG had proven to be “considerable roadblocks to investment, creating uncertainty and stifling exploration”.

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Banking Giant Standard Chartered Takes Stand Against Mine Waste Dumping

Ditch Ocean Dumping Campaign applauds broad prohibition to protect oceans, rivers and other water bodies

Earthworks | 10 July 2018

Standard Chartered has  announced a full prohibition of financial services for clients practicing marine and riverine mine waste dumping. Standard Chartered adopted their policy shortly after the launch of the Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign, joining Citigroup, which has also confirmed that it will no longer finance submarine mine waste disposal.

“We have long held the view that marine or riverine tailings disposal is not good industry practice, and we are proud to add it to our prohibited activities list,” said Amit Puri, Managing Director and Global Head of Environmental and Social Risk Management at Standard Chartered.

“We applaud Standard Chartered for taking a leadership role in ending ocean mine waste dumping. It’s dirty, unnecessary and wrong,” said Ellen Moore of Earthworks, a nonprofit organization which is coordinating the campaign.

“Banks and financial institutions must actively take steps to ensure that they are not bankrolling the destruction of our oceans. I hope other banks follow the example set by Standard Chartered and Citigroup.”

The Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign, which includes 40 groups in 17 countries, is calling on financial institutions to divest from any project or company that employs aqueous tailings disposal.

Mining companies dump 220 million tonnes of mine waste directly into oceans, rivers and lakes every year:  more waste than the United States puts into its landfills. While the outdated practice has been phased out in many parts of the world, new mining proposals in Papua New Guinea and Norway signal ocean mine waste dumping is being ramped up, not phased out.

By drawing a clear line in the sand against aqueous mine waste dumping, Citi and Standard Chartered are joining a growing movement of governments, companies, mine-impacted communities, and civil society organizations calling for an end to the practice.

At the 2016 conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 51 of the 53 participating countries voted in favor of an international ban on ocean mine waste dumping and to develop a plan to stop ongoing dumping due to the irreparable destruction and degradation of marine environments.

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Time PNG govt exercised better control over its own resources

A Britten Norman Islander, the first plane to land at Frieda River in 1970. Kiap John Pasquarelli had discovered gold and copper in 1963. Now, 55 years later, the mine is still undeveloped and the object of great controversy

Gabriel Ramoi | PNG Attitude | 12 June 2018

Resources firm Pan Aust (wholly owned by the Chinese state company, Guangdong Rising Assets Management, GRAM), has lost its way with the Frieda River copper-gold project in Papua New Guinea’s Sandaun Province.

It is now time for the PNG government to exercise leadership and rein in control over the Frieda asset if the PNG is to sustain its free education and health policies and lift the rest of the country out of poverty, disease and ignorance.

The view from Frieda is now very different compared with the corporate carnage of 2013 following Glencore’s hostile takeover of Xstrata Mining. In that epic battle for world copper supremacy, Mike Davis’s Xstrata lost to Ivan Glasenberg’s Glencore and with it went a chunk of PNG’s national asset, the K260 billion Frieda mine.

Glasenberg has gone on to become the king of copper and head of the number one mining house in the world.

But then, for a deposit of just K80 million, little known Australian miner Pan Aust Ltd moved in and acquired Frieda from Glencore while PNG government advisers and ministers slept on the job despite warnings from industry that the government should exercise control and reclaim ownership over its strategic asset.

Pan Aust went on to the sell out to GRAM in 2015 for a reported K1.2 billion although officially the deal was closed at K450 million.

GRAM is owned by the municipality of the city of Guangzhau in southern China, although the deal maker in this transaction was a leading Australian Chinese billionaire Dr Chau Chak Wing, the subject of a current controversy because of allegations that he is an agent of the Chinese Communist Party.

Additionally, the influential South China Morning Post reported in September last year that the chairman of GRAM, Li Jinming, as well as the CEO and chief financial officer had been arrested and are facing prosecution in China for failing to account for a number of acquisitions made by GRAM in Australia, including Pan Aust, leading to a loss by GRAM of more than K3.2 billion.

None of these corporate maneuverings went unnoticed by the government of China and eventually Glencore was forced to sell a number of its copper assets to China in order to keep selling its copper ore to the communist country.

I suspect the sale of the Frieda copper mine may have been part of an arrangement between Glencore and the government of China for a number of its assets to be sold to Chinese-controlled companies.

But the question that now needs to be asked in PNG following the arrest of the GRAM directors is what can the PNG government do with Frieda?

Last week, the PNG Mineral Resources Authority reported that Pan Aust had advised it of the withdrawal of an application for the mine development license over Frieda that was filed in 2016.

I suspect the real reason for this is that Pan Aust does not have the required capital to follow through with the development of Frieda Mine since the arrest of the GRAM executives in China and the freeze on GRAM’s activities pending finalisation of court proceedings in China.

Pan Aust and its junior partner Highlands Pacific are already in arbitration over the issue of the costs relating to each partners contribution to the feasibility study.

In the wake of this total mess, an opportunity exists for the PNG government to open dialogue directly with the government of China to revisit the Frieda project.

Already two leading Chinese state companies – China Energy Engineering Ltd and China Railway Yunnan Construction & Development Ltd – have expressed interest in developing the infrastructure associated with the mine.

The PNG government and the provincial governments of West and East Sepik – the ministers of the two provinces in particular – should take the lead in opening dialogue with China on the Frieda project.

How the Frieda project will be developed is part of the unfolding resource war being waged worldwide between private capital (represented by figures such as Glasenberg, Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull) and powerful state actors such as the gvernment of China and other savvy emerging states such as Russia and Indonesia.

The leading US-based mining journal Behre Dolbear reported last week that the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia and Mauritania have recently enacted new legislation apportioning greater revenues from mining in favour of the state to the rejection of Barrick Gold in Tanzania and Glencore in Congo.

Over the last six months we have also seen the rise of resource nationalism in Indonesia with a direct challenge to BHP Billiton and Freeport Copper to divest up to 51% of their interest in the Grasberg mine to the Indonesian state.

At the time of writing, BHP has agreed to sell its 40% stake to the state and current negotiations continue on the quantum of compensation for environmental pollution by Freeport.

While there is a much kneejerk reaction by our neighbours about Chinese checkbook diplomacy in the region, it must be remembered that China is Australia’s number one trading partner.

Despite just 70 years ago China being rolled over by Japan after a long period of being pushed around by colonial powers, it has emerged in recent times as a super power extending its hand of friendship to countries around the world as it builds a new world order with itself at the centre.

“Developing countries where 90% of the world lives are at a crossroad,” says the leading black African woman of our generation, Zambian economist, lawyer and banker Dambisa Moyo. “They are facing a choice between the United States model of democracy and private capitalism or the Chinese model of state capitalism and no democracy.”

This may be too unequivocal as many third world countries including PNG are now better poised to consider bartering our copper, gold and other mineral wealth for infrastructures such as roads, ports, railways, universities and hospitals rather than simply allowing private capital through direct foreign investment.

Our experience over 40 years has been dismal as highlighted by reports such as that by Jubilee Australia. As PNG struggles to build its next generation of mines, the young lawyers and technocrats advising our leaders must take it upon themselves not to repeat the mistakes of the past but to look at recent deals between China and a number of counties in Africa and negotiate a new mining development contract for PNG that we all can be proud of.

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Frieda Mine Lease On Hold

Frieda River mine camp

Frankiy Kapin | Post Courier | May 31, 2018

Frieda mine project developer PanAust Limited has indicated further alterations to its initial proposal for mine development thus holding back the Special Mine Lease (SML) application.

Mines regulator, Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) revealed this week that the assessment of the application had to be put on hold as the applicant has indicated there may be significant changes to the initial proposal for development and feasibility study.

According to MRA, PanAust is considering a range of potential material changes.

These include the relocation of the integrated storage facility to Frieda River from the Nina River, and increasing the hydro potential to over 300 Megawatts.

The project is also considering development of a public road corridor between Vanimo and Hotmin instead of using the Sepik River.

“This is to significantly reduce its activities within the river system.

“The proposed airport may be upgraded to a regional status and there may be consequential changes to tenements. Some relocation of landowners may also be required,” said the MRA.

MRA confirmed that PanAust’s application for a SML for the Frieda project is on hold pending the company’s lodgment to the government indicating amendments to the development proposal.

According to MRA, the tenement holder initially lodged the SML last year in June 2016 but has indicated to the State negotiating team that it may submit an amended proposal for development and feasibility study by October this year.

“Mining Act and Environment Act approvals will be delayed as a result against the original timetable.

“To date, PanAust has yet to submit its amended proposal two,” MRA issued.

MRA further stated that PanAust will also be required to lodge any amended environment impact assessment report to the Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) if the original proposals alter.

East Sepik Governor Allan Bird said as the host province, the provincial government will have a say once all mine development documents are assessed by MRA and submitted to the provincial heads.

The Frieda River project is copper dominated with gold and silver as bi-products and presently the project’s mine life is 17 years with a potential to extend.

Current indications from initial submissions are that the porphyry copper gold deposits contain an estimated total combined mineral resource of over 2.7 billion tones at an average grade of 0.42 per cent copper and 0.23 grams per tonne gold.

From this assessment, the project has a total mineable ore reserve of 608 million tonnes at 0.49 per cent copper and 0.27 grams per tonne gold.

The Frieda River project operator is Frieda River Limited (FRL), a subsidiary of PanAust.

Frieda River Project is located in the provinces of West and East Sepik and jointly owned by PanAust (80 per cent) and Highlands Pacific (20 per cent).

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