Tag Archives: Human rights

Mining Policies Need To Be Reviewed: Minister

Minister For Mining Johnson Tuke Says The Policies Governing The Mining Sector In Papua New Guinea Need To Be Revisited.

Matthew Vari | Post Courier | February 22, 2018

Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke says the policies governing the mining sector in Papua New Guinea need to be revisited.

He said much of the legislations governing the sector are still from the colonial era.

Mr Tuke said with the strong support from Prime Minister O’Neill and government caucus he is determined to take stock of benefits to landowners that make changes for the country to have a greater share in its own wealth.

“I think all our mining policies are more or less colonial. Are we still in the colonial times? We are moving forward,” Mr Tuke said.

“Leaders like Sir Julius Chan have all learnt their mistakes, and are telling me to move forward. The decisions conducted then were suitable for that time. This time has different underpinning. We have take heed of it and move ahead.”

Mr Tuke said he plans for all new mines to provide community obligation concessions.

“We have been for far too long reaped. This is high time; there will never be another time. It needs courage and determination. This government is determined.”

Mr Tuke commended Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for his leadership in ensuring changes do take place for the country’s mining sector.

“There has never been a time any consecutive government has thought so much of its people. I have started off with MRA and I will pursue with mining policy and acts.”

“I am adamant and I will fight vigorously until I pass the mining policy (review). I think 40 years is enough and we are overqualified to develop new policies.”

“I have got to do one or two things, I have to make abnormal decisions that will stimulate many others but affect a few.”

He said with the mining industry a huge contributor to the national purse much of its activities have been done behind the curtain. Something Tuke says he wants to change.

“I want everybody to know the system, the guidelines, the policy and the process, because once it (minerals) is gone, it is gone. You can’t renew that so our people have to know what they (developers) are doing.”

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Ok Tedi workers sacked for peaceful protest

Mine group sacked

Shirley Mauludu | The National aka The Loggers Times | 22 February 2018

THE Ok Tedi Mining Ltd has sacked a group of employees who were staging a protest at the mine site on Tuesday, telling them in a letter that their action was “illegal”.
Some of employees, who arrived on a charter flight yesterday in Port Moresby, claimed there were 191 of them who were issued termination letters on Tuesday. They were told to leave the site on a charter flight yesterday.
Henry Kuso, a spokesman for those who arrived at Jackson Airport, in Port Moresby, yesterday, said the company arranged three charter flights yesterday out of Tabubil in Western.
Mining Minister Johnson Tuke was unable to comment when contacted yesterday.
Ok Tedi managing director Peter Graham could not be reached for comment yesterday. But he had confirmed with The National on Tuesday that the protest had not affected the company operations.
“The industrial action was illegal since it did not follow the grievance process and was not supported by the union,” he said.
“Management is addressing the matter in accordance with company policy and the employee terms and conditions.”
Department of Labour and Industrial Relations Secretary Mary Morola told The National yesterday that the department was yet to be informed of what happened at Ok Tedi.
“All I can advise is that the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations has not been officially informed of the Ok Tedi matter on staff terminations,” she said.
Kuso told The National when the group of sacked workers arrived at Jackson Airport that their sacking was because of the protest on Tuesday.
The protest was to follow up on their demand to:

  • Change to current the 2/1 (two weeks on, one week off) roster for shift workers;
  • Change their current contract; and
  • Renegotiate the industrial agreement.

Kuso said the company had promised when it resumed operation in March 2016 following the drought in 2015 that it would review some of their work conditions and benefits.
“The protest (on Tuesday) was to raise our grievances to the management,” Kuso said.
“It has been two years since the resumption following the drought. Some of the things the company promised to do, it failed to honour.
“We had just a peaceful sit-in protest to get the company to come and have a face-to-face discussion with us.”
He said they had talks on Tuesday with the acting general manager who “never got back to us, not even the human resources division”.
“We sat from 6am to 4pm. We were surprised in the evening when a team from the Asset Protection Department delivered our termination letters.
“Some of us were given the termination at night while they were asleep.
“Their termination letters were shoved under their doors.
“They were advised to leave in the morning (yesterday).”

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East Sepik governor dispatches police to arrest rogue miners

Radio New Zealand | 21 February 2018

The Governor of Papua New Guinea’s East Sepik province has dispatched police to detain a company looking to mine without landowner approval.

Allan Bird, who was elected six months ago, said he was trying to improve the governance around resource extractive projects in his province.

He said his administration was ready to support landowners in any action they would like to take in protecting their traditional tribal land.

“Two days ago we had a ship go up the Sepik river with all kinds of equipment to go and mine a gold mine somewhere up in Angoram, in a place called Keram LLG (Local Level Government area). The landowners came and complained.

“Today I dispatched 15 police officers to actually go there and arrest these people and bring them to Wewak and we can figure out what’s what.”

Mr Bird said he checked with PNG’s Mining Minister about the Keram mining concern who didn’t know anything about it.

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BCL wants to bully Bougainville into reopening Panguna

Has BCL not learnt from history that Bougainvilleans do not like being bullied!

BCL takes Bougainville Govt to court over licence non-renewal

Radio New Zealand | 16 February, 2018

Mining company Bougainville Copper Ltd is taking an arm of the Bougainville government to court.

This came after the autonomous government in the Papua New Guinea region announced late last year a moratorium on mining at Panguna, which had been abandoned in 1989 after the civil war started.

Two companies are vying to re-open Panguna but Bougainville President John Momis said to get the nod, the successful company must first win the trust of the people and BCL is yet to do this.

Meanwhile a mining wardens meeting in central Bougainville in December turned down BCL’s request for its exploration licence to be extended.

But the company is not giving up and secretary Mark Hitchcock says they want the licence restored, hence their application for a judicial review.

“We have taken the regulator , which is the Bougainville Government, as the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources, to court. We are seeking leave to apply for a judicial review of that decision, to not renew the exploration licence.”

The Bougainville government is the main shareholder in Bougainville Copper Ltd, with 36%, after it was given the lion’s share of equity by Rio Tinto when that company walked away from involvement in BCL two years ago.

Mr Hitchcock say the ABG leadership has told him that the company has to do what it has to do to protect the interests of all of its shareholders.

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Court reinstates case of Tolukuma mine spill

Christopher Yowat | The National aka The Loggers Times | February 13, 2018

THE Supreme Court has reinstated a case filed against the Tolukuma Gold Mine Limited over the alleged spillage of sodium cyanide into rivers in Golilala district, Central, 18 years ago.

The case was filed by James Gabe and others in 2006. it claims that more than K1 million in damages from the mining company was dismissed by the National Court in April, 2014. Gabe then applied to the Supreme Court to review the decision by Justice Sir Bernard Sakora.

The three-man Supreme Court bench of judges David Cannings, Ere Kariko and Jeffery Shepherd, granted the orders sought by Gabe – that the dismissal of the case by the National Court on April 9, 2014, be quashed and that the matter be reinstated.

Justice Sir Bernard had dismissed the proceedings after he had been satisfied that Gabe and the other plaintiffs were guilty of an inordinate delay in prosecuting the case and that there had been no proper explanation for it.

Gabe argued that the decision to dismiss the case was made on an “erroneous factual basis”.

Justice Cannings, on behalf of the Supreme Court panel, said:

“We consider, with respect, that if his honour had closely analysed the events that took place in the six-month period between the failed mediation (in April 2013) and the filing of the respondent’s motion for dismissal (in October 2013), his honour would have formed a different view as to the satisfactoriness of the applicant’s explanation for the delay.”

See also: Disgraced judge Bernard Sakora resigns in latest move to avoid justice

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Moratorium on Panguna stays

Bougainville President John Momis

PNG Industry News |  12 February 2018

IT seems that nothing will happen at the Panguna copper-gold mine until after the referendum on independence is held for the island upon which it is situated in Papua New Guinea – Bougainville.

The doors to Bougainville Copper Mines (BCL) and RTG Mining – both anxious to redevelop the mine which has been closed since 1989 – have now been firmly shut by President John Momis.

Momis has told media that the mine would remain closed until after the vote, which is expected to take place on June 15, 2019.

This follows up on a statement issued by Vice President Raymond Masono, who is also Mines Minister, in which he said that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) had completed the legal process under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 in relation to BCL’s application to renew its exploration licence over the Panguna mine area “and conclude that it is untenable under current circumstances for the Panguna project to proceed, resulting in a decision not to grant an extension to BCL’s exploration licence.

“Effectively BCL does not have any more tenement (sic) in Bougainville or any legal right over Panguna mineral resources and the legal ownership of the Panguna resources reverts back to the customary landowners of Panguna and the ABG.

“In making that decision to not grant an extension of terms to BCL’s tenement, the ABG has also made a decision to impose a mining reservation (moratorium) over the Panguna mine area for an indefinite period,” Masono said.

Masono added that the public was invited to comment on the Panguna moratorium and this should be submitted to the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources by close of business on March 26, 2018.

“It is in Bougainville’s best interest that the Panguna resources owners be left alone and be dealt with by the ABG alone regarding any future plans for the Panguna project moving forward when the circumstances are conducive and the moratorium is lifted.

“For BCL or RTG or any other investor to directly deal with the landowners regarding the development of the Panguna project will only result in more division and problems among the people and may affect ABG’s drive for peace and unity leading towards the referendum.

“The ABG will not accept nor be influenced by any speculations regarding its decision on the moratorium and redevelopment  of the Panguna project,” Masono concluded.

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Landowners and companies in new battle for Panguna mine, which triggered Bougainville Crisis

PHOTO: Panguna landowners are arguing about which company should restart mining. (ABC News: Bethanie Harriman)

 Eric Tlozek | ABC News | 10 February 2018

The race to reopen one of the world’s biggest copper mines, Panguna, is dividing landowners and the wider community in Bougainville.

Key points:

  • Local leader Philip Miriori says activity at the Panguna mine would bring “prosperity” and “better infrastructure” to the community
  • Bougainville’s President says the Government is keen to restart the mine to boost its case for independence
  • Not all landowners around the mine are happy with the stalemate, or with RTG’s push to leapfrog former operator BCL

Panguna was abandoned in 1989, after landowner dissatisfaction with the mine led to the Bougainville Crisis, an armed uprising against the Papua New Guinea Government in which 20,000 people died.

Now mining companies are trying to come back, right as Bougainville prepares to vote on whether it should become an independent nation.

Philip Miriori is a local leader who wants mining to resume.

“The Panguna mine must reopen,” he said.

“That is going to bring prosperity. We need to see our kids go to school. We need better hospitals, better infrastructure.”

Mr Miriori leads a group called the Me’ekamui and has been battling through the courts and mediation to become chairman of the landowner association of the mine pit, the SMLOLA (Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association).

“I think unity for the resource owners is important, before anything else,” he said.

“Without the unity, I don’t think we can achieve anything.”

Mr Miriori’s Me’ekamui group has entered into a joint venture with Perth company RTG Mining, which is making a bold bid to reopen Panguna.

PHOTO: Philip Miriori’s Me’ekamui group has entered into a joint venture with RTG mining. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

“What I was interested in with RTG is a social licence [to mine],” Mr Miriori said.

“I don’t want to get anything for myself, I want to see my people benefit.”

But Mr Miriori and other supporters are being paid by RTG, an arrangement the Bougainville Government has criticised.

Mr Miriori said the payments were legitimate salaries, not inducements for people’s support.

“That is always a normal part of anything, nothing is free,” he said.

“The world has changed. People are educated. So there’s no bribery there.”

RTG’s bid and Philip Miriori’s push for leadership of the landowner association has disrupted a sustained effort by the mine’s former operator, Bougainville Copper Limited, or BCL, to return to Panguna.

BCL is part-owned by the Bougainville Government and had an exploration licence and first right of refusal over the site.

But the Bougainville Government has now rejected BCL’s application to extend that licence, and put an indefinite moratorium on any mining at Panguna.

PHOTO: The Panguna mine is one of the world’s biggest copper mines. (AAP Image: Ilya Gridneff)

Bougainville’s President, John Momis, said the issue of mining had become too sensitive.

“A lot of people are against mining, any mining at all, and mostly against BCL, because of its past,” he said.

Landowners at loggerheads as referendum looms

Mr Momis said the Government does not want conflict at the mine to distract from a scheduled referendum next year on whether Bougainville should secede from Papua New Guinea.

He said the Government may have been overly keen to restart the mine, because it wanted the revenue to boost its case for independence.

“Panguna is a very, very difficult issue for all the things that happened in the past,” Mr Momis said.

“So maybe we were pushing things too hard because of our desire to meet our fiscal self-reliance target.”

Not all the landowners around the mine are happy with the stalemate, or with RTG’s push to leapfrog BCL.

Jeffrey Clason’s mother is one of the mine landowners, and he said many people want BCL to resume mining.

“I think the majority of the landowners are still with BCL and I think as the Mining Act says, they’re the last people to say yes or no, it’s their land,” he said.

“So, for the landowners, BCL is still welcome.”

PHOTO: Bougainvillean Bernadine Kama says she does not want mining to restart at Panguna at all. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Some Bougainvilleans, like Bernadine Kama — who comes from a village near the mine, don’t want mining to restart at Panguna at all.

“We’ve already seen the damage and destruction done to our land,” she said.

The Bougainville Government said it will come up with a new strategy for Panguna, and will continue consultation with landowners about whether it should be mined, and who should mine it.

But in the meantime, Bougainville Copper Limited is pursuing court action against the Government, which is not only a major shareholder, but also the mining regulator.

So the battle for Panguna is getting more complicated, right as the region prepares for a contentious referendum on its political future.

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