Tag Archives: Jonathan Paraia

Landowners Want 100 Per Cent Ownership of Porgera Mine

Zombi Kep | Post Courier | August 5, 2019

Majority landowner representatives are calling on Prime Minister James Marape to extend his ‘Take Back PNG’ campaign by taking back the Porgera gold mine from operator Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL).

Acting through the Justice Foundation of Porgera, 18 out of 24 landowner agents who signed the MOA in 1969, are urging the PM to act on his word by taking back Porgera gold mine from Barrick.

In a recent press conference in Port Moresby, chairman of Justice Foundation for Porgera Mr Jonathan Paraia, claiming to speak for the 18 landowner agents, declared their intention to take 100 per cent ownership.

“Enga must own the land which was given to us by God and the 95 per cent that is leaving the country for Canada must stay back in the country,” said Mr Paraia.

“We own all the resources in the country, yet all the resources are leaving the country.”

He said if the profits were retained, a lot of people from Porgera, Enga and PNG as a whole will be employed and there will be surplus of money owing into the country.

“That’s why when the mining lease expires, we are putting our resolution up to government not to renew the agreement.”

He said according to the Mining Act, anything six foot underground belongs to the State and the State should have full ownership of the mine and its profits.

But he claims the ownership had somehow passed onto foreigners. “Over the last 30 years, 95 per cent is owned by Barrick and nothing is coming back to us, even the country is missing out on it,” said Paraia.

“But now as the mining lease is expiring, PNG must own this mine.”

He said that just like the government taking over OK Tedi, they want to take ownership of the Porgera mine to resettle the landowners affected, pay proper compensation, and deliver proper services.

“The government must allow us to take over the mine so that all the damages that were done to Porgera will be fixed by ourselves,” he said.

“The things that Barrick has failed to do today; we want to do ourselves.”

He stressed that the mine will continue to operate just as it is but the ownership needs to change. “All the workers will be intact and all contractors will remain but the ownership must change.”

Former Laigaip Porgera MP Nickson Mangape who is also one of the 18 landowner agents, brushed aside comments made on social media that they are incapable of owning the mine.

“You people kept asking who will take over Porgera gold mine and saying that it’s too complicated on Facebook,” explained Mr Mangape.

“You look at OK Tedi, the government of the day took over. This is the same thing that we want with Porgera.”

He said there is no difference.

“About 33 per cent went to landowners (Ok Tedi) and 67 per cent went to the government, the same will happen with Porgera.

Enough is enough,” he said.

Meantime the National Court in Waigani ruled last week Friday that BNL and Mineral Resources Enga (PJV) will continue mining after the August 16 expiry of the mine’s SML.

Following the ruling, BNL president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow said a total of K20 million in royalties for landowners are withheld as a result of ongoing legacy issues.

Mr Bristow also said the company has funded a lot of training initiatives and to date, the total value of K544 million including donations has provided schools, health services, water, power, bridges and roads in support with the local government to change the lives of the people for the better.

He said the company has also made a commitment following its recent meeting with Prime Minister James Marape that it would invest in the Paiam hospital to get it operational again.

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Federation Backs Ban On Fly-In Fly-Out

Post Courier | July 9, 2019

The Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea has commended Minister for Immigration and Border Security Petrus Thomas on the proposed ban of the controversial fly-in fly-out (FIFO) system of employment by the extractive and other industries.

Federation president Jonathan Paraia said the practice has seen the loss of billions of kina in disposable income and other benefits over many decades to foreign countries.

He claimed that it was first introduced by the Ok Tedi, Porgera and Lihir mines which has not only seen the loss of disposable incomes of the employees but has also denied the project areas of social, economic and infrastructure development which could have improved the life styles of the citizens of those areas and the country.

“The resource owners of this country have persistently complained about the FIFO system to successive governments for decades through media publicities and others but no action was ever taken by any government to ban the system, for reasons only they can explain. It is their deliberate negligence that has seen the loss of billions of kina to the country,” said Paraia.

He said the federation has not yet identified any country in the region that allows foreign employees to work in their countries on a FIFO basis. Instead, the foreign workers are required to live in the countries of employment with their families for the duration of their employment contracts.

“This requirement ensures that the country and its communities in which the foreign employees work bene t from the disposal incomes of those workers.

“For example, some Papua New Guineans work and live in Australia, New Zealand, Cananda, Africa and other countries, but they do not fly in and fly out from Papua New Guinea on a regular basis,” he said.

The federation expects that the proposed policy, if adopted, will see a significant development of quality infrastructure in housing, health, education and commercial facilities, to service non y-in y-out communities of employees who will now live and spend their disposable incomes within the country boosting its economy.

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Landowner Calls For Investigation Into Warden’s Hearing

Government Urged To Intervene.

Yombi Kep | Post Courier | April 17, 2019

A landowner in Porgera is calling for investigation into the Mining Wardens Hearing held at Paiam Sports Oval in Porgera, Enga Province on Tuesday 2nd April 2019.

Landowner and former member for Lagaip-Porgera, Opis Papo is supporting the allegations made by Justice Foundation Chairman Jonathan Paraia that the illegal miners were unduly influenced to support Barrick Niugini Limited’s application to renew their SML and other tenements.

Mr Papo made the call after reading a report in Post Courier on the 15th of April 2019 at page 25 titled “Barrick refutes claim”.

According to the report Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL), the majority owner and operator of the Porgera gold mine has dismissed an allegation describing it as entirely untrue that it supports illegal mining. Barrick further said they did not condone illegal mining in any form and has consistently sought in cooperation and partnership with the government to discourage people from engaging in this activity which is not only unlawful but extremely hazardous.

However, Mr Papo said that even though everyone in Porgera including Jonathan Paraia and himself do not support illegal mining in Porgera, they are genuinely concerned about the conduct of Barrick in appreciating the illegal miners at the recent wardens hearing at Porgera.

“The illegal miners support for Barrick was never an isolated event, it was done in the full knowledge and active support of Barrick, whereby in front of thousands of people, the media and government officials, the Barrick’s senior manager, Timothy Andambo publically thanked and appreciated the support of the illegal miners in their quest to renew their license to mine for another 20 years.”

He added that the Government must now conduct an investigation into this incident as it has been spending millions of kina since 2009, to police illegal mining in Porgera and developer Barrick has undermined firstly, the government’s costly effort and secondly such conduct may have breached relevant PNG laws.

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Lead Objector To Barrick’s Application For SML Renewal Denied Voice

Kevin Teme | Post Courier | April 4, 2019

Chairman of Justice Foundation for Pogera, a not for profit organisation, Jonathan Paraia, who is the lead objector to Barrick (Niugini) Limited’s application for renewal on all its mining tenements in relation to Pogera Gold Mine, was turned down from giving his speech during the Mine Warden hearing in Pogera on Monday.

It is believed Paraia was in the stage of explaining the majority of the landowners’ stance as to why Barrick should not be granted its application for extension of the Special Mining Lease (SML) and other related tenements when he was deliberately told to stop by the Mine Warden.

The Mine Warden at that time was Andrew Gunua from Mineral Resource Authority (MRA), the relevant statutory regulatory authority that regulates the Mining Industry in the country. An attempt made to get in touch with the Mine Warden Andrew Gunua, MRA and Barrick representatives as to why Paraia, the lead objector of the SML was stopped during his speech was unsuccessful.

It is believed that majority of the landowners of the 24 SML clans and their agents who represents all landowners of Pogera SML area have objected that Barrick (Niugini) Limited will not renew its SML and other tenements. Barrick’s SML expires in August this year but it is believed the company has sent their applications to MRA for renewal.

Meanwhile, a text message received from one of the Mining Resource Authority representative stated that Paraia could not be allowed to continue to talk on that day because he got his lawyer to talk.

“It is against the Mining Act 1992 section 108 sub section (a) and (c) for another person other than landowners themselves to talk during the warden hearing. Sub section 2 (a) and (C) talks about identifying landowners at the hearing, assess and record views of landowners.”

The Mine Warden, Gunua in his response to one of the journalist that responded to this argument posted on social media stated that, “the lawyer is not a landowner and he was identified at the hearing as such. That is why Paraia could not be allowed to continue his speech.”

“Furthermore, Justice Foundation Chairman Jonathan Paraia was given the opportunity to speak during the hearing however he abused the opportunity by speaking out of the intent of the hearing and provoked the other landowners.”

“The intent was for him (Paraia) to raise his views as to the work program for each tenement as explained by the developer,” Gunua stated in his response to the journalist (named), which the journalist posted on facebook.

It further stated that as a result the Warden (Gunua) intervened to control Paraia even before he got his lawyer to talk.

Paraia when asked about this said the whole scenario was a set up by Barrick to disturb the objections and views made by the majority of the landowners.

“I represent the majority, 17 SML Agents out of the 24. The hearing today (on Monday) was for the Mine warden to hear the objectors’ views and not the parties that are in support of Barrick for its extension of SML license,” Paraia said.

“The Mine Warden has failed his part and has compromised by allowing the other parties including Barrick’s senior community affairs Manager Timothy Andambo and others who were in support of Barrick to have more time to speak while I as the lead objector was turned down and not given enough time to explain why we, the majority of the landowners have objected for Barrick to renew its SML license. Even the microphone I was using to talk was put off,” Paraia said.

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PNG landowner push for miner’s exit up against the odds

Johnny Blades | Radio New Zealand | 8 October 2018

A Canadian mining company appears to have government support in the face of landowner opposition to its presence in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands.

Barrick Gold is seeking a renewal of its Special Mining Lease licence at Enga province’s Porgera gold mine which it and Chinese miner ZiJin each own a 47.5 percent stake in.

But landowners are urging the government to reject the licence application due largely to Barrick’s stewardship of the Porgera Joint Venture for the past decade.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera says the mine has caused irreparable environmental damage and human rights abuses.

The group, which claims to represent landowners in the mine area, also accuses Barrick of failing to compensate victims of abuses or to resettle those displaced by the mine’s operations.

Its chairman Jonathan Paraia said that for almost thirty years the mine had caused many problems for landowners, and that the government should not renew Barrick’s permit.

“Because of overwhelming objection from the local community, even if they issue the exploration license, physically the landowners will not allow them to explore in their areas,” Mr Paraia explained.

“They want Barrick out of Porgera or Papua New Guinea. They want the mine to operate but they want to change the ownership rights.”

But the Lagaip Porgera MP, Tomait Kapili, claimed that the Justice Foundation for Porgera did not legally represent landowners, and said the Porgera Landowners Association remained the legitimate local representative body.

Mr Kapili has poured cold water on the Justice Foundation’s attempts to drive Barrick out.

A member of the national government, the MP said he expected the license would be renewed. But Mr Kapili said the new license could be granted on improved terms for landowners who currently have a 2 percent stake in the mine, and a measure of leverage.

“I’m ready to negotiate with Barrick and ZiJin on those funds, not to accuse them of this and that, and then tell them you’ve done enough damage, we take over the mine and all that,” he said.

“They (Barrick and ZiJin) have big investment in there, they are not going to move out. None of the allegations have been tested, except for the security guards’ harassment of ladies.”

Zijin Mining’s Chen Jinghe and Barrick Gold’s John Thornton Photo: Supplied

Some security personnel employed by Barrick were implicated in brutal gang rapes of local women and girls, part of a long history of lawlessness and violence around the Porgera mine.

A Barrick spokesperson denied that there have been any credible reports of rapes by its security contractors since the matter was investigated in 2010.

He also denied that the company hadn’t fulfilled its commitments to landowners removed from the mine lease area.

“The Porgera Mine pays significant statutory land use compensation to traditional landowners of the land on which the mine is situated,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The company notes that this compensation is determined by government regulation, and that contrary to recent claims, the mine has always complied with its compensation payment obligations.”

Regarding Mr Paraia’s claim that the mine hasn’t produced promised benefits for the local community or those evicted due to the mining operations, Barrick defended its record.

“In addition to providing many thousands of jobs for Porgerans and other Papua New Guineans, the mine has provided funding for the development of critical public infrastructure in Enga and adjacent Provinces throughout its operating life to date.”

On the back of collapsed revenues over the past couple of years, PNG’s government is unlikely to want Barrick to leave the country when there is no obvious replacement with the know-how to exploit the Porgera deposit.

“To date the Porgera Joint Venture has paid over 3.3 billion kina in taxes and more than 520 million kina in royalties, providing a long-term source of important public revenue for Enga, the National Government and the Porgera Landowners themselves,” Barrick’s spokesperson said.

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

The Mining Warden, Kopi Wapa, has been conducting hearings in Porgera as part of public consultations over the license application, before submitting his report to the Mining Advisory Council which ultimately makes a recommendation to the minister on whether to appove the license.

In his recent visit to Mr Wapa witnessed vocal crowds of Porgera landowners demonstrating their opposition to Barrick remaining. But Mr Paraia said his group was frustrated that their legal counsel was denied an opportunity to present their case to Mr Wapa.

According to Mr Paraia, he fears the mining warden may have been compromised.

“It is alleged, he flew into the mining area at the cost of the company, and he was accommodated at the company. They were eating and dining together. And he was subject to influence by the company. That’s why we thought the lawyer was denied from speaking.”

However, the Justice Foundation of Porgera has indicated it will serve a notice of dispute, and has suggested an independent arbitrator be engaged by the government as it weighs up whether to renew the Porgera Joint Venture’s Special Mining Lease agreement which expires next year.

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Porgera landowners frustrated with State

Chairman of the Resource Owners Federation of PNG, Jonathan Paraia.

Freddy Mou | Loop PNG | July 31, 2018

The Resource Owners Federation of PNG, a landowner company for the people of Porgera in Enga, are calling on the Government to fulfil its commitment in the MoA signed between the landowners in 1989.

The landowners are claiming that breaches in the MOA have caused negative impacts on the social, environmental and economic lives of the Porgera landowners.

Chairman of the Resource Owners Federation of PNG, Jonathan Paraia, said the 1988 proposals sought State approval and issuance of a Special Mining Lease (SML) for the mine to construct mining infrastructure that was capable of processing eight thousand tons of crushed ore through its mill over a mine life of twenty years.

However, he claimed that the State allowed what was called a “minor variation” after five years of the mine operations to double the processing rate to 17,000 tons per day.

“The landowners were deceived by the State since their lodgement of their position statement, failed to address their complaints, resulting in the landowners issuing a Notice of Dispute in April of 2015 which the State also failed to respond to.”

Paraia said the landowners are now planning to invoke the arbitration provisions in the MoA.

He added that the State’s failure to respond to the legal steps being followed by the landowners pursuant to the MoA is unbecoming of a responsible government.

Paraia reiterated that State agencies, especially the Mineral Resources Authority, are negligent of their duty to deal with the dispute in an orderly and responsible manner to ensure that the complaints are properly dealt with.

He further claimed that the State’s continuous ignorance of the issues raised by the landowners will do nothing but increase the frustration and anger of those affected, which could eventually lead to the disruption of yet another resource project in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea.

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Fly-In-Fly-Out Causing Economic Loss

Post Courier | July 15, 2018

The PNG Resource Owners Federation has countered assertions made by the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum that the fly-in-fly-out employee commuter-based system employed by mining and petroleum projects in PNG is economically “balanced”, compared to the alternative of living on site.

According to the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, FIFO provides the best balance of shared benefits to communities throughout PNG, not confined to host rural communities.

However, the PNG Resource Owners Federation maintains that it denies host rural communities of much need social and economic benefits.

Citing a 1997 study conducted by National Research Institute (NRI) on the economic impact of the FIFO of expatriate staff of one mining project in PNG, Federation president Jonathan Paraia said using the national income accounting equation, it is estimated that on average, the annual loss of national income is between K5.2 million and K13 million.

And considering the multiplier effect, the annual loss must be approximately K11 million and K29 million.

Mr Paraia said continuation of the FIFO system for a decade will cost the economy, including the multiplier effect, between K110 million and K300 million.

Mr Paraia said the economic benefits that could have been derived from a live-on-site arrangement would be employment in the informal sector, disposable income from FIFO employees, GST and other rates, taxes and fees, banking and financial services and trading, commerce and general business activity at all levels.

“The report further found that it was economically viable to build a township to accommodate the FIFO workers from this particular mine instead of the FIFO system.

“In that time, using the report’s formula, the country must have now lost between K253 million and K690 million over the period of the life of this particular project.

“The number would clearly run into many billions if all projects that practice the FIFO in the country are taken into account,” Mr Paraia said.

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