Tag Archives: Jonathan Paraia

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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Resource Owners Welcome PM’s Address

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill (AAP)

“Their statements are a truthful admission and acknowledgement of the injustices suffered by the landowners of major resource exploitation projects in the country since colonisation”

Post Courier | April 4, 2018

The president of the Resource Owners Federation of PNG Jonathan Paraia has welcomed sentiments expressed by two important persons in the mining and petroleum sectors of the country.

Mr Paraia claimed that Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) managing director Augustine Mano and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill have expressed disappointment in the current benefit sharing arrangement between resource-owners, the government and resource developers.

Mr Paraia praised the Prime Minister and Mr Mano for their views on landowners and Papua New Guineans not benefitting enough and participating in the development and extraction of their mineral and petroleum resources.

“Their statements are a truthful admission and acknowledgement of the injustices suffered by the landowners of major resource exploitation projects in the country since colonisation,” Mr Paraia said.

He said the State laws on acquiring ownership of all minerals and petroleum resources held under the surface of the land without paying just compensation to the customary owners is unjust.

Mr Paraia said it was first introduced by the colonial governments and later adopted by the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, even though those laws are in breach of Section 53 (prohibition of unjust deprivation of property) of the Constitution of Papua New Guinea.

He said although a United Nations declaration in 2007 resolved for member governments to remove such unjust laws and restore the ownership of all land and resources acquired by the member States without paying compensation to their traditional owners.

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Resource owners welcome industry removal from MRA Board

Resource Owners Have Thanked The Government For The Many Laws That Give Rights To Them In The Country.

Post Courier | February 23, 2018

The Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea, which has been campaigning for the removal of the industry representatives from the board of the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), is pleased with the government for finally amending the Mineral Resources Authority Act 2005, to remove the mining industry representatives from the board of the authority. The presence of the mining industry representatives on the board of the MRA had caused the public to distrust the Authority and its decisions, even if those decisions were proper.

MRA is the State’s regulatory institution, whose function is to administer the mining laws of PNG.

Federation President Jonathan Paraia said it was utterly improper and unlawful for representatives of the industry, who are the subjects of the mining laws to have had a hand in the enforcement of the laws against themselves for the last seventeen years or so. He said their presence has been an impediment to the rule of law being applied impartially in the mining industry.

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Call to have equal sharing of benefits from resources owned

Jack Lapauve Jnr. | EMTV | 7 January, 2018

The President of Resource Owners Federation PNG is urging the National Government to be a firm regulator in the Mining, Gas and Oil sector.

Jonathan Paraia said resource owners in the country have been pushed to the side by the Government in many of the projects.

He said if the Government takes centre stage, resource owners around the country will continue their struggle to claim benefits.

According to a report by Mineral Resource Authority, almost more than half of Papua New Guinea’s income comes from the Oil, Gas and Mining sector [false!].

And with more explorations around the country, there is opportunity to pass the current rate. But the President of the Resource Owners Federation said there is no real benefit for resource owners.

Mr Paraia [sic] the Government must not interfere, but embrace resource owners for equal sharing of benefits.

Mr. Paraia believes benefits of the resources the country boasts about is not equally shared among the key stakeholders.

He said it is time the Government thinks of its people and provides that ownership platform to resource owners.

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Mining Laws In Need Of Review

Jeffrey Elapa | Post Courier | November 27, 2017

The Resource Owners Federation of PNG Inc is against development of new mines in the country without amendments to the existing laws governing the industry.

President Jonathan Paraia said while the Federation acknowledges the government’s desire to open new mines as expressed by the Mining Minister Johnson Tuke a review of the mining laws must be undertaken first.

“The customary landowners of Papua New Guinea by all means will oppose the development of any new mining projects without amending the Mining Act 1992 and the Mineral Resource Authority Act of 2005.

“The reasons are that the Mining Act 1992 must be amended to be compliant with the Constitution and the customary laws of Papua New Guinea, which both vest the ownership of all lands and minerals contained therein by those who own the lands.

“The amended Mining Act must therefore ensure that the landowners receive a fair share of the profits from any mining project.

“In the past, the mining companies have deceived the landowners and the national government into believing that their entitlements from the mining projects, such as contracts, compensation payments, royalties, taxes, levies and so on, were benefits, when in fact, an entitlement as in the English language is not a benefit. The dictionary of English, states that a benefit is a profit. Entitlements are therefore not benefits as we have been led to believe for so long by the mining companies,” he said.

Mr Paraia said the Federation also continues to support many calls for the removal of the representatives of the PNG Chamber of Mining & Petroleum and the PNG Business Council from the board of the Minerals Resources Authority (MRA), because of their inherent conflict of interest.

“MRA is the regulator of PNG’s mining laws and regulations and the Chamber of Mining & Petroleum and the PNG Business Council are representative bodies of the mining industry, the subject of the mining laws administered by the MRA. It is therefore inappropriate for those that are being regulated to be on the board of the regulator,” he said.

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