Tag Archives: Landholders

President Calls For A Fair Share Of Lihir Gold Mine Benefits

Post Courier | August 12, 2019

Newly elected president of Nimamar local level government (LLG) Stanley Tunut has called on the national government to allocate its share of service delivery funds owing over the years.

Mr Tunut, a National Alliance party member unseated deputy governor and incumbent president Ambrose Silul of the People’s Progress Party (PPP).

His election was witnessed by locals who gathered in numbers at the Tumbawinlam House last week Thursday.

He said Lihir island has been deprived of government services despite having the third largest gold mine in the world.

“Over the years, the people of Lihir have not felt the impact of the funds from the national government’s service improvement programs directed to the provincial, district and the local level government,” Mr Tunut said.

But he said that the royalties worth millions paid into the Nimamar local level government have made no impact in the livelihood of the people.

“The first thing I will do is to overhaul how the budget of the Nimamar local level government will revolve to the people of Lihir with the royalties that is directed into the administration.”

He said the budget of the LLG will be well structured to benefit the people rather than the administration consuming the entire internal revenue.

“I intend to make some changes in the administration the budget was delivered in past and make a fresh start,” he said.

“If you visit the entire island on the western and to the eastern tip, you will notice the run down state of infrastructures and road conditions. To get to the western tip of the island will only require four-wheel vehicles to manoeuvre through. School and health infrastructures are wearing to and drug supplies in the aid posts and clinics are inadequate,” Mr Tunut said.

He said only a fraction of the population that reside within the perimeters of the mine site receive benefits from the mining company Newcrest Mine Limited.

Mr Tunut said to look after the affairs of the people of Lihir, there has to be an audit made on the works of the previous administration in order to make a fresh start.

“The people of Lihir do not want any political affiliation but want services to be delivered.”

He said the Nimamar local level government under his leadership will support and work alongside Namatanai member Walter Schnaubelt to deliver projects for his local level government.

He urged all stakeholders, churches and the entire population including the landowners of Lihir Gold Mine to unite because the future of Lihir will depend entirely on them.

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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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Leader Speaks His Mind On Porgera Mine

Communities living around Papua New Guinea’s Porgera gold mine lack enough access to clean water to meet their basic needs. Photo: Columbia University

Post Courier | August 5, 2019

The landowners of Porgera mine have given up their mountains and land to mine developers. This is with the thought that they will be partakers and beneficiaries. But after 30 years they still haven’t benefited from it.

These are the words of Nixon Mangape who is a signatory of the 24 landowner agents that signed the MOA in 1989.

“We have given our mountains to the developer to mine gold which we thought that the government will benfifit from the taxes collected from the developer, as well as the national and provincial government but us the landowners will receive the maximum benefit,” he said.

“That was our initial thought when we signed the agreement in good faith but in so many years the developer haven’t given us any contract.”

Mr Mangape said that he represented Tiene Wape clan.

“Out of the 23 landowners that were party to the signing of the MOA in 1989, I am the 24th person who signed the agreement,” he said.

“I have not benefited from the mine and even my clan have not benefitted.

“That applies to all 24. We were not given contracts.”

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Australia to be sued over mining project’s ‘unmerciful’ destruction of Indigenous land

Galarrwuy Yunupingu, who is launching legal action against the commonwealth, says Nabalco and its successor, Rio Tinto, failed to ask the local people where they could and couldn’t go on the Gove peninsula. Photograph: Peter Eve/AAP

Galarrwuy Yunupingu taking legal action for loss of native title as well as destruction of dreaming sites

Helen Davidson | The Guardian | 4 August 2019

The federal government is facing a lawsuit over damage done to Indigenous land by the decades-old mining project that sparked the Yirrkala Bark Petitions.

Gumatj leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu revealed on Saturday that he and his people were taking legal action against the commonwealth, seeking compensation for the loss of native title over the minerals exploited by mine operator Nabalco and its successor, Rio Tinto, as well as the destruction of key dreaming sites.

The suit is expected to use the historic precedent set by the Timber Creek judgment by the high court in March, which ruled on monetary compensation for loss of native title.

“They’ve come to Gove peninsula without asking properly of the landowners of the place,” Yunupingu told the crowd at Garma festival, in north-east Arnhem Land.

“They have all come, getting the OK from the PM and the government of the country, to come all the way and start digging and insulting the country.”

He accused the two companies of having “ripped some land unmercifully”.

“They have damaged our country without seeking advice to us and they have damaged a lot of dreamings – dreamings that were important to Aboriginal people.”

He said the companies failed to ask the local people where they could and couldn’t go on the Gove peninsula in north-east Arnhem Land.

Traditional owners have received royalties from the mine, a fraction of the total revenue drawn from the site. They have recently opened their own mine and training centre, Gulkula Mining, of which Yunupingu is chair.

Prospecting for what would become the bauxite mine and refinery began in the 1950s, and Yolngu traditional owners were strongly opposed.

Leases were granted and excised without consultation of the people of Yirrkala, and the now historic Yirrkala bark petitions were delivered to the federal government in 1963. Yunupingu, whose father was then Gumatj clan leader, helped draft the petitions.

However, the mine went ahead, with the Gove agreement signed five years later between the commonwealth and Nabalco.

Traditional owners took the mine to court in 1971, the first ever native title litigation, but lost, with the judge citing the doctrine of terra nullius in his judgement.

The loss sparked the establishment of the Woodward royal commission, and NT land rights act.

The case flagged by Yunupingu on Saturday will rest on the precedent set by this year’s Timber Creek decision from the high court, which awarded more than $2.5m in compensation to native title holders over dozens of acts by the NT government between 1980 and 1996 which were later found to have “impaired or extinguished” native title rights and interests.

More than half the amount was to compensate for “cultural loss”.

The March judgment reduced the amount ordered by the federal court in 2016 but otherwise held up the new precedent of quantifying the monetary value of native title and associated compensation for the removal of land rights.

Native title experts responded to the ruling with predictions it would pave the way for potentially billions of dollars in liability payments by Australian governments.

The attorney general, Christian Porter, said on Sunday: “There is a well established process for native title claims and those processes would be followed for any such claim lodged regarding bauxite mining.

“I note that at this point what has been said is an intention to lodge a claim and that a claim has not yet been lodged.”

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Mining industry implicated in multiple rapes and murders faces no “real consequences” after lobbying Trudeau 33 times in just over a year

Samuel Helguero | The Post Millennial |  3 August 2019

On January 17, 2018, then Minister of International Trade, Francois-Philippe Champagne, announced the establishment of a new position.

For many, it was good news. Trudeau’s promised Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise came with the “ironclad” guarantee that an independent official would have the power to compel documents and witnesses for their investigations into corporations.

The commitment to the ombudsperson was not only verbal, but was included in Trudeau’s campaign promises and was stated explicitly on the Q&A page of the government’s website once he was in office.

For many it was good news. 

Critics of Canada’s mining industry were particularly hopeful. The multi-billion-dollar industry is one of the largest in Canada and has long been suspected of crude human rights abuses—abuses that would warrant an investigation.

“A cultural habit”

Among the industry’s possible violations of international law—as bodies like the UN and Amnesty International might attest—is the chemical poisoning, rape, murder, and serious beatings of hundreds of men, women, and children by people the industry directly or indirectly employed: all over the course of little more than a decade.

Taking just one example, in the mid-2000s researchers rushed to an area in Papua New Guinea, pursuing local reports of murder and abuse at a Canadian-owned mine (owned by Barrick Gold). One report was painstakingly gathered by villagers who travelled six hours to send documents in the closest area with internet.

Asides from victims of murder and beatings, researchers were surprised to find, when they arrived, that more than a hundred women and children had been raped by the mine’s security forces.

Barrick Gold Mining Company tried to cover up their security forces indiscretions, even at parliamentary hearings. Barrick’s founder, Peter Munk defended his company’s inaction complaining that human rights organizations did not understand how “gang rape is a cultural habit” in Papua New Guinea. But after dozens of human rights lawyers threateningly swarmed the island, the company gave in with a small compensation mechanism for 119 women.

Barrick made the compensated victims sign a legal waiver promising that they wouldn’t pursue legal action against the company. One lawyer working on the island found Barrick Gold to be executing a similar harm-and-sign practice in Tanzania. This is only a small glimpse into the array of telling cases.

Trudeau’s “ironclad commitment”

It is understandable why such a large and profitable industry—operating in the most remote corners of Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa—with a questionable history of human rights practices, would not want a powerful ombudsperson to investigate their affairs.

Yet, Trudeau had made a commitment, a sealed promise, to create an ombudsperson with the powers to compel witnesses and documents.

“We had an ironclad commitment by the government of Canada that this would be the mandate of the office,” MiningWatch Research Coordinator Catherine Coumans recalled in conversation with The Post Millennial.

“These companies are headquartered here, they’re getting tax-breaks here. They needed to be held to account here.”

But when in April 2019 the experienced and well-qualified Sheri Meyerhoffer was publicly appointed to the position of ombudsperson, she didn’t even know which tools or powers would be available to her.

“We’ll see what the toolbox ends up having at the end of the day,” Meyerhoffer said in an archived document provided to The Post Millennial

Indeed, it was made clear in a 2019 April press conference that “at the end of the day” Meyerhoffer and the public would have to hear from an independent legal opinion that would help establish the complete extent of her investigative powers. The expert’s advice was planned for release in early May.

This legal opinion never came out.

An undisclosed source told Coumans that the experts’ report took a wrong turn in the government’s eyes upon suggesting the new ombudsperson could be legally equipped with all the powers to subpoena initially promised. Others have suggested publicly that a legal disagreement took place on the best legal mechanism for giving Meyerhoffer serious investigative tools. Either way, the legal opinion was kept behind the political curtain.

Without the once-promised ability to compel witnesses and documents, the ombudsperson became limited in her investigations. She could still carry out inquiries and supply recommendations to the government. However, her reports would lack crucial specifics and credibility.

“Three months later, the study has not been made public, [and] the [ombudsperson] remains without meaningful powers to serve impacted communities and workers,” wrote several members of the Advisory board charged with overseeing the appointment of an ombudsperson, as they resigned this month in protest.

“We are increasingly convinced that the government has no intention to fulfill its commitment to create an independent office before the next federal election.”

Continuous lobbying

Now, several months after Meyerhoffer was announced as ombudsman, a recent report highlights the campaign of intensive lobbying launched by the mining industry between the pivotal time frame of January 2018 to April 2019, a campaign that may have influenced impressionable bureaucrats.

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the Prospector and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), both organizations representing a plethora of individual Canadian mining corporations, lobbied the federal government on 530 occasions. The Prime Minister’s Office opened their doors to lobbyists of the industry 33 times in this same time period.

The contents of those meetings are not known. However, the data available does indicate those most lobbied by the industry.

These names include senior policy advisor for Natural Resources Canada and former employee of the mining industry, Guillaume Julien—lobbied 38 times—and Sarah Goodman, policy advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office—lobbied 18 times.

Jim Carr, now Minister of International Trade Diversification, who announced Meyerhoffer and her limited purview at the aforementioned press conference, also met with lobbyists from the mining industry a total of four times.

Moreover, Carr’s chief of staff took part in three meetings.

In contrast, only a single civil society organization was granted a meeting. That organization, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, was given just one meeting to discuss the mining industry despite continued and relentless attempts to arrange discussions. Adding insult to injury, the meeting was with a junior staffer, not the high-level policy advisors that entertained the mining lobbyists.

“We were being warned by staff members within the ministry that we needed to get a meeting because the industry is lobbying the heck out of the PMO. We were constantlyconcerned that the ombudsperson’s powers be removed. We were clear that if these powers were removed, they would effectively be duplicating the failures of the Harper government to put a strong ombudsperson in place,” Coumans said.

However, Coumans was not necessarily surprised by the political influence the mining industry seems to have demonstrated. The industry has long had a “revolving door” with the government, regularly handing out positions to “retired” politicians.

Take for instance, Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Both worked for the mining industry after leaving office.

Chretien went around the world, at the end of his political career, lobbying for the energy sector, while Mulroney has sat on the board of corporate directors for the largest gold-mining company in the world—Barrick—based in Toronto. The former leader has also had the privilege of being Chairman of Barrick’s International Advisory Board.

For John McKay a Liberal MP who has campaigned forcefully for accountability in the mining industry, he cannot help but echo this evidence that forces within the Canadian government are not operating on totally selfless motives.

“There are elements within the bureaucracy that don’t necessarily wish to see the ombudsperson have real abilities to access real investigations that have real consequences for real offenders,” McKay told The Post Millennial

Diplomatic flu

It is worth noting that McKay speaks with experience dating back to 2009 when he initiated efforts to hold the mining industry (as well as other members of the energy sector) accountable for human rights abuses abroad. The bill he tabled under the Harper government was consequently stopped after “possibly the most intensive lobbying interest known to mankind.”

Under McKay’s 2009 Private Member’s Bill C-300, three agencies—Export Development Canada, the Canada Pension Plan, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade—would have to withdraw funding from companies acting “inconsistently” with the principles of corporate social responsibility.

“I’m generally a balanced budget guy, fiscally responsible, respect a competitive tax environment, competitive regulatory environment, but I have absolutely no time for companies that play on the edges of corruption and abuse of human rights,” Mckay explained.

Much like guarantees for a powerful ombudsperson, McKay’s plans would not come to fruition.

Despite a minority Conservative government (voting unanimously against the bill), and support from the Bloc and NDP, the 2009 motion failed by six votes.

“A few of my erstwhile liberal colleagues seemed to go south on me just at the wrong time. Apparently, they had a severe case of ‘diplomatic flu’ when the vote came up,” McKay said tellingly.

Indeed, despite possibly record attendance by Conservative MP’s, “diplomatic flu” seems to have struck 14 Liberal MP’s who did not turn out to vote. Bill C-300 would be buried. 

This is the legacy of the mining industry in Ottawa, that has proceeded to perpetuate itself with continual “pressure and lobbying” observed by people like the Secretary-General of Amnesty International. Similarly, men like the Secretary-General have not failed to comment that action by the current government “doesn’t take us a step forward.”

Of course, there are options open to the disappointed members of the public that want to see an effective investigation into possible human rights abuses. As always, they can stage bold demonstrations. They might also—as some have suggested—make it an issue in the coming election.

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Seminar focuses on social, environmental impacts of extractive industries

The National aka The Loggers Times | August 1, 2019

THE creation of God is being disturbed by man in the name of money, material and development, Evangelical Lutheran church of Papua New Guinea Head Bishop Dr Jack Urame says.

Urame gave his address on the church’s position on environmental and social justice during a youth seminar themed “Creation not for sale! Humans not for sale!”.

The seminar was held at St Andrew’s Church at Ampo, Lae, on Tuesday, for youth coordinators from the fourteen circuits of the Jabem district of ELCPNG.

The seminar focused on the social and environmental impact of the extractive industries in Morobe.

“Money, material things and development are good, but they are not the goal of life. Consumerism is not the means to satisfaction of life,” Urame said.

“Economic progress is good, but not the answer to human quest for freedom, justice, peace and harmony in the world.”

Urame quoted an Indian proverb: “When the last tree on earth is gone, when the last fish in the ocean is gone, when the last drop of fresh water is gone, you cannot eat money” to emphasise the need for people to consider others.

“We are living in the same planet, we must be responsible for each other,” he said.

“We agree that the current conventional economic model is not the best because it is more about wealth creation than wellbeing.

“It is unhelpful and destructive and we need to find an alternative model.”

The seminar is an activity leading up to the ELCPNG National Youth Conference in Lababia village in Salamaua, which will be hosted by the Malalo circuit of Jabem district.

The seminar aims is to provide relevant information to empower youths, who will be leading discussions during the youth conference.

Other presenters were Charles Roche from the Mineral Policy Institute and Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, and head of department for applied science at the PNG University of Technology Dr Reilly Nigo.

The seminar will end tomorrow.

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PNG gas project teething issues normal, says minister

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 1 August 2019

A landowner threat to shut down a major gas project in Papua New Guinea has been averted for the time being.

On Wednesday Baimuru landowners in Gulf province announced they would shut down the $US13-billion Papua LNG gas project in their district.

They were unhappy with the developer, French company Total, over issues around landowner company contracts in the project.

The Minister of Petroleum and Energy Kerenga Kua told Johnny Blades that these were merely teething issues in the project, and talks between stakeholders have resolved the issue for now.

Kerenga Kua: It’s a new project and people trying to get to understand each other. So, misunderstandings can arise and also temperaments can be affected. So, these are merely teething issues. And I think it’s been substantially resolved already by a meeting last night, between Total, the department and landowners last night. So it’s by the by, by now.

Johnny Blades: There was a grievance expressed by these landowners over the non-renewal of contracts for some of the companies or entities in work associated with this fledgling project. So are you saying that they’re back on deck, or at least Total have agreed to look at this again?

KK: Well, it’s important always for people to talk between themselves and… I must express my concern that the landowners resorted to the extreme course of action available to them pretty quickly, without firstly exhausting all avenues of talking with Total. As leaders of that community, they needed to be wary of the words they use and the actions they take, because the project is going to be there for the long term and everybody will benefit out of it, and the first line of people  to benefit from that will be the local people themselves. For that reason they needed to develop a culture of tolerance and dialogue, so resorting to threats in terms of shutting down and talking about a Bougainville-type issue and all this is very unhealthy.  Total have made some decisions, those are business decisions that have to be made during the preparatory stages because the actual determination of who the landowners are is a process that would have to take place in accordance with the Oil and Gas Act. At this stage my message to everybody is this: we need to understand that there is a very clear difference between being a landowner in fact and being a landowner in law for the purposes of the Oil and Gas Act. Now, the landowners themselves know as a matter of faith who the landowners are, they themselves know it, and they organise themselves into groups and try to get spin-off businesses, etc. However, for the purpose of being determined landowner for the purposes of Oil and Gas Act, there’s a process that must be completed, and that process is still ongoing.

JB: And that will be sorted in due course?

KK: In due course, when I sign off on what they call the landowner determination, then that becomes the  landowners in law and in fact, for the purposes of Oil and Gas benefits flow.

JB: Because of the example of the first big LNG project up in the Highlands, do you think these Gulf province communities, landowner communities, have good reason to worry? You know, they’ve seen how the Hela and Southern Highlands communities have not had the benefits that were promised them, and perhaps that’s why they’re concerned, so they’re just trying to get things moving?

KK: Yeah, from the outside, it’s difficult to see what things the landowners have received and what things they have not received. And I had the same issue before I was Minister for Petroleum. But what I have seen now coming in is that the scenario is this: the state is substantially up to date in honouring its commitments. And I thought differently, I thought completely differently. And I used to push that barrel on behalf of the landowners before. And I still do in the residual areas that remain to be attended to. But what I’ve noticed is that the state and the developers in particular substantially complied with their obligations to pass the benefits on to the landowners. Where the issues are, are where, for example, the landowners themselves have differences amongst themselves, then they take the matter to court and the court then issues that an injunction to freeze disbursement of entitlements to the landowner until those court proceedings completed. That’s one area.

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