Tag Archives: Landowners

Canadian Mining Company Torex Gold Resources Inc; Archetype of Violence in Guerrero

REMA | October 4, 2019

Since 2010, in the heart of the municipality of Cocula in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, Canadian mining company Torex Gold Resources Inc. has been operating through its subsidiary Minera Media Luna S.A. de C.V.. Its Limón-Guajes project is an open pit and underground gold and silver mine. Since the company’s arrival, it has been one of the spoiled favourites of diverse political operators in the state of Guerrero, especially the governors of the day, as well as having received repeat visits from the Canadian diplomatic mission in Mexico. This has allowed Mr. Fred Stanford, Torex Gold Director, President and CEO, to move freely with complete impunity, despite hundreds of harms committed by the company and its violent operators, particularly in the communities of Nuevo Balsas, La Fundición, Real de Limón and Atzcala.

Since which time the company has been in the area, its operations have been shut down various times as a result of actions taken by mine opponents and workers. On each occasion, some sort of violence has been perpetrated against them by workers affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM by its initials in Spanish, a “protection union” that does not legitimately represent workers) and organized crime, which has for years operated openly in the area in favour of the company, controlling who comes and goes, offering jobs and suppressing the population at its whim. The list of harms that have taken place is just as long as the impunity that operates in the country, starting with the people who were displaced from the community La Fundición who had to flee the country or move to other states to avoid being assassinated. The appearance of false land titles used to dispossess the original owners of their land and the forced relocation of around 170 families from La Fundición and Real del Limón. The mine has also contaminated water supplies, which has permanently affected the economic activity and health of fishers in the community of Nuevo Balsas. The University of Guerrero distorted the information about the contamination as if the company had no role, which is hardly surprising given that the university has received funds for years from Torex Gold, as well as from Goldcorp when it was still operating [the Los Filos mine] in Carrizalillo, Guerrero.

In addition, there have been multiple cases of extorsion, people being picked up and either threatened or disappeared, and kidnappings. We recall what took place to the three brothers Victor, Miguel and Modesto Rebolledo Salinas, members of the community Real del Limón who were picked up shortly after their other brother, Eligio Rebolledo Salinas, was shot and seriously injured. Another pair of brothers were assassinated, Victor and Marcelino Sahuanitla Peña, who had been workers opposed to being exploited by the company and the CTM. The most remarkable aspect of their assassination is that it took place in sight of so-called “military officials” assigned to patrol #0827327, which several days prior had installed a security checkpoint in the area. The checkpoint was in response to a 600-strong worker strike that shut down mine operations as part of their struggle for the freedom of association, freedom of union representation and freedom to collective negotiations as fundamental rights. Shortly later, another leader in this worker struggle was murdered, Mr. Quintin Salgado Salgado. This cleanup that the company and its assassins undertook to get rid of people struggling for their rights also included – of course – individual and mass dismissals of workers. Meanwhile, others have continued to be persecuted in a grotesque manner, considering the disappearance of opponents such as Oscar Hernández Romero on September 23 of this year. Since this time, over a hundred people have gone looking for him in different parts of Cocula. His disappearance is retaliation for the legal action that 200 workers who were unjustifiably dismissed have taken against the company. Now, the pseudo-community police, made up of assassins who operate in favour of the company, have decided to shut down their search, issuing death threats against the friends who are looking for their leader.

Below we share a brief outline of the recurring harms that have taken place in connection with the violent Canadian mining company Torex Gold Resources Inc. We do so in order to shed light on a story that has not been told and that has been little analyzed, except perhaps by the publication Diario El Sur in Acapulco.

Since the [2017] closure of the company’s operations as a result of the 600-strong worker strike demanding that the company refuse to recognize the collective agreement with the CTM union any longer, there have been a series of violent events gradually taking place, making an increasingly notorious case. In response, there were attempts at a solidarity visits by diverse actors, who were also detained by groups of assassins on their way to the area. High ranked state representatives also appeared, along with Canadian diplomats, the state and municipal police, the gendarmerie and the army, as well as representatives of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic (STMMSRM by its initials in Spanish), led by now Senator Gómez Urrutia who, using the influence that he has in Canada, brought the United Steelworkers (USW) into the fray. The USW urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene with Mexican authorities to stop the repression against the worker strike. The Canadian union also issued a press release denouncing that the subsidiary of Torex Gold Resources had struck an alliance with the CTM union to associate all of its workers to that union without their consent, stating that this is a “corrupt practice” that is illegal both in Canada and the U.S. Support from these unions soon led to a case before the Federal Board for Conciliation and Arbitration where at least two public hearings took place to determine the date when a vote would be held to select a union, which clearly pointed toward the creation of a section under the STMMSRM.

In the press, a date for the vote was announced to finally determine the change in union. However, one day prior to the date set by the Federal Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, the company widely distributed a communiqué in which it expressed its pleasure at an internal agreement that had been reached by the parties, with which the strike was lifted and – with the stroke of a pen – the conflict, the assassinations, the kidnappings and the cases of extorsion were all forgotten. Nothing further was known of the national or international support that mine opponents had received from the STMMSRM and the USW. The repressive Mr. Fred Stanford, President and CEO of Torex Gold Resources Inc., heaped exuberant praise on himself, lauding his good business sense. But it was all a lie because the testimonies of the opponents state that it was organized crime acting in favour of the company who suddenly ended the strike with their arrival and threat to kill everyone if the strike did not stop. All the support for the workers was withdrawn without a word from the national and international unions, the state and municipal governments, the Federal Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, the Canadian diplomats, or the state and federal armed forces. Meanwhile, Mr. Stanford was widely celebrating “the great agreement” that had been reached.

This summary helps to explain that the violent reality that the communities in the municipality of Cocula and surrounding municipalities live with has not changed one bit. The federal government continues to be absent in the area, despite the effect created by the case of the young men from Ayotzinapa. As a result, impunity continues to be at the centre of corporate power that has every political operator in the state suppressed, submissive and bought out. Mining “progress and development”, as REMA has documented and denounced ad nauseum, is – to put it lightly – an atrocity. 

REMA expresses our solidarity with the struggle of the men and women who are living with systemic violence throughout the area known as the “Guerrero Gold Belt”. We know that this is a struggle that you are fighting in complete solitude because, for some time, the state has been fully in the pockets of organized crime and the mining companies. In this context, we recognize the tremendous efforts you are making to hold your heads high and continue to fight for life.

When will the simulation and impunity end?

If the Fourth Transformation fails to get clarity about this root issue, everything that is said in the daily morning press conferences will be totally irrelevant

We demand the appearance with life of Oscar Hernández Romer 

For Territories Free of Mining 

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights

Mountain of allegations & many questions about MRDC scandals

Mekere Morauta

Mekere Morauta | PNG Attitude | 12 September 2019

New information about the scandal-plagued Mineral Resources Development Corporation has become available, reinforcing the urgent need for an inquiry into its operations and the status of the hundreds of millions of kina it manages on behalf of landowner companies.

There is now a mountain of allegations about MRDC and its landowner subsidiaries. I expect that in the coming weeks more will be revealed about their dubious activities and the real value of the investments they have made, purportedly in the interest of landowners.

The latest revelations affirm prime minister James Marape’s decision to hold an inquiry into MRDC, and add substance to existing allegations of possible fraud, misappropriation, abuse of office and breaches of various laws including the Public Finances (Management) Act, the Companies Act and the Auditor-General’s Act.

It is in the public interest that these allegations are fully tested in a formal inquiry.

The new allegations came within a matter of hours of public comments in defence of MRDC and their own operations by Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta, the interim chairman of MRDC landowner company Petroleum Resources Gobe, and John Natto, the chairman of MRDC’s Petroleum Resources Kutubu.

They covered a wide range of activities by MRDC and its subsidiaries, including the expenditure of landowner trust funds I identified in parliament on 4 September.

One example is K30 million that was allegedly withdrawn from an MRDC subsidiary’s account in November last year.

Landowners have an absolute right to know the details of the processes involved in its use, the people responsible, the purpose of the expenditure, and the ultimate destination of the funds.

There are some important questions the prime minister’s inquiry should consider in this specific instance:

Where did the K30 million come from – was the ultimate source an account held by Petroleum Resources Gobe?

Was the K30 million drawn down in November 2018, and was approval granted by the PRG board at that time?

Was a board meeting, not attended by landowner directors Philip Kende (then chairman) and George Kisi, held in January this year to restrospectively ratify the draw-down?

Is it true that the K30 million was then split between Petroleum Resources Kutubu and Mineral Resources Star Mountains then shifted out, purportedly to pay for a shortfall in finances for the construction of the Hilton Hotel/Star Mountains Plaza?

On what authority did PRK and MRSM accept the transfer of funds to their accounts and is there any documentation to support the transfer?

Can the MRDC, PRK and MRSM boards demonstrate with documentation that the money was actually used on the Hilton, and not for some other purpose?

These are just some of the concerns about MRDC and its landowner subsidiaries raised by credible sources. Other allegations have been made about MRDC’s involvement in HeviLift, Dirio Gas and Power, resorts in Samoa and Fiji, the Four-Mile Casino, Ela Beach land and Moran Haus in Lae.

It is clear from the reaction of MRDC that it is terrified of being exposed to the disinfectant of sunlight – it would much rather its activities remain hidden from scrutiny.

I have been reliably informed that extraordinary measures have been taken by board and management to cover up their activities, including IT measures and video surveillance of staff members.

In the face of this MRDC campaign against transparency and accountability, I encourage members of the public with information about MRDC and its activities to contact the Police Fraud Squad

The decision by the MRDC group not to publish all its audited accounts means that public suspicions and questions will not go away.

So I urge Governor Haiveta and Mr Natto to use their influence and involvement to ensure that MRDC publishes all the group’s outstanding audited financial statements.

It is the lack of verified information, and the refusal of auditors and the Auditor-General to sign off on many financial statements, that give credence to the public’s fear that all is not well within the MRDC group.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Financial returns

New PNG leader aims to ‘maximise gain’ from resources sector

Despite the rhetoric of a leadership challenge is the new PM really going to change PNG’s addiction to elite politics and large-scale resource extraction?

Tom Westbrook | Reuters | 30 May 2019

  • Parliament elects ex-finance minister James Marape
  • Critic of major gas deal, plans to review resource management
  • Peter O’Neill resigned on Wednesday after weeks of turmoil
  • Concerns over benefits from resources not reaching the poor 

Former finance minister James Marape was elected prime minister of Papua New Guinea on Thursday, and the critic of a major global gas development deal vowed to review management of the nation’s resource riches.

Marape received 101 votes to eight in parliament in the capital, Port Moresby, a day after Peter O’Neill resigned having lost the support of the house after almost eight years in power.

Marape, who hails from the poor but gas-rich highlands of the South Pacific nation, said he would focus on “taking back our economy” and proposed an overhaul of mining, forestry and fishing laws.

“We will look into maximising gain from what God has given this country from our natural resources,” he said in his maiden address to parliament.

“I have every right to tweak and turn resource laws for my country, then it will empower my citizens as well,” he told the chamber to cheers and applause.

Political instability is not unusual in the poor but resource-rich country, but Marape’s resignation from cabinet in April tapped into growing concern over governance and resource benefits not reaching the poor.

Those concerns ultimately led to O’Neill’s downfall.

Marape told a news conference after he was sworn in at Government House that any changes to laws would not be retrospective.

But he has previously questioned an agreement with French oil company Total in April, which allows Total, Oil Search Ltd and ExxonMobil Corp to begin work on a $13 billion plan to double gas exports.

“We are not here to break legally binding project agreements,” he told reporters when asked if he would consider reviewing another gas deal with Exxon critics say has failed to benefit landowners and the government.

However, he added: “If we find any project agreement … that has not fully complied with proscribed provisions of law, then we are open to reviewing and scrutinising them,” he said.

“We are not about breaking laws. We are about honouring existing laws.”

Exxon has said it does not comment on politics. Oil Search and Total did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Business leaders in Papua New Guinea offered cautious support for the new leader.

“He was finance minister so understands need for clarity and stability in policies,” Isikeli Taureka, chairman of Kinabank and a former oil and gas executive at Chevron and InterOil, said in a text message.

“I believe he is rational and seems to lean towards respecting and grandfathering current agreements,” he said.

The political uncertainty has knocked almost 6% from shares in Oil Search, an Australian partner in large liquefied natural gas developments in PNG, since the challenge to O’Neill gained traction last week.

Oil Search shares climbed in early trade, but turned negative after Marape’s election to trade 0.7 percent below Wednesday’s close in a falling broader market.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

World Class Mine: World Class Disaster

Handout picture released by the Minas Gerais Fire Department showing an aerial view taken after the collapse of a dam near the town of Brumadinho in south-eastern Brazil, on Friday. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

Ellen Moore | January 25, 2019

First responders are reporting ‘various deaths’ and at least 200 missing from a tailings dam break at Vale SA’s Feijão Mine in Brumadinho, located in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. In addition to consuming the Vale’s entire property, the toxic waste also reached the community of Vila Ferteco. Residents in the southern region of Brumadinho are being evacuated. Harrowing photos and videos show mine waste cutting across roadsconsuming homes and farmlandHelicopters and rescue teams have been deployed to the area.

According to local activists, numerous complaints have been made about the risk of rupture of dams since 2015, and yet an extension for operations at the mine was approved by national environmental authorities in December 2018.  

This is Brazil’s second major environmental disaster due to a tailings breach in recent years. In 2015, two tailings dams at the Germano iron ore mine, co-owned by Vale SA and Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton, failed, spilling the equivalent of 25,000 Olympic swimming pools and killing nineteen people. The disaster cut off the drinking water supply for a quarter of a million people in the region and polluted the Rio Doce watershed, killing fish and wildlife.

Since the spill, Vale’s stock price has nosedived.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights

ExxonMobil’s project in PNG is economic parasitism

Still from Ian Shearn’s 2013 documentary When We Were Hela, which investigates the ExxonMobil LNG project in Papua New Guinea. Photograph: Ian Shearn

PNG was lulled with wildly unrealistic modelling. It would be dangerous to conclude that this couldn’t happen to Australia

Scott Ludlam | The Guardian | 2 May 2018

The OED defines a parasite as “an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.” Parasitic relationships exist throughout the natural world and are defined by their one-sided nature. Ticks, mites, tapeworms: they all get something for nothing, and in all cases you’re better off without them.

Exxon’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in the highlands of Papua New Guinea provides a distressing case study of large-scale economic parasitism. A new economic analysis of the project by Jubilee Australia quantifies the ways in which the resource industry can drain the life out of an economy while providing less than nothing in return. That it was pulled off with Australian taxpayers’ assistance is even more damning.

There have been any number of warning signs. Last year in a budget estimates session, I was keen to understand how Australian officials representing our export credit agency Efic could justify lending half a billion dollars to the project. After all, ExxonMobil advertises itself as “the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company”, declaring revenues of nearly a quarter of a trillion US dollars in 2017. Why they would need Australian taxpayer assistance to get a gas project off the ground seemed highly suspect. At the time, the company was celebrating the 300th shipment of LNG from the project’s export terminal, and yet the landowners in Hela hadn’t been paid any royalties. Predictably, this was raising tensions in the area and there were – and are – very real fears that the project could end up triggering an armed insurgency.

The resource industry spends a fortune downplaying the negative social and environmental consequences of its presence. Their arguments generally gravitate to the simple appeal that the economic benefits more than compensate for the costs to country and culture.

The Jubilee report craters this line of argument, demonstrating that the economy of PNG would have been better off without the project. It was co-written by executive director of the Jubilee Australia Research Centre Dr Luke Fletcher and economist Paul Flanagan, who has held senior roles within treasury departments in both Australia and PNG. It puts hard numbers to the economic case against the project, demonstrating that since it started up, household incomes have fallen, employment has fallen, government expenditure has fallen, and imports have fallen. It shows how a combination of project economics and policy decisions made by the PNG government combine to act as a net drag on the economy. Buoyed by wildly unrealistic predictions of the flood of tax revenues that the project would unleash, the PNG government went on a debt-fuelled spending spree, sending the budget sharply into deficit. The Jubilee report details how in 2012, PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill told a mining and petroleum conference in Sydney “… we are borrowing now certain in the knowledge the revenue inflows from mining and LNG projects will make repayment manageable.”

We know how this story ends. ExxonMobil paid about “one-thousandth of its expected share of LNG sales from the project” in 2016. The company’s aggressive use of tax havens and clever drafting of the deal between the parasite company and the host government are all it takes for the revenues to vanish into a thicket of holding companies and a PO box in the Bahamas.

The Jubilee report was instantly dismissed as “fake news” by O’Neill, lending a Trumpian flavour to the unrepentant gouging of the people and landscape of PNG by a foreign oil and gas multinational. O’Neill has since admitted he hasn’t read the report.

Professor of economics Michael Hudson has some words of warning for people trying to rid themselves of economic parasites. “In nature, parasites don’t simply attach themselves to a host and suck out blood, or take the surplus in an economy. In order to do that, they have to numb the host. They need an anesthetic so that the host doesn’t realize it’s being bitten.”

The anesthetic comes in the form of economic modelling used by project backers and beneficiaries to lend an aroma of scientific legitimacy to their cause. In this instance, wildly unrealistic Acil Tasman (now Acil Allen) modelling commissioned by ExxonMobil in 2008 provides a textbook case of why these documents should be treated with utmost suspicion. The Jubilee report demonstrates how Exxon’s economists-for-hire were about as wrong as it is possible to be in their hallucinations of employment, tax revenues and a doubling of the size of the host economy.

The PNG LNG project has it all. Dispossession of traditional landholders and non-payment of royalties. 7.9 million tonnes of fossil gas exported and then discharged into the atmosphere every year. Aggressive tax avoidance by Exxon and its commercial partners. Outstanding returns for Exxon shareholders , and a half-billion dollar soft-loan by Australian taxpayers to make the whole venture stack up.

We’d be dangerously wrong to conclude that this kind of parasitic resource-curse afflicts only our less fortunate neighbours: ExxonMobil pays no tax in Australia, either. While we do what we can to help the people of PNG wring some kind of redress from this debacle, we also need an honest diagnosis of the amount of anesthetic being applied here at home.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Tuke Praised For Alluvial Mining Plans

Post Courier | March 12, 2018

PLANS to reserve alluvial mining for locals has attracted praise from local landowner companies across the country.

Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke said he wants to enable locals to build up wealth and capital to prosper in the next stages of the mining-especially in the mineral rich areas.

An aspiring umbrella landowner company, Tundaka PNG Limited of Mt Tundaka exploration licence area, applauded the move.

The new prospect is located in Enga’s Kandep district along the border with Magarima in Hela.

“As the chairman of the umbrella company, I congratulate Mr Tuke and support this initiative to empower landowners to the landowners to venture into such lucrative businesses on extractive industries,” chairman Pokya Pea said.

He said to break the barrier of landowners being the collectors of royalties only and spectators in their own resource developments is the step in the right direction.

“We can’t be bystanders for foreigners to extract our valuable resources and giving us 2.5 per cent only as equity share especially in the extractive industries.

“The proposal, when established, will strengthen our economy through setting up our bullion bank and financially empowered,” he said.

Mr Pea called on the government to amalgamate the Mineral Resource Authority and the Department of Geo-hazards Management to bring about new extractive projects as well as to build the capital wealth of people.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Niuminco moves to 100% ownership of Edie Creek mine

More foreign companies trading PNG resources as if PNG laws and landowners didn’t exist

PNG Resources | August 07, 2017

ASX-listed Niuminco Group Limited is now the 100% owner of the historic Edie Creek gold mine in PNG after completing an agreement to purchase the final 17% interest it did not hold.
The company has acquired the 17% interest in the in the Edie Creek mining leases held by former Joint Venture partner Mincor Resources NL’s subsidiary Mincor PNG Limited (to be renamed Niuminco EC Limited) by purchasing the ordinary shares in that company.
The purchasing company is one of Niuminco’s PNG subsidiaries, Niuminco Edie Creek Limited.
The purchase price of $150,000 is payable two years from the completion date in cash or shares (at Niuminco’s election), or earlier should Niuminco sell the leases to a third party.
Should Niuminco choose to pay in shares, the share price will be the 30 day VWAP for the 30 trading days immediately preceding the date of the notice of election by Niuminco.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea