Tag Archives: Lihir gold mine

Landowners threaten to shut down mine PNG’s Lihir mine

Radio New Zealand | 30 August 2019

Landowners in Papua New Guinea have given an Australian mining company a deadline to reinstate its manager.

The New Ireland landowners have given Newcrest until the 10 September to reinstate Craig Jetson as its executive general manager.

If the company doesn’t do that, villagers say they will shut the mine’s operations on Lihir Island.

Newcrest has appointed Craig Jones to replace Mr Jetson and this has not gone down well with the landowners.

A landowners spokesman, Newman Sana, said they wanted compensation for damage the mine had caused to the environment.

He said that Mr Jetson, who has been on Lihir for two years, had worked well with the landowners in their negotiations with the company.

“If he (Jetson) leaves, we don’t trust and we don’t believe anyone can take up that fight,” Mr Sana explained.

“Even he has challenged our own governor and the mining minister. We are not going to stop fighting until we make that change.

“We are concerned that if Craig goes, if this is not going to work out we are going to shut down the mine.”

Mr Sana said at a meeting last week with mine officials including Mr Jetson, the landowners issued the company with a 21-day notice to reverse its decision to replace Mr Jetson or face a shutdown of its operations.

He said Mr Jetson is the only company executive to reside on Lihir and engage with the community and landowners.

“His removal in the middle of a review of the compensation package for the landowners is a breach of trust,” Mr Sana said.

“Under Craig’s leadership, he has delivered cash profits for the company and I believe his dismissal is to derail a better compensation package for the landowners.”

Mr Sana said Newcrest has been operating in Lihir for almost 20 years and the landowners have suffered.

“But Mr Jetson brought hope. He is respected by all Lihirians not just the affected landowners,” he said.

Mr Sana said the landowners will meet with company officials again next week.

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PNG aims to retain 30% of exported gold, may change currency pegs

Jonathan Barrett | Reuters | 19 August 2019

Papua New Guinea wants to retain at least 30% of the gold it currently exports as it transforms its economy under a new government leadership, the country’s commerce minister said on Monday.

PNG was the world’s 14th largest gold producer in 2018, according to the World Gold Council. Its assets include the Porgera gold mine, majority controlled by a joint venture between Barrick Gold Corp and Zijin Mining Group , which has a lease currently up for renewal.

PNG’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Wera Mori told an investor forum in Sydney that the resources-rich nation was developing policies to keep more of the commodities it produces in the country to improve its economy.

“We are in the process of developing the framework to retain at least 30% of our gold that we export every year,” Mori told an investment forum in Sydney.

Mori said that PNG would also consider pegging its currency, the kina, to gold, rather than the U.S. dollar.

PNG’s central bank currently fixes its currency to a narrow U.S. dollar band, propping up the kina’s value while creating a shortage of dollars available in the Pacific nation.

James Marape, the former finance minister who became PNG’s new leader in May after winning a vote in parliament, has put some of the world’s biggest resources companies on notice over a perceived lack of wealth flowing from their projects back to communities.

This includes sending a team to renegotiate its Papua LNG agreement with French oil major Total SA.

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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 on PNG’s Lihir seek compensation for water usage

The weir (dam) at Londolovit river where Lihir Gold (Newcrest Mining Limited) extracts water for its local mine operations. Photo: Cyril Gare

Radio New Zealand | 14 January 2019 

Landowners on Papua New Guinea’s Lihir island want compensation for a mining company’s use of water from Londolovit river.

The Londolovit Sagomana Association accuses the owner of the Lihir gold mine of stealing water through a dam where the miner extracts water for its operations.

Operators of the mine, now owned by Newcrest Mining subsidiary Lihir Gold Ltd, got approval to build the dam in the 1990s.

However, the Association’s chairperson, Roselyne Arau, said Lihir Gold Ltd breached the permitted rates of water usage.

Landowners are seeking 113 million kina, or $US33 million, in compensation.

“They did not comply. They pump out water beyond that permitted rate. That’s why they are liable to pay that 113 million kina. It’s 113 million just only for three years: from 2013, 2014 and 2015 alone.”

Both Lihir Gold and PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority have rejected the Association’s claim.

They said the Londolovit Sagomana Association had no legal basis to claim compensation because the state is the “owner” of the water, not the landowners.

The Association wants the government to return ownership of the water to the landowners.

It has again petitioned prime minister Peter O’Neill for help to address the landowners’ grievance over water usage.

Mr Arau said landowners had written to the prime minister last year but that he had been too busy to look at the matter at the time.

“This is the start of the brand new year, we want to meet with prime minister in person immediately,” she said, indicating the landowners would resort to “other options” if their grievance was not addressed.

“This government is well aware of our plight, there are enough scientific reports and correspondences before it.”

According to Ms Arau, the miner’s over-extraction of water, as well as its practice of dumping mine waste into the marine environment, has had a detrimental affect on local livelihoods.

“They pump out water every day for gold operations, and they cause so much damage. Sometimes the water goes dry and the fish and everything in the water died away. At the same time we are not using the water any more for drinking and cooking.”

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Citigroup limits financing for mines that dump tailings at sea

Jim Tan | Mongabay | 12 June 2018

  • Following pressure from advocates, Citigroup said last month that it will not fund any future mining projects over $50 million that dispose of mine waste in the oceans.
  • Tailings, a fine-grained, often toxic slurry left over after the processing of mined ore, are still disposed of in oceans, lakes and rivers in several countries.
  • Mines in Papua New Guinea, Norway and Chile are proposing to dispose of tailings in the ocean.
  • Local communities are often most affected by pollution from mines and have vocally opposed tailings disposal in the ocean in Norway and Papua New Guinea.

Several mines around the world dispose of potentially toxic mine waste directly into the ocean. Environmentalists have criticized the practice, arguing that the waste smothers ocean habitat and leaches harmful chemicals and heavy metals that can poison marine life. Last month Citigroup, a major shareholder in four mining companies that either actively dispose of mine waste into the ocean or propose to do so, agreed not to finance any new operations that pipe mine waste into the sea.

Citigroup’s move comes after pressure from an international coalition of NGOs that launched a campaign this year to end the disposal of mine waste in natural water bodies. The coalition, led by the Washington, D.C.-based environmental NGO Earthworks, is calling for a global ban on the practice and pressuring financial institutions to stop funding mining operations that engage in it. Earthworks announced Citigroup’s move in a May 2 press release.

“Citi’s decision says loud and clear: ocean dumping is dirty, unnecessary and wrong,” Ellen Moore, who coordinates the Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign for Earthworks, told Mongabay.

There are few signs of life on the bottom of Jøssingfjord in southern Norway 35 years after dumping ceased at the Tellnes titanium mine. Scientists believe it may never recover. Image by Erling Svensen.

Toxic tailings

One of the key problems miners face is how to safely dispose of the huge quantities of waste rock and tailings produced in the mining process. The tailings, a fine-particle slurry left over after the target metal has been extracted from the mined ore, are particularly tricky to handle. Tailings often contain potentially harmful chemicals used to process the ore, like cyanide and petroleum, as well as by-products like sulphuric acid and heavy metals like lead.

Nowadays, the vast majority of the world’s 2,500 industrial-scale mines dispose of their waste on land. But several mines still dump into water bodies, including at least seven into the ocean, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Indonesia, Turkey and Norway; at least three into rivers, in PNG and Indonesia; and at least five into lakes in the U.S. and Canada, according to a non-exhaustive list from Earthworks. The group calculated that mines dispose of more than 220 million metric tons of waste in water bodies every year — enough, the group says, to fill 55 sports stadiums.

“Although mine waste dumping in water has been phased out in many parts of the world, mining companies still use it, governments still allow it, and the world’s largest banks and investment firms still profit from it,” Moore told Mongabay.

This is partly the result of geography. In Norway, suitable and stable terrestrial locations to store mine tailings are hard to find because of the mountainous terrain. In PNG, mines face a similar problem and must also contend with frequent earthquakes and flooding during the rainy season that can destabilize tailings dams.

Tailings pipes from the Marcopper mine in Marinduque, the Philippines, enter the sea at Calancan Bay. Image by Catherine Coumans/MiningWatch Canada

It is now widely accepted that tailings disposal can have a catastrophic impact on rivers and the creatures that live there. But the effect of tailings disposal in the ocean is somewhat more contentious.

Companies including Oslo-based Nordic Mining, which proposes to pump tailings from a rutile mine into Førdefjord, a fjord in southwestern Norway, suggest that deep-sea tailings disposal can be safe. They argue that, due to the layered nature of the ocean, so long as tailings are piped deep enough, ocean currents will not spread them, and their impact on marine life will be minimal and localized.

Charles Roche, executive director of the Mineral Policy Institute, an Australian NGO that assists communities affected by mining and is a signatory to the campaign, is less convinced. He points to the very limited peer-reviewed literature as evidence of the impact of submarine tailings. Two studies conducted around the Lihir gold mine in PNG found fewer deep-water fish and reduced marine life on the sea floor compared to the surrounding areas.

Part of the problem is that there is very little independent research into the effect of submarine tailings disposal, Roche told Mongabay.

“Research into submarine tailings is generally done by or for proponents [of submarine tailings disposal],” he said.

Many of the studies are environmental impact assessments conducted on behalf of mining corporations applying for a licence to operate and are rarely publicly available, according to a 2015 article in Oceanography magazine.

The lack of peer-reviewed research on the topic is a problem for Lisa Levin, an oceanographer with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. A 2015 review she co-authored in Marine Pollution Bulletin suggests that a major reason is the high cost of conducting research in the deep sea.

Despite the limited research, Levin is also convinced tailings disposal has a negative impact on the ocean. “It will never be good for marine ecosystems,” she told Mongabay.

Citigroup acts

Citigroup, a multinational investment bank and financial services corporation based in New York, is among the top 20 largest financial institutions in the world, with total assets of $1.84 trillion in 2017.

Citigroup’s business is split into two divisions: consumer banking under the Citibank brand, and investment banking. It was Citigroup’s investments that attracted Earthworks’ attention. Citigroup is the third-largest shareholder in the Australian mining companies Highlands Pacific and St. Barbara Limited, which Earthworks says have together disposed of 54 million tons of toxic tailings in the ocean around PNG. Citigroup also holds shares in Norway-based Nussir ASA and Nordic Mining, which have both proposed disposing of tailings at sea in Norway.

Fishing boat on Repparfjord, Norway, where Norwegian mining company Nussir ASA proposes to dispose of tailings from a copper mine. Image by Kjerstin Uhre.

The campaign wrote an open letter to Michael Corbat, Citigroup’s CEO, in January 2018 asking the bank to sever ties with companies that dispose of waste at sea.

“Citi was immediately responsive after we launched the public campaign,” Moore told Mongabay. “It was clear that the bank did not want to be associated with the harmful and outdated practice.”

Following negotiations, Citigroup revised its Environmental and Social Policy Framework to state:

“Citi will not directly finance new mining projects … that utilize submarine waste disposal.”

The policy will only apply to future projects requiring corporate loans over $50 million, and does not apply to the bank’s brokerage business, which holds shares on behalf of clients.

When asked about the company’s new policy, Citigroup spokesperson Laura London responded:

“Citi has a comprehensive Environmental and Social Risk Management Policy that covers our business with a range of sectors, including the mining sector, and we carefully review any sensitive environmental and social impacts of activities we finance, in line with our global standards and good industry practice.”

London declined to respond to detailed questions, and the bank has not publicly announced the move itself.

Roche welcomed Citigroup’s policy change, but he recommended the bank “extend the policy and prohibit any involvement, including company or nominee shareholdings, of riverine and [marine tailing disposal projects].”

Nevertheless, Moore believes this quick win for her campaign is the first step in the right direction. She said Citigroup also agreed to add companies that dispose of mine waste in lakes, rivers or the ocean to the bank’s internal watchlist and subject them to tighter scrutiny.

Levin agrees that Citigroup’s move is significant.

”[Citigroup’s] policy certainly helps to raise awareness of the negative effects of submarine tailings disposal,” she said. “Because the economic sector drives so much of human behavior I believe it is an important first step to engender change.”

The campaign is also targeting the multinational financial institutions Bank of America, Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan, contending that they also “have ties” to mines that dispose of waste into water bodies.

Local communities pay the price

View of the Ramu Nickel mine refinery where mine waste is disposed of into the ocean in Papua New Guinea. Image by Christopher McLeod/Sacred Land Film Project.

When mine tailings cause environmental damage, it is often local communities and indigenous groups that pay the highest price. Moore is critical of brokerage businesses, such as Citigroup’s, that hold so-called nominee shares for clients, which can be used to shield the clients’ identities. She said that if affected community groups could identify shareholders and then communicate their concerns directly to them, it would make a difference.

In PNG, tailings from the Tolukuma gold mine resulted in elevated levels of arsenic, lead and mercury in the drinking water and flooded croplands for communities downstream, according to a 2013 report prepared for the International Maritime Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. The report also notes anecdotal reports from local communities of increased illness and deaths after drinking and bathing in the river where the mine disposed of its tailings.

In both PNG and Norway, local community groups have been vocal in their opposition to the disposal of tailings at sea. Landowners in PNG attempted to prevent the Ramu Nickel mine, majority owned by the Metallurgical Corporation of China, from dumping its tailings in the sea through a class action lawsuit, but were unsuccessful. In Norway, Saami indigenous people have frequently voiced their opposition to proposals by Nordic Mining and Nussir ASA to dispose of tailings in Førdefjord and in Repparfjord, in the northern part of the country.

“It is illogical and immoral to sacrifice our traditional, sustainable and profitable fisheries for an uncertain mine project that relies on outdated practices to turn a profit,” said Silje Karine Muotka, a member of the Saami parliament, in Earthworks’ press release.

Nevertheless, both projects appear to be moving forward.

Citations

Brewer, D.T., Milton, D.A., Fry, G.C., Dennis, D.M., Heales, D.S., & Venables, W.N. (2007). Impacts of gold mine waste disposal on deepwater fish in a pristine tropical marine systemMarine Pollution Bulletin 54(3): 309-321.

Hughes, D.J., Shimmield, T.M., Black, K.D., & Howe, J.A. (2015). Ecological impacts of large-scale disposal of mining waste in the deep seaScientific Reports 5:9985.

Ramirez-Llodra, E., et al. (2015). Submarine and deep-sea mine tailing placements: a review of current practices, environmental issues, natural analogs and knowledge gaps in Norway and internationallyMarine Pollution Bulletin 97(1-2):13-35.

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Aussie taxpayers chipping in for mining giant

Millions of dollars from Australian taxpayers are being spent to seal the Boluminski Highway in New Ireland, in the shadow of the giant Lihir gold mine run by Newcreat Mining.

In total the Australian government is spending $400 million on Phase 2 of its Transport Sector Support Program in PNG.

Australian taxpayers are footing the bill for infrastructure PNG’s huge foreign-owned mines were supposed to pay for.

Boluminski Highway sealing underway

PNG Loop | April 27, 2018

Works are well underway in New Ireland on a major project to reconstruct 32.4 kilometres of the Boluminski Highway between Pinatgin and Loloba.

The K39.4 million project is being delivered through the Papua New Guinea – Australia Partnership, with the support of the New Ireland Provincial Government.

Australia is committed to supporting a prosperous Papua New Guinea. Works along the Boluminski Highway will help business and local communities access markets and services and boost the tourism industry in New Ireland Province.

Department of Works Secretary, David Wereh, is pleased to see the project progressing well.

“This is an important project on an essential economic corridor for Papua New Guinea. The project will nally link the centres of Namatanai and Kavieng with 265km of sealed maintainable road.

“This will be a signi cant achievement made possible through a long term commitment by the Papua New Guinean and Australian governments,” he said.

More than 140 local residents are employed on the project and works are expected to be completed by the end of December 2018.

The project is being delivered through the Papua New Guinea – Australia Transport Sector Support Program.

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K5M Projects For Nimamar As Sir Julius Fires Broadside At Lihir Gold Mine

Chan: “We will light up the islands and shame the mining giant with the glow of our solar street lights” 

Post Courier | April 26, 2018

Traditional dance groups added colour to the launching of nearly K.5 million worth of projects for five wards in the Nimamar LLG on Malie Island in the Lihir group last Saturday.

The projects include 60 solar street lights to light up village communities in the four island wards from Malie, Masahet and Mahur.

But three boats and one sawmill marked the biggest village impact projects rollout that came under two project initiatives of the New Ireland Government – the Ward Level Project Policy and the Lighting Up New Ireland Policy’

Governor Sir Julius Chan, deputy governor and president of the Nimamar LLG, Ambrose Silul, PEC and provincial assembly members, shipping operator Michael Chan from Vanmak Shipping and staff from the governor’s office and Nimamar LLG gathered with the people to witness the occasion.

Sir Julius had the chance to meet with his people in the electorate. He was at Lambom to launch seven sawmill projects for the Konoagil wards last Thursday with the president James Pandi and then joined president Silul on Saturday to wind up the week.

He told the Lihir people that the Lihir gold mine is the third largest in the world and yet after 20 years in operation Lihir still was without a sealed ring road up until only three years ago, and no power to the inhabitants, even to the islands.

“We recognise that a lot of money for the province comes from Lihir so today I am happy to join with Ambrose so we can put something back to the place of origin. So we will light up the islands and shame the mining giant with the glow of our solar street lights and show that even though the the mine is not forthcoming, this government cares and does what we can to better the lives of our people”

Sir Julius said he’s optimistic of a better deal for the people in the negotiations under the MOA revision that will increase the mining royalty from the current 2% to 10%.

“We fight to put wealth in the hands of the people. Development won’t come if people have no money. If the people are rich the country is rich.”

He encouraged the people to rally behind their president who has been part of the major policies that have impact the province and elect good leader in the coming LLG elections.

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