Tag Archives: Morobe Province

Australian company pushing to open Papua New Guinea’s first coal-fired power plant

PHOTO: A new 60 megawatt power station would have the ability to burn coal as well as use renewable biomass. (ABC News: Peter Giafis)

An Australian company is pushing ahead with plans to open a coal-fired power plant and coal mine in Papua New Guinea, despite the recent call from the world’s most authoritative climate science body to completely cut greenhouse emissions by 2050.

Key points:

  • Mayur Resources plans to open a power plant and possible coal mine in PNG
  • A new power facility is expected in just over two years, the Energy Minister says
  • Activists say the move would be counter to PNG’s commitments under the Paris accords

Yara Murray-Atfield | ABC News | 19 October 2018

Australian-based and PNG-focused Mayur Resources is proposing the establishment of an “Enviro Energy Park” in the industrial hub of Lae in PNG’s Morobe province.

Mayur has been in talks for the project since at least 2014, but now a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) has been signed between the company, the Lae City Authority, and the Morobe Provincial Government.

The MOA details plans for a new 60 megawatt power station, with the ability to burn coal as well as use renewable biomass, solar energy, and by-product heat.

Mayur Resources’ managing director Paul Mulder told the ABC the company was essentially at the stage of being “construction-ready” for the project, which he said would significantly reduce the energy cost for Papua New Guineans.

On Tuesday, Mayur released a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange detailing further non-binding plans to work with coal exporter Square at a coal mine in another province, touting the “low-ash, low-sulphur coal” found at Gulf Province’s Depot Creek.

If the projects are built, they would mark the first coal-fired power plant and coal mine in the country.

Coal generates mixed reaction

The project has attracted high-profile supporters, including Energy Minister Sam Basil who did not respond to an ABC request for comment, but said in a Mayur press release that “we can expect a new power facility in just over two years from now”.

“Whilst there are always those that will criticise, I take this opportunity to outline that Australia enjoys its first world developed lifestyle with 70 per cent of its total energy coming from coal,” Mr Basil said in the release, adding that this project would only be a much smaller fraction of PNG’s total energy.

PNG is a signatory to the Paris Agreement and, like Australia, recently signed the Pacific Islands Forum’s Boe Declaration, which says climate change “remains the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security, and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific”.

An assessment from PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Agency has given its endorsement to the plan, but it still faces community backlash.

“Our neighbours are really facing an existential crisis from sea level rise,” Christian Lohberger, head of anti-coal activist group Nogat Coal, told the ABC.

“So we think it’s irresponsible for Papua New Guinea to invest in coal, especially because there are many, many alternatives in Papua New Guinea for energy generation,” added Mr Lohberger, who also works for the Astra Solar company in PNG.

In 2016, World Bank data suggested only 23 per cent of the population had access to electricity, and even larger, electrified cities like the capital Port Moresby and Lae experience severe and frequent power outages.

Mr Mulder of Mayur Resources said PNG was an “energy-starved nation” and that the proposal “reduces the emissions footprint of what is currently the state of play in Papua New Guinea.”

Most prominent businesses in Lae use diesel-powered generators, which can produce carbon dioxide and other particulate emissions, and are known to reduce air quality.

“We’ve got the emission thing, but by the same token, if you lived in Lae, you would understand,” Lae MP John Rosso told the ABC.

“We have huge power fluctuations and we [sometimes] go a week without power.

“Our factories are suffering, our consumers are suffering, and I had to make that call, because we can’t keep sitting in the dark and letting our kids sit in the dark.”

The plan does have some resistance within government circles, with the Minister for Lands and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Justin Tkatchenko telling the ABC “for me personally … I am against coal fire, 100 per cent”.

Final hurdle is ‘unsolicited’ power agreement

The recent MOA is not an official contract, but Mayur said it had completed a feasibility study, selected a site, secured environmental approval, and received bids for the construction of the facility.

The plan also details a commitment to fully fund a research institute at the University of Technology, and provide $130,000 per year for 25 years to a local charity.

The sticking point for the project is now getting national provider PNG Power to sign a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) before energy could be sold to the country’s grid.

PNG Power’s acting managing director Carolyn Blacklock said they had received four “unsolicited” PPA proposals from Mayur over several years, without a public tender process, and that it was unlikely a deal would be signed without a competitive bidding process.

But Mr Mulder said the company received a written request for a PPA and was provided with PNG Power documentation to submit, which they did in March 2016.

The ABC has sighted a letter that appears to be from then-director of strategic planning and business development Chris Bais dated October 2015, which “welcomes” Mayur to submit a PPA proposal.

Ms Blacklock took on the acting managing director job earlier this year following a reshuffle of the company’s board and has overseen a massive restructure of the company.

She said regardless of what correspondence the company had engaged in to date, PNG Power had no obligation to accept any PPA proposal.

“In PNG we have very high costs over power, in part driven because what has been done at PNG Power: uncompetitive processes that have led to uncompetitive prices that leads to uncompetitive tariffs for our consumers,” Ms Blacklock told the ABC.

Meanwhile Energy Minister Sam Basil was quoted in the press release as saying “there is no cheaper alternative ready to be built” and that it was time for PNG Power to “act swiftly” to finalise the agreement.

“It doesn’t mean just because there’s pressure applied, that the PNG Power board or myself or management are going to be swayed,” Ms Blacklock said.

A month ago, Mayur resources was floated on the Australian Stock Exchange and raised $15.5 million in an over-subscribed initial public offering — money they say will go towards developing further projects in PNG.

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Wafi-Golpu Project To Lift Economic Growth, Says O’Neill

ECONOMIC GROWTH DOES NOT MEAN BETTER LIVES FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE

Benny Geteng | Post Courier | October 16, 2018

The Wafi-Golpu project in Morobe province and Papua LNG in Gulf province will help PNG experience a 3 per cent economic growth when productions begin, said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Mr O’Neill said the two projects, when they start producing will boost the economy of the country at a sustainable rate.

“PNG will experience a medium growth of 3 percent. 3 percent is a sustainable growth for a country.

“The Wafi – Golpu mine will be the basis to deliver infrastructure to the province,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said with the Papua LNG Project there is good progress to deliver the project and the negotiation team is at fiscal terms of project signing and closing to pass concessions.

He said the economy is looking bright at a good economic projection of 2- 3 per cent growth.

He also said there will be no fly in fly out for employees of Wafi -Golpu.

Mr O’Neill made this statement last week during the swearing in of the Lae City Authority interim board following a recent strong stance by Morobean parliamentarians who have made it clear they do not want the practice of fly in fly out in the Wafi – Goplu project.

Mr O’Neill said the country will not repeat the same mistakes of the billion dollar LNG Project deal in Hela Province to the new projects and the leaders have now learnt from their mistakes.

“We built an international airport in Hela and that airport is only used once every month,” he said.

He said these are some instances of missed opportunities that the Government will try to avoid in the upcoming mining projects of the country.

The Prime Minister said the new Wafi – Golpu mine is a bankable project for the country to embrace.

The construction phase of the Wafi – Golpu is valued at K5 billion and is set to be one of the biggest revenue earners for Morobe province when gold production starts.

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Morobe opposes fly-in-fly-out for Wafi-Golpu mine workers

Wafi-Golpu joint venture mine.

The National aka The Loggers Times | 31 July 2018

THE Morobe government does not want “fly-in-fly-out” for workers for the Wafi-Golpu mine project, says Governor Ginson Saonu.

Saonu said the proposed Nadzab Airport City would cater for the accommodation of employees.

“We are prepared to share whatever land we have to make this happen,” he said.

“We cannot just talk about it. We have plans for accommodation and all facilities that are needed by the employees of the mine.”

Saonu said this when presenting Morobe’s five-year development plan to Planning Minister Richard Maru in Port Moresby yesterday.

Maru said the government would budget for land at Nadzab to be made available to the mining company.

“We would like all the families to be located there, housing estate to be located there and they can easily go up to the mine,” Maru said.

“We want to make sure that Nadzab has a city and supermarkets.

“We must look at water, sanitation and sewerage for the airport.

“We really must have a well-planned development around Nadzab.”

Maru said he had spoken to Lands Minister Justin Tkatchenko about putting a team together for Nadzab Airport City development.

“We are excited about the mine starting up,” he said. “Wafi-Golpu will be a game changer for Morobe.”

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Morobe government eyeing 20pc stake in Wafi-Golpu mine

Junior Ukaha | The National aka The Loggers Times | 16 July 2018

THE Morobe government wants an equity of no less than 20 per cent in the Wafi-Golpu Mine.

Governor Ginson Saonu made this known last Wednesday during a two-day stakeholder forum in Lae regarding development of the proposed mine.

He said the Morobe government wanted to be an active partner in mine development.

“Apart from the legislated 2 per cent royalties, my government and people need better and attractive incentives in the form of equity,” Saonu said.

“We have made our position clear and have requested the National Government to acquire extra equity on top of the 5 per cent free carry.

“We are prepared to assist the Government to acquire this equity ourselves. We expect no less than 20 per cent equity in the project.

“We want to be a major partner with the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture in the construction and operation phase of the project.”

Saonu also asked the Government to uplift the curfew on the tax credit scheme (TCS) programme so that money could be used to fund infrastructure projects in mine-impacted communities.

“In this case, we request that over 50 per cent of the TCS be used in Morobe alone and a further 20 per cent to be used in the SML areas of landowners and impacted communities,” he said.

He said the Morobe government remained committed to see this project get off the ground during this term of government.

Saonu thanked the project area and pipeline landowners for giving their land for the project.

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Mining Activities In Bulolo Raises Social Issues

Hidden Valley mine has already led to increased HIV infection rates and more illegal settlement

Jerry Sefe | Post Courier | June 21, 2018

There is an increase in HIV/AIDS and illegal settlements in Bulolo as a result of mining activities.

Bulolo district administrator Tae Gwambelek said this last week Friday at the Team Morobe Wafi-Gopu Mine project development forum held at the Sir Ignatius Kilage indoor complex conference hall.

The forum was held between the Morobe provincial administration, Wafi-Golpu landowners and impacted district representatives to discuss various agendas of project development services for the province and the signing of memorandum of agreement for equal participation.

Mr Gwambelek said with Bulolo becoming the main transit hub for mine workers of Hidden Valley, the town has seen a sudden increase in social issues.

“These mining activities are most likely the main attracting factors that are contributing to the influx of people into Bulolo,” Mr Gwambelek said.

He said as far as health was concerned, the term prostitution or women willingly offer themselves for sex in exchange of money was a major social problem. While that was continuing, illegal settlements were also popping up unexpectedly in town, he added.

Mr Gwambelek told the forum that there was a need for such issues to be addressed in the mine forum to ensure effectiveness of the advantages of mining in the area.

“Wafi-Golpu is a world class mine that will definitely attract investors and other developers to take part in the mine including people from everywhere, therefore it is a must these issues are strategically addressed,” he said.

Bulolo hospital has confirmed the reports of increase in HIV/AIDS victims and said the hospital will be releasing the full statistics for HIV/AIDS.

Forum chairman and deputy provincial administrator economical services Masan Moat when responding to Mr Gwambelek took note of the discussion and said the agenda would be discussed in the next forum.

Mr Moat said the purpose of the forum was to discuss and identify such issues so that they are properly tabled for positive services throughout the process.

He said one of the objectives of the forum was to address social issues to secure social stability for Wafi-Golpu project through information sharing and consultations.

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New Wafi Golpu association is registered

On June 20, the Post Courier reported landowners from the Wafi-Golpu area in Morobe Province were ‘up in arms’ over a new association claiming to represent their interests.

Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining are hoping to build a gold and copper mine in the area.

The leaders from three existing associations representing Hengambu, Yanta and Babuaf said the Wafi Golpu Area Landowners Association and its business arm, Wafi Golpu Holdings Limited had been formed by people from outside the area.

Contrary to what was reported in the Post Courier, the new association and business group are both registered with the Investment Promotion Authority.

The Wafi Golpu Area Landowners Association was registered on 8 November 2017 by Judah Jimmy. The objectives of the association are:

  1. To engage and encourage members in the community to participate in the association’s projects to protect their environment from destruction as well as to reduce the impact of environmental destruction caused by mining exploration and development
  2. To reduce unemployment in the mining communities by increasing the employment of youths and other members of the member communities.
  3. To liaise with funding agencies with the Government and non-government organizations both domestically and internationally for the benefit of the Association, it’s members and  it’s affiliates pursuance of the Association’s objectives.
  4. To conduct awareness in member communities on the adverse impacts of mining and mining related activities.
  5. To mobilize member communities in protecting their environment from the adverse impacts of mining and mining related activities.
  6. To  secure spin off business activities from mining and mining related  activities in member communities.
  7. To design, engage, implement and monitor business projects in the member communities.
  8. To prohibit the payment of any dividends or payment in the nature of dividends or distribution of any gains to the members thereof, rather divert all properties, assets,  profits and income of this association exclusively ‘for education, and other purposes only in promoting the objectives of the Association,

Wifi Golpu Holdings Limited was registered on 23 May 2018. It has four directors who are also the shareholders in the company. They are Nawae Boga, Defo Camillus, Bill Itamar and Holmes Kissing.

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Alluvial miners want govt to reduce licensing fees

The National aka The Loggers Times | June 6, 2018

TWO alluvial miners at Wau and Bulolo, in Morobe, have called on the Government to reduce the fees needed for mining licences to help keep local people in business.

Many miners have gone out of business because they cannot afford the fees, said one of the miners, George Waure, on Friday.

Waure, who has been engaged in alluvial mining for the past 14 years, said that originally no fees were charged and miners worked freely.

The miners were also concerned with the presence of foreigners in the industry, with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill forced to come out in Parliament last month to clarify that alluvial mining was reserved for locals and not big businesses.

Westy Awiong, of Morobe Gold Field Small Scale Miners’ Association, said they were happy with the prime minister’s assurance.

Awiong said foreigners should not be involved in the sector.

“We have the experience as some of us have been mining for many years,” he said.

“If we are given financial assistance to purchase the right machines we can upgrade to commercial mining.”

Last month, Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu pointed out in Parliament that big companies were now getting into alluvial mining.

In response, O’Neill said those companies must stay out of it.

Landowners in Morobe have rejected an application by Wabu Alluvial Limited and Harmony Gold Exploration Limited for exploration licences for Bulolo Valley.

O’Neill said:

“I’m not privy to the letter that the governor is referring to, but I will instruct the mining department to look into the matter and respond in writing so that his concerns and our people’s concerns are being addressed properly.

“Generally, I support the call by the governor and the people (that) alluvial mining should be reserved for our people and not necessarily large international companies.

“I understand Harmony and the other companies have applied for exploration licences which are different from alluvial mining.”

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