Tag Archives: MRA

Tolukuma mine liquidated

“Asidokona Mining Resources is reputable, committed, has integrity, and capacity” said then Mining Minister, Byron Chan when the government sold the mine in 2015

Who in the Mineral Resource Authority is going to take responsibility for this monumental mess?

SEE ALSO

Tolukuma mine purchased by Asian finance company with no mining experience

More farce over government’s botched sale of Tolukuma mine

Tolukuma future looks bleak, despite MRA spin

Post Courier | February 13, 2018

One of Papua New Guinea’s gold mines, Tolukuma, was liquidated last week after a service provider took them to court for non-payment of bills totaling US$233,844 last year.

The National Court ordered on February 08, 2018, that:

  • Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited is placed into liquidation by this Court under the provisions of the Companies Act on the ground that it just and equitable that the company be placed into liquidation.
  • Andrew Pini of Pini Accountants and Advisors is appointed to act as liquidator of Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited.
  • Tolukuma Gold Mines Limited is to pay Hevi Lift Limited and IPI Catering Limited’s costs of and incidental to the proceeding.
  • The time of the entry of these orders is abridged to the date of settlement by the Registrar which shall take place forthwith.

Liquidator Andrew Pini confirmed yesterday that the National Court last Thursday appointed his accounting firm to take on the liquidation process effective immediately.

Hevi Lift took the matter to court in October 2017 for their outstanding of US$233,844 owing since June last year. Two other companies, IPI Catering and Pacific Development Contractors submitted in support their statements to the court, as they were also owed K1.6 million and K1.8 million respectively by Tolukuma Gold Mines.

“I don’t know exactly how much they owe the creditors or service providers, what I intend to do immediately is make an assessment of the real debt figure and then will put out a report,” Mr Pini said yesterday.

“I will visit the mine to start our process of liquidation, but for now I have come up with directions on how we can immediately start. I have put out public statements to all creditors of the company to come and lodge their claims using the prescribed claim Form 43 of Schedule 1 of the Companies Regulations 1998.

“In accordance with Regulations 21 and 22 creditors of the company are required to lodge their claims by 5pm Wednesday March 14, 2018. After this, then I will ascertain the real debt figure for the mine.”

A Singapore-based Asidokona Mining Resources, a private company, bought the Tolukuma gold mine in Central Province for K81.35 million to recapitalise and eventually restart it. They took over from Petromin in 2015.

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Mercury kit study work for small-scale miners

alluvial miners at work

Alluvial miners at work on Bougainville

ONE PNG  | 15 January 2018

A recent mercury research study conducted at the small scale mining branch in Wau, Morobe Province is a collaborative work between the mining engineering department of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology, the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) through its small scale mining branch and the University of Kyoto-Japan through the leadership of Professor Takaiku Yamamoto, has released its findings.

The use of mercury has become very popular among artisanal and small scale miners because amalgamation is known to efficiently extract fine particles of gold from concentrates obtained by panning and sluicing operations. Gold alloys with mercury to form an amalgam from which the gold can subsequently be separated by evaporating the mercury.

The simplicity of the technique, low investment costs and its comparatively high gold recovery rate has made the mercury amalgam method an integral part of the artisanal and small scale gold mining operations.

In Papua New Guinea, most of the gold deposits worked by the artisanal and small scale gold miners are alluvial deposits in which the gold particles are liberated from gangue particles. It is customary to use riffled sluice-boxes to recover the liberated gold particles.

However, some of the gold particles, particularly the fine gold, does not settle in the riffle compartments but flows over to be discarded as tailings. In the hope of trapping these fine gold particles the artisanal miners frequently place some mercury in between the riffle compartments.

Then in recent years some semi-mechanised and mechanised alluvial mining operations used grinding mills or amalgam barrels for amalgamation of concentrates derived from their recovery systems before putting it through the knelson concentrators or shaking tables for cleaning.

Due to shear force between centrifugal force and drag force in knelson concentrators or the stratification action of the shaking tables, mercury is easily dislodged from the gold and is lost to the tailings. This is because the bonding mechanism holding gold and mercury together is weak and doesn’t require much force to sever the gold particles from the mercury, and because of size and density differences, mercury ends up in the tailings and eventually in the river systems.

However, by far the most dangerous practice adopted by the miners is the gold recovery process from the gold mercury amalgams. Gold is recovered by evaporating the mercury from the amalgam over an open fire

This process is commonly known as “cooking.” The mercury vapour, which includes fine globules, is partly inhaled while the remainder is released into the atmosphere, which returns as part of the “mercury cycle.”

Methods introduced to avoid the practice of releasing mercury into the atmosphere and which can reduce the mercury loss to less than 0.1 per cent are available but have not been so popular amongst miners due to the discolouring effect on the gold after distillation in a retort.

This discolouration is caused by the presence of iron and arsenic compounds and results in a lower price being offered by gold buyers for the product.

One such device is the “Mercury Retort” which evaporates the mercury in a closed cycle and recovers it by condensing the vapour with cooling water.

Mercury is toxic and an environmental pollutant which drew world attention in 1953 after it was reported that a large number of people living in the Minamata bay area in Japan developed symptoms of disease which affected their central nervous system after consuming fish.

The fish in the bay were contaminated with methyl-mercury as a result of mercury being released into the bay by the Chisso Corporation, a chemical company operating on the shores of the bay. The mercury poisoning was responsible for a variety of clinical symptoms which included speech impediments, failure of muscular coordination, and contraction of visual fields in the eye, disturbance in smooth eyeball movements, enteral hearing loss and unbalance of body. The disease is now commonly known as the “Minamata Disease.”

The recent study conducted at theMRA small scale mining branch in Wau was a collaborative work between the mining engineering department of Papua New Guinea’s University of Technology, the University of Kyoto-Japan and the small scale miners in Wau/Bulolo was to trial a an Amalgam retorting machine from Kyoto University-Japan.

The objective was to test run the Japanese mercury recovery kit, a prototype amalgam retorting machine for the recovery of mercury and critically assess the overall performance, its efficiency and ease of operation of the device.

The promotion and use of the retorts would be very beneficial in the long term as they are capable of reducing discharge of mercury vapour into the atmosphere and the environment. It can also recover bulk of the mercury for recycling which would be a potential economic gain for the small scale miners and the chances of them being poisoned can be minimized through the establishment of central facilities in alluvial mining active areas which will alleviate the more dangerous practice of ‘cooking” amalgams.

A batch of mercury gold amalgam samples were provided by the miners from around Wau/Bulolo mining areas for over a period of one week to conduct the research activity by retorting them in the furnace at four different temperatures (300-500 OC, 300-600 OC, 300-700 OC ,300-800 OC) and the mercury recovery results observed ,recorded and calculated.

From this activity, it is noted that mercury which was emitted during the process was mostly trapped in the condensers 1 and 2.

The carbon filter indicated zero mercury which concludes that the air released at the vacuum pump has zero mercury vapour.

From the results obtained, the research team concluded after careful assessment of the overall performance and efficiency of the mercury recovery kit that it is an appropriate technology and should be promoted and used in Papua New Guinea’s artisanal and small scale gold mining industry for mercury and recycling recovery.

MRA managing director, Philip Samar, who was instrumental in introducing the technology, said the purpose of this collaboration was to reduce and mitigate the increased use and disposal of mercury into the environment and increase alluvial gold production, resulting in the health of both the environment and people plus improving the wellbeing of ordinary PNG alluvial miners.

The MRA through its small scale mining branch in Wau would like to thank its research partners for the collaborative work undertaken.

This has set a milestone in being proactive in reducing and controlling mercury contamination to the environment and the users in the artisanal and small scale mining industry.

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Parliament Defers MRA Bill

Jeffrey Elapa | Post Courier | December 6, 2017

The Mineral Resources Authority Act Amendment Bill 2017 that was before Parliament yesterday, was deferred to allow more time for MPs to scrutinise the proposed changes.

The sought changes are also related to the functions of the MRA, membership of its board, reporting requirements, expenditure under the Public Finance (Management) Act, financing and increase of production levy among others.

Among MPs who disagreed with the Bill was Sinasina-Yogomugl’s Kerenga Kua who said section 27 gave unrestrictive powers to MRA to retain all funds derived from revenue sources.

He said specific revenue sources or fees paid like Mining Act 1992, Mining Regulations, Ok Tedi Acts, Ok Tedi Agreements, the Mining ( Bougainville Copper Agreement) Act or other agreements including rentals, production levies, fines and penalties and others should be not be kept by the Authority, but be remitted to the consolidated revenue.

Mr Kua said all the substantial amount of monies should be used to support Government programs.

He said the Bill also makes the MRA an independent authority which should be subject to national Parliament scrutiny.

“We want to correct a mishap but it is unconstitutional and therefore the Opposition will not vote for this Bill,” Mr Kua said.

East Sepik Governor Allan Bird said he is happy to support any Bill that is a good law for the interest of Papua New Guinea.

He said the Bill gives MRA powers to regulate and also make money. He further said that MRA will lose focus of its regulatory function as they would concentrate more on money making.

“When we introduce such Bills like this, we must be very careful,” Mr Bird said.

Trade and Commerce Minister Wera Mori said the composition of the board includes a member from the law society and a professional accountant. He said this is inappropriate as mining is a technical field that requires people with knowledge in the industry.Leader of government business, James Marape rescinded the final reading to be relooked before the final reading.

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Mining Laws In Need Of Review

Jeffrey Elapa | Post Courier | November 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No decision made in Bulolo licence application

Bulolo township

The National aka The Loggers Times | November 15, 2017

THE Mineral Resource Authority has clarified that a decision is yet to be made on the application for an exploration licence in Bulolo.
Managing director Philip Samar was responding to the claim by Bulolo district administrator Tae Gwambelek that an exploration licence (EL2544) had been issued.
Gwambelek had supported the objection by business houses, Papua New Guinea Forest Products and town residents over the alleged issuing of the exploration licence over existing leases near the town.
But Samar said no licence had been issued.
Samar said the MRA would conduct a wardens-hearing to allow the public and stakeholders to discuss their concerns and raise objections against the application.
After that, he said the warden would table a report with the mining advisory council for consideration.
“There will be no need for a township relocation just because an EL application has been lodged,” he said.
He also clarified that the MRA “does not issue tenements”.
“It recommends (it) to the minister or the head of the state,” Samar said.
Gwambelek said the application would be opposed.
“Bulolo residents are prepared for the scheduled hearing on November 28 to tell the warden that Australia has done enough damage to land in Bulolo,” Gwambelek said.
Morobe acting Governor Waka Daimon said that the land from Golden Pine Bridge to McAdams Park across to Manki Tower and along the Watut River down to Pine Top was owned by the National Forest Authority.

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Bulolo opposing new mining exploration

Bulolo township

The National aka The Loggers Times| November 10, 2017

THE Bulolo district administration is strongly opposing a licence for exploration activities near the town because the land had been damaged by past explorations, Administrator Tae Gwambelek says.

The administration is supporting the move by the business community and PNG Forest Products  (PNGFP) after the Mineral Resource Authority  (MRA) issued EL2544 to the Wabu Alluvial Mining company  (WAM).

Administrator Tae Gwambelek said Australia had done enough damage to land in Bulolo leaving behind huge craters on which the township was built.

“History will never be repeated again,” Gwambelek said.

“We have Hidden Valley and Wafi-Golpu mining including many small-scale activities. That is enough.”

Gwambelek said the Bulolo district development authority also acquired an exploration licence from MRA to conduct explorations outside Wau and Bulolo towns.

“How on earth, will MRA issue the EL 2544 to WAM to conduct explorations within the town? It is illogical,” he said.

“Bulolo town is not an exploration area and we totally object to the idea.

“We have PNGFP, National Forest Authority, University of Bulolo, Telikom Exchange, district administration office, police and courthouse and many small businesses operating in town and paying taxes to the government.

He said as the district chief executive representing 102,118 people in 324 villages and 108 wards, the idea was 100 per cent rejected.

He said the scheduled warden hearing on Nov 28, would be facilitated in front of the district headquarters to allow people to air their views.

Bulolo business representative Aaron Akui urged Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke and MRA chief executive Philip Samar to review the decision.

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Locals threaten to shut down Tolukuma mine

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Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | November 11, 2017

Landowners of the Tolukuma Mine in Goilala District, Central Province, have issued an ultimatum to the Government to withdraw the mining lease from operators, Asidokona, or they will shut down the mine.

Chairman of the Yulai Landowner Group, George Gusi, announced on his Facebook profile yesterday that a seven-day ultimatum was given, which lapses on Monday, November 20.

Gusi stated that the current operator was not capable of operating the mine and called for its withdrawal and for another operator to invest in the mine.

“I have given 7 days’ ultimatum for the government to withdraw the mining licence from Asidokona Mining Resources Ltd.

“The rationale behind this? Asidokona has no capacity to operate a mine.” He alleges the operator lacks financial capacity as well as expertise.

“I am taking this bold action to rescue my suffering landowners to make way for a potential investor to come in and invest on our land,” said Gusi.

“MRA and other concerned authorities must come out clear and provide clear explanation on this issue. “I have already woken up from my long sleep now so I will continue to pursue until I achieve what I want.

“My appeal to all those relevant authorities to be patriotic to our country, our people and take our people’s issues/concerns at heart in ensuring that any decisions made are there to serve the best interest of our people,” he added.

When contacted by Loop PNG, Gusi claims formal notices have been issued to the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), Mining Minister Johnston Tuke and other stakeholders.

He said if a favourable response is not received by the due date, they will shut down the mine.

In June this year Gusi snubbed the signing of the Tolukuma Mine memorandum of agreement (MOA), citing unmet outstanding issues.

Despite Asidokona being granted the mining licence, return to production has been problematic. Last month the MRA stated that tenement, regulatory and funding issues have stalled production.

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