Tag Archives: New Ireland

Last Chan-Ce

The Political Career Of One Of The Youngest Members Of Parliament And Mining Minister Byron James Chan Is About To End Today

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | July 13, 2017

The political career of one of the youngest members of parliament and mining minister Byron James Chan is about to end today.
National Alliance Party president Walter Schnaubelt is four ballot boxes away from being declared winner of the Namatani seat in New Ireland province. Schnaubelt has polled 15,843 votes after 19 of the 24 boxes had been counted, and needs more than 2000 votes for the 50+1 allowable votes in order to be declared.
Byron Chan’s father and New Ireland Governor, Sir Julius Chan, is also struggling in second place in the regional seat, and People’s Progress Party leader Ben Micah is in the same boat in the Kavieng open.
Counting is slow in New Ireland so Schnaubelt’s inevitable victory may not be declared until later today to end the brief political career of the mining minister.
Elsewhere, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is a sitting Members who will be re-elected and an announcement is likely sometime today in his Ialibu- Pangia electorate.
O’Neill has polled 25,377 votes so far and will need a total of 33,400+1 allowable votes to be declared re-elected on the first count.
That’s excluding the informal votes/ballot papers. Counting was proceeding last night on 58 boxes out of 114 so Mr O’Neill needs about 8000 votes to be declared.
By week’s end there should be two more declarations – in the Highlands region and New Guinea Islands – as counting for 102 of the 111 seats start while nine seats are still counting. The last 18 polling stations are due to close today after throughout Papua New Guinea as the National Election winds down.
Two seats have been declared, retained by the ruling People’s National Congress Party members James Marape in Tari-Pori, Hela Province, and Justin Tkatchenko for Moresby South yesterday.
People’s National Congress Party has candidates in the top three throughout the country in progressive tallies. National Alliance Party and Pangu Party are also doing well, especially in the Momase region while independents have made an impact.
THE Party has started on a slow mode as counting continues in 17 provinces.

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Experimental Seabed Mining and the Controversial Solwara 1 Project in Papua New Guinea

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign is a collaboration of organizations and citizens from Papua New Guinea, Australia and Canada concerned with the likely impacts of deep sea mining on marine and coastal ecosystems and communities.

Peter Neill – Director, World Ocean Observatory | Huffington Post | July 11, 2017

It has been some time since we’ve reflected on the issue of deep sea mining — the search for minerals of all types on the ocean floor. We have seen already how marine resources are being over-exploited — over-fishing by international fisheries being the most egregious example, mining for sand for construction projects and the creation of artificial islands, the exploitation of coral reefs and certain marine species for medical innovations and the next cure for human diseases based on understanding and synthesis of how such organisms function.

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign, an organization based in Australia and Canada, has been following the saga of Solwara 1, proposed by Nautilus Inc. for offshore Papua New Guinea that continues to seek financing year after year since 2011. The project is basically a kind of corporate speculation premised on the lucrative idea of the availability of such minerals conceptually in the region — indeed the company has declined to conduct a preliminary economic study or environmental risk assessment, the shareholders essentially engaged in a long odds probability wager comparable to those who invested in marine salvagers attempts to find and excavate “pay-ships” lost at sea with purported vast cargos of silver and gold. The idea that they should be required to justify their endeavors to governments, third-world or otherwise, or to coastwise populations whose livelihood and lives depend on a healthy ocean from which they have harvested for centuries, is anathema.

Deep Sea Mining recently reported on the recent Nautilus Annual General Meeting where CEO Michael Johnston was asked:

· Is it true that without the normal economic and feasibility studies, the economic viability of Solwara 1 is unknown?

· Is it true that the risk to shareholders of losing their entire investment in Nautilus is high and the potential returns promoted by Nautilus are entirely speculative?

· Is this why Nautilus is struggling to obtain the investment to complete the construction of its vessel and equipment?

According to the release, Johnston declined to have his responses recorded and evaded providing clear answers. He did, however, affirm the description accuracy of the Solwara 1 project in the Annual Information Forms as a ‘high’ and ‘significant’ risk.

Local communities are also not interested in the Nautilus experiment. In recent weeks, two large forums against the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in the Bismarck Sea have been held in New Ireland and East New Britain provinces of Papua New Guinea. Supported by the Catholic Bishops and Caritas Papua New Guinea , both forums called for the halt of the Solwara 1 project and a complete ban on seabed mining in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. Here are some comments from those meetings:

Patrick Kitaun, Caritas PNG Coordinator:

“The Bismarck Sea is not a Laboratory for the world to experiment with seabed mining. Our ocean is our life! We get all our basics from the ocean so we need to protect it. We will not allow experimental seabed mining in Papua New Guinea. It must be stopped and banned for good.”

Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors:

“Nautilus, we are not guinea pigs for your mining experiment! We in the Pacific are custodians of the world’s largest ocean. These oceans are important to us as sources of food and livelihoods. They are vital for our culture and our very identity. In New Ireland Province, we are only 25 km away from the Solwara 1 site. It is right in the middle of our traditional fishing grounds. We will stand up for our rights!”

Vicar General, Father Vincent Takin of the Diocese of Kavieng:

“In order, for any development to take place, the people must be the object of development and not subject to it. The people have not been fully informed about the impacts of Solwara 1 on the social, cultural, physical and spiritual aspects of their lives. Therefore they cannot give their consent.”

Nautilus Inc. does not appear to be major international energy company with the assets available to force this project forward as others might. The opposition is well organized and vocal with arguments and expectations that the company cannot overcome. We hope. As with offshore oil exploration alongshore and it the deep ocean, this project is isolated in an opposing political context and shifting market. It is not for this time, for these people in these places, who have no concern for the loss of the `stranded assets of invisible gamblers in the face of the gain of conserving and sustaining their ocean resources for local benefit and the future.

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Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Landowners shutdown Lihir airport

Gregory Moses | NBC News via PNGFacts | 29 May 2017

Landowners on Lihir, have threaten to shut down the Londolovit Airport today, over outstanding compensation demand of about K3bn, for more than 20 years.

Nimarmar Local Level Government Council Media Officer Tony Sapan, says the closure will affect the Lihir Mine’s Fly In Fly Out services, medicinal supply to the island, businesses, banks and emergencies if they occur during the closure.

“Ol papa giraun ting olsem company has used it long enough and they need to be compensated for it.

“Imas igat compensation agreement. The company has forgone meetings ol ibin plenim long toktok long dispela compensation.

“Na nau, failure blo ol ibai affectim mine, na the whole Lihir community.

“Ol (landowners) ibai planim gorgor long airport tomorrow.”(Monday 29.05)

Mr Sapan also says the landowners have set the April 15 as the deadline to talk about their compensation demand with the company, but this has lapsed and they now have opted to shut down the airport for an indefinite period.

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New Ireland refuses to sign Simberi MOA approved by NEC

State Solicitor’s office accused of dishonesty 

Sharon Lowa | Post Courier | May 22, 2017

The New Ireland provincial government has refused to sign the Simberi Gold Mine memorandum of agreement recently approved by the National Executive Council (NEC) in April.

Deputy governor and chairman for natural resources in the provincial executive council Ambrose Silul said they are sick and tired of being misled by the state team negotiating the new MoA for both Simberi and Lihir Gold Mines.

Mr Silul insists that the state keep its word, and until it does, the New Ireland government will not sign any new MoA.

The New Ireland team had been renegotiating the Simberi MoA for over four years and a provisional MoA had been agreed in 2013, but that it was conditional on approval by the PEC.

“Our team wrote to the state team and Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) on October 6, 2013 that the draft MoA must include the provisions approved by the New Ireland PEC on May 21, 2013.

“That includes increasing the rate of royalties from two percent (FOB) annual revenues to 10 percent, as well as similar increases in the special support grant and tax credit scheme,” Mr Silul said.

Mr Silul further stated that the state solicitor’s office agreed that the changes the New Ireland government wanted made to the MoA would be included in the draft to go to the NEC.

He said that in a meeting in April 2015 in Kavieng, the state solicitor agreed they would include New Ireland’s provisions in both the Lihir and Simberi MoAs and allow the NEC to make a final decision.

“All we are asking is that NEC – and not the state bureaucrats – decide on the merits of our suggestions. Instead, we have a bunch of bureaucrats making decisions that should be made by NEC.”

“We will not accept this dishonesty on the part of the state team,” Mr Silul said.

Mr Silul is calling on the mining minister to conduct an immediate investigation into this affair.

The MRA mining coordinators and the state solicitor’s office deliberately and willfully misled the NEC by submitting an MoA that did not include the provisions they promised would be included.

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Newcrest begins exploration on Tatau island

The National aka The Loggers Times | May 2, 2017

THE Newcrest Mining Limited is conducting exploration on Tatau Island in New Ireland for copper and gold deposits.
In its recently released quarterly report, it said exploration had begun on Tatau Island as part of Newcrest’s option and farm-in agreement with St Barbara Limited to look for copper-gold porphyry-related deposits.
Tatau is an island in the Tabar Group to the east of New Ireland and about a mile south of Simberi Island.
According to Newcrest, target generation exploration is presently being conducted over several priority porphyry target areas to define future drill targets.
In a recent interview, New Ireland Provincial Government Mining, Lands and Commerce director Brian Hosea told The National that the provincial government was in consultation with Mineral Resources Authority regarding the project.
“We are in consultation with MRA. That is still on the drawing board,” Hosea said.
“We need to have things in place like briefing the Governor (to see) where we want to go. We also need to have all agreements signed – landowner agreements, memorandum of agreements, integrated benefit packages to do with the project.”
The province has Newcrest’s Lihir gold mining project and St Barbara’s Simberi operation. Nautilus Minerals is also developing the first seabed mining project in the province.
Hosea had previously said NIPG had been working closely with local landowners as the province will now play host to three mining projects.
He said the provincial government is aware of the importance of local participation in the mining projects.

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Filed under Exploration, Papua New Guinea

Call to increase landowner royalties

lihir

Silul: ‘Newcrest has made K5 billion in profit from Lihir’

Post Courier | March 05, 2017

DEPUTY Governor of New Ireland Province Ambrose Silul has called for greater and more equitable distribution of wealth derived from resource projects in the country.

Mr Silul was responding to recent reports released by Australian miner-Newcrest Limited on royalty payments paid to the New Ireland government, Nimamar Local Level Government and the special lease landowners to the tune of K69.8 million in 2016.

Mr Silul said while this may seem like a lot of money, it is nothing compared to what the national government and the company are receiving.

“Newcrest has actually only operated the mine for six years, since late 2010.

“However, in the first five years, according to Newcrest’s own annual reports, the difference between the cost of production and the sale price of gold means they have made nearly K5 billion in profit.

“So during the time that the people of New Ireland were receiving only K37.6 million per year in royalties, Newcrest was making nearly a billion kina per year.

“That is over twenty-five times as much as the people of New Ireland,” he said.

Mr Silul who is also president of the Nimamar Local level Government said that at the same time “the National Government has been making over K300 million per year in various taxes, mining levies and other fees.

“This means National Government is making nearly ten times as much as the people from whom the wealth actually comes.”

He said it was high-time this trend changed.

“We need to increase royalties to be consistent with international practice.

“Royalties should be set at 10 percent of annual revenues.

“Special support grant should be increased from the current level of one-quarter of one percent to 10 percent.

The same with the tax credit scheme increase it from three-quarters of one percent of assessable income to 10 percent of assessable income.

“We are not doing this for the people of New Ireland alone.

“Once we get these increases we will share 20 percent of our total benefits with the non-mining provinces in the country.

“We think every mining province should take this approach.

“It will benefit all Papua New Guineans,” he said.

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Lihir could yet be million ounce gold mine: Biswas

Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas says the leNewcrest chief Sandeep Biswas has stressed he is more interested in value rather than volume.

Newcrest chief Sandeep Biswas has stressed he is more interested in value rather than volume.

A million ounces of gold a year sounds great for Newcrest shareholders – but what about the poor people of New Ireland, left behind as the quasi-colonial mining companies ship their gold? 

Peter Ker | Australian Financial Review

The man leading the turn-around of Australia’s biggest gold miner, Sandeep Biswas, has not given up hope that the Lihir gold mine may yet fulfil its potential to produce a million ounces of gold in a year.

The Newcrest chief executive has in recent years improved output from the PNG mine, which Newcrest acquired for $10.5 billion of scrip in 2010.

Located in the caldera of an extinct volcano, Lihir boasts one of the world’s largest gold deposits and was supposed to be producing more than a million ounces per year by 2012.

But Lihir has never lived up to those expectations, with annual production never getting close and reliability issues prompting $5.6 billion of asset impairments over the past five years.

But improvements have been seen in the 30 months since Mr Biswas took the reins at Newcrest; mill throughput has risen at Lihir by close to 30 per cent, plant availability has risen from just over 70 per cent to more than 80 per cent while all-in sustaining costs of production have fallen from $1201 per ounce in the December half of 2013 to $830 per ounce in fiscal 2016.

Lihir produced a record 900,034 ounces of gold in fiscal 2016, and official guidance for fiscal 2017 has been set at between 880,000 ounces and 980,000 ounces.

Mr Biswas rarely speaks about gold production targets, preferring instead to guide investors towards more controllable goals such as the volumes of ore put through the processing circuit at Lihir.

But he told The Australian Financial Review that producing 1 million ounces of gold from Lihir in a year could yet be achieved.

“If you took the plant up to 15 million tonnes to 17 million tonnes grinding rate, as long as your [gold] grade was in the high 2 per cent [range] then yes, it’s possible to get over a million ounces,” he said in a recent interview.

For comparison, Newcrest was due to be grinding at about 13 million tonnes per year by the end of 2016, 14 million tonnes by December 2017 and 15 million tonnes per year within five years.

But while 1 million ounces per year would be a major milestone for Lihir, it does not appear to be a driving ambition for Mr Biswas.

The Indian-born executive stressed he was more interested in value rather than volume, and under his stewardship Newcrest is taking a lower-cost development approach to Lihir that has seen its gold production volumes rise more slowly than originally anticipated.

Plans to be producing 1 million ounces at Lihir by 2012 implied an early development of a high-grade gold deposit called Kapit, but Mr Biswas has delayed the development of Kapit and studied ways to do it more economically.

“With the work we have done on developing the Kapit ore body, we have saved $1 billion on capex minimum which they would have had to spend under that plan,” he said.

“We have pushed that back, by the time we get to Kapit it will be 2025.

“Yes it [Kapit] has better [gold] grades, but you don’t want to spend a billion and half dollars going to get it, we would rather spend $200 or $300 million, which is the current plan.” 

“When you look at how much gold you produce you also have to look at how much capex and what your operating costs are. I think we’ve got a much more sustainable model.”

Newcrest is expected to publish its December-quarter production results on  January 30, before revealing half-year financial results on February 13.

Mr Biswas is scheduled to give an address to the Melbourne Mining Club on February 9.

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