Tag Archives: Papua New Guinea

RTG Joins Landowner Backed Consortium Proposal for Copper-Gold Panguna Project in Bougainville

RTG Mining | Stockhouse | 26 June, 2017

RTG Joins Landowner Backed Consortium Proposal in Respect of the Copper-Gold Panguna Project in Bougainville – Announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange

RTG Mining Inc. confirms recent press statements that it has been nominated as the development partner with the joint venture company of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”) and Central Exploration Pty Ltd (“Central”) in their proposal with respect to the redevelopment of the 1.5B tonne Copper-Gold Panguna Project located in the Central Region of the island of Bougainville, within the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea (“PNG”). RTG has subscribed US$0.75M into Central for a minority position in Central.  The proposal being led by the SMLOLA is a landowner initiative and will be subject to the success or otherwise of the SMLOLA in securing a role in the redevelopment of the mine.

This proposal is also, ultimately conditional upon the support of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (“ABG”) and others. RTG appreciates the trust and support the SMLOLA has shown the Company, recognising the community engagement track record and the development experience of the RTG management team, having successfully developed seven new mines in five different countries. RTG makes no representation that the SMLOLA led consortium proposal will be successful.  Both the show cause notice issued by the ABG to Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) in connection with the previous exploration permit, which expired in September 2016 and the application for extension of the term of the licence are still under review by the ABG.  The ABG has expressed its support for BCL

The members of the SMLOLA are the owners of the customary land which is the subject of the old BCL operated Panguna open pit mine area.  In implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a change in the mining law in 2014 resulted in the PNG ownership of mineral rights being expunged and the customary landowners becoming owners of the minerals within their land.  Accordingly, the SMLOLA own the minerals of the old Panguna Mine and are in control of access to their land, namely the Panguna pit.  The SMLOLA has stated that it will not grant access to their lands to BCL, a position they have held and expressed for an extended period of time. The Autonomous Region of Bougainville has gone through transformative changes over the last couple of years and has recognised the reopening of the Panguna Mine is an important economic initiative for all Bougainvilleans, which is supported strongly by the SMLOLA.

RTG will fully respect any rights of BCL and has agreed to act as the development partner should the SMLOLA be successful in their proposal.  RTG believes that the SMLOLA led consortium could provide a constructive and valuable contribution to resolving outstanding issues between all parties, with their proposal including the development of Panguna on a staged basis, starting at an initial targeted 15Mtpa plant size before then optimising the processing plant, subject to completion of a Feasiblity Study.  This will enhance the prospects of a successful referendum on Independence for Bougainville and much earlier access to financial rewards for all Bougainvilleans. There are strong parallels between this proposal and the redevelopment of the Masbate Gold Mine in the Phillipines, which was successfully developed by the RTG Management team.  The proposal also includes a Bougainville Redevelopment Fund to assist the landowners and ABG in implementing much needed social and infrastructure programs to enhance the livelihoods of all those in and around Panguna.

RTG’s three largest long term shareholders, whose publicly reported parent company net worth is in the order of US$30 billion, have expressed support for entering into the Panguna redevelopment proposal should it be successful.

ABOUT RTG MINING INC

RTG Mining Inc. is a mining and exploration company listed on the main board of the Toronto Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange.  RTG is focused on developing the high grade copper/gold/magnetite Mabilo Project and advancing exploration on the highly prospective Bunawan Project, both in the Philippines, while also identifying major new projects which will allow the Company to move quickly and safely to production.

RTG has an experienced management team (previously responsible for the development of the Masbate Gold Mine in the Philippines through CGA Mining Limited), and has B2Gold as one of its major shareholders in the Company. B2Gold is a member of both the S&P/TSX Global Gold and Global Mining Indices.

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Experts Warn that Seabed Mining Will Lead to ‘Unavoidable’ Loss of Biodiversity

Tam Warner Minton/Flickr/CC-by-2.0

Daniel Oberhaus | Motherboard | June 27 2017

Seabed mining companies are going to wipe out species we don’t even know exist yet.

An international group of 15 marine scientists and legal scholars published a letter on Monday warning of the dire effects that the nascent seabed mining industry could have on bottom dwelling marine life.

The letter, published in Nature Geoscience, is the latest in a series of increasingly desperate pleas from marine scientists to pump the brakes on mining the seafloor until marine scientists are able to get a better idea of what the effects this industry will have on this woefully understudied area of the planet.

“Unlike on land, most of the biodiversity and ecosystem function in the deep sea is poorly understood,” Cindy Dover, a professor of biological oceanography at Duke University and one of the signatories to the letter, told me via email. “We have learned that the deep sea is as exquisitely diverse as any bit of shallow marine or terrestrial environment. What we don’t understand is how much we can degrade deep-sea ecosystems before we reach tipping points, where the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function affects the health of the ecosystem beyond levels that are acceptable to society.”

As such, Van Dover and the other signatories on the letter call for the International Seabed Authority, the UN-sanctioned regulatory body for the ocean’s floor, to recognize the risk posed by deep sea mining and communicate this risk to the public at large.

“We ask that biodiversity loss resulting from deep-sea mining be recognized and be part of the public discourse about mining,” Van Dover said. “The scientific community has been invited by the ISA to provide recommendations on responsible environmental practices for deep-sea mining. Our peer-reviewed letter responds to this invitation.”

Although the deep sea (defined as anything below a depth of about 650 feet) accounts for roughly two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, we know remarkably little about what goes on down there. Dozens of new species are routinely discovered during forays to the bottom of the ocean and the deep sea ecosystem isn’t well understood.

Nevertheless, the deep sea has become the site of a new gold rush in recent years. The discovery of a wealth of precious minerals such as nickel and cobalt, in addition to oil and potentially lifesaving molecules have incentivized seabed mining operations to begin exploratory missions to the bottom of the ocean to start staking claims.

To get an idea of how this industry is developing, the authors of the recent letter point out that in 2001 there were only six contracts for deep sea mining operations. By the end of 2017, however, there will be 27 deep sea mining contracts. Of these, 17 will be in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, a region of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Central America. One of the proposed mining contracts alone covers 32,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Maine.

Although some proponents of deep sea mining argue that the effects of this industry can be offset by taking more environmentally friendly measures elsewhere, such as building artificial reefs, the authors of the letter are calling BS.

“The argument that you can compensate for the loss of biological diversity in the deep sea with gains in diversity elsewhere is so ambiguous as to be scientifically meaningless,” Craig Smith, a professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii, said in a statement.

“This is like saving apple orchards to protect oranges,” Van Dover added.

For now, these contracts remain exploratory as the ISA struggles to establish a deep sea regulatory regime. But as the letter’s authors rightfully worry, it will be hard to establish effective seabed regulations since so little is known about the ocean floor.

“The ISA has begun working on regional environmental protection plans that include identifying networks of Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEI) within regions of interest to contractors,” Van Dover told me. “Mining and mining impacts would be excluded in these APEIs. Science-based recommendations for the design of these APEIs call for them to include representative habitats in the region.”

Until these regulations are in place, however, the authors of the letter call for the ISA to acknowledge that deep sea mining will certainly be harmful to deep ocean biodiversity. According to the authors of the letter, this damage will likely be irrevocable. Even more frightening is that we’d likely never know the full extent of the damage because marine scientists won’t have the opportunity to establish sufficient baseline measurements before the mining frenzy begins.

“I do not know if responsible seabed mining is possible, given knowledge gaps in our understanding of deep-sea biodiversity and function, and the possibility that the cost of good, science-based environmental management and monitoring may be too high at present relative to the value of the product,” Van Dover said. “There are ways to fill these knowledge gaps, but they require time and investment.”

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Over 80pc mining activities cover PNG

Loop PNG | June 25, 2017

Mining exploration activities in Papua New Guinea cover over 80 percent of the country, according to the PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Report 2013.

This is expected to further enhance and strengthen Papua New Guinea’s position as one of the top twenty gold and copper producing countries in the world.

“The country is rich in minerals. It ranks in the top 20 world gold and copper producers and also produces silver, nickel and cobalt,” the report said.

“Mining in PNG dates back to 1888, with the modern mining industry developing in the mid-1960s.

“During the reporting period, eight mines were operating in Papua New Guinea, distributed over a number of provinces,”

These include Ok Tedi, Porgera, Lihir, Hidden Valley, Ramu Nickel and Cobalt, Tolokuma, Simberi and Sinivit.

This figure has been increased to nine with the inclusion of Eddie Creek in the 2014 Report.

“New Projects in development include the deep-sea Solwara 1 (owned by Nautilus Minerals), Frieda (PanAust) and Wafi-Golpu (Harmony/Newcrest). Exploration activity is intensive covering over 80 percent of the country,” the report said.

It said mining companies active in PNG include international companies and a number of junior companies together with many small scale miners.

“Some 60 to 80 thousand people are estimated to be engaged in informal alluvial/small scale mining,” the report said.

Head of PNG EITI National Secretariat, Lucas Alkan, said promising times are ahead for the country in terms of the enormous benefit that the mining industry would bring to the economy.

“At PNGEITI, we are excited that we are already playing our part in promoting accountability and transparency in the way the government, companies and landowners manage proceeds from these projects – through the annual EITI reporting process,” Alkan said.

“We hope to see more cooperation from all sectors of the economy so that we can produce comprehensive and timely information as we move forward in this journey.

“Through our reporting process, we will try to get to the bottom of the payment mechanics so that correct information on what the government is receiving, the landowners are receiving and other related information, like mining licences, are accessible to the public for transparency and accountability’s sake.” 

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Proposed sea bed mining project in PNG in breach of International laws

NBC News via PNG Today | 24 June, 2017

The proposed sea bed mining project in Papua New Guinea will be in breach of International laws.

Catholic Professionals Society of PNG Executive and Environmental Lawyer Camillus Narokobi highlighted this recently, saying that there will be a breach to the freedom of navigation by international vessels if the project becomes a reality.

The project solwara 1, to be developed by Canadian Company, Nautilus Minerals in the New Ireland and East New Britain seas is set to begin in 2018.

“The area that is being targeted for sea bed mining falls within our jurisdiction, it is an area that falls under international law.

The passage between Rabaul and New Ireland is called St George Passage.

That is regarded as an International Strait, it is one of the seven international straits Papua New Guinea has, it is all within the Bismarck Archipelago.

And so both the New Ireland and East New Britain Provincial Governments have a right to say what has to be done or what should not be done.

And International rights include freedom of navigation, by ships and submarines that can come through those waters without giving prior notice.

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Women in Porgera impacted with violence

Grace Auka Salmang | Post Courier | June 22, 2017

Family Sexual Violence is one of the most critical issues that women in the extractive area of Porgera are faced with.

Chair of Family Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) of Enga  and  founder of Voice for Enga Women Association Everlyne Sap revealed this when speaking on the sub theme: Leadership, gender equality and women empowerment for equitable service in extractive resource areas: Porgera in Enga Province at the Consultative Implementation & Monitoring Council (CIMC) National Development Forum yesterday at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby.

According to Ms Sap, Porgera is a district of about 65,000 people and 50 percent of women about half of the population are impacted by mining activities just like in any other extractive resource areas in PNG.

“Of the many direct and indirect issues related to mining, Family Sexual Violence or Gender Based Violence is one major issue affects the lives of women and families at different degrees.

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Panguna mine protesters “not landowners”

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | 22 June, 2017 

The Vice President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Raymond Masono has expressed disgust at the action of those calling themselves hardliners that recently prevented the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

The signing scheduled for June 16 2017 was to be done between the ABG and the Panguna Mine Affected Landowners (PMAL) and other stakeholders to the Panguna Mine.

Mr Masono said the signing would have started the process of removing impediments to reopening the Panguna Mine but the ABG team was prevented from travelling to Panguna for the signing by the group opposed to the reopening of the mine and Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL’s) return to redevelop the mine.

He said Bougainville is probably one of a few places in this country where individuals or groups disagreeing with a particular government policy can stop a legitimate government from carrying out its mandated duties for the common good of its citizens.

Mr Masono said this does not auger well for good governance, the rule of law and respect for lawful authority, that are important benchmarks in the ratification outcome of the referendum by the national government and the international community who are watching our every actions.

“What kind of signal are we sending to the United Nations and the rest of the international community with regards to Bougainville’s unity prior to the conduct of the referendum, as well as ratification by PNG and the support of the UN and the international community of the outcome,” Mr Masono asked.

The Vice President said it must also be understood that those opposed to the reopening of Panguna and the return of BCL are not landowners.

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Bougainville protestors given two weeks for re-think

Radio New Zealand | 20 June, 2017

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville says it has given people opposed to a possible re-opening of the Panguna copper mine two weeks to re-think their opposition.

This comes after what Vice President Raymond Masono said was a few dozen people who last Friday blocked access roads for a government delegation wanting to sign a memorandum of agreement with Panguna landowners at Panguna in Central Bougainville.

The government says re-opening the mine, which was at the heart of the Bougainville civil war, is critical to the province developing some economic viability ahead of an independence vote in June 2019.

Mr Masono said the night before, government officials spent hours explaining to the protesters the importance of re-opening Panguna.

But he said Friday’s cancellation of the MOA signing was just a temporary setback.

“When they are ready, they will come to the ABG, (Autonomous Bougainville Government), and then we will organise for the signing ceremony for the MOA,” Mr Masono said.

“We consider this non-signing of the MOA as a temporary setback.”

The protesters, mostly women, said they are opposed to any discussion on a Panguna re-opening before the independence vote.

They also say they are adamantly opposed to Bougainville Copper Ltd, which used to run Panguna, having anything to do with a new operation.

BCL used to be majority owned by Rio Tinto but last year the multi national walked away from the mine and the associated demands for compensation and rehabilitation, giving its shares to the Bougainville and PNG Governments.

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