Tag Archives: Papua New Guinea

Environmental failure at Wild Dog mine

Traditional Baining Fire Dance

Alois Balar | Post Courier | 23 April 2019

Beyond reasonable doubt, the element of environmental risk was present in both the exploration and development stages of the Wild Dog mine.

This mine was developed at the very summit of the highest peak in ENB with the presence of this significant environmental risk, and to the detriment of the livelihoods of the people at the foot of Mt Sinivit as well as within its vicinity and right down to the coast. What rational justification was used by the (relevant government agencies) and the landowners to agree for the mine to be developed given the geographical risk to the river systems?

Mineral deposits in the mining lease area comprised of the oxide and the sulphide zones both of which were not technically viable to be developed at such steep slopes with very high loss of height. Juxtaposed against these is a high mountain backdrop (with huge physical divides) that forms the catchment of the river systems on all sides. These areas contain critical ecosystems and life support systems. The mine heap-leach areas were pitched on narrow patches of no more than 20sq m, at most, in both zones, with no fenders, that were susceptible to climate extremes.

This mine was developed on “persistence in error” by the developer who refused to draw inference from negative signs and technicalities. The developer should have waylaid the “sunk-cost effect” in favour of the critical environment.

It is very disturbing that the (relevant government agencies) have been sitting on this environmental problem since the developer abandoned the mine during its operation.

The cyanide heap-leach method should never have been allowed to be used up there by the developer. The developer abandoned huge open pits, heaps, and the ponds of cyanide which are a risk to the whole environment. Some of these heaps and ponds have cracks caused by earthquakes.

The recent rains caused the cyanide vets to overflow into the drains that fed the sources of streams and creeks that tributed to the two large rivers of Nengmutka and Rapmarini which are major tributaries of Waragoi river.

Once the toxics leak, it can result in total collapse of ecosystems and life support systems that are being used by the people(I don’t want to mention the deadly strength of cyanide against the volume of water in the rivers) . This mine was at a critical location and dangerously and carelessly developed out of economic greed.

Five long years have lapsed after the developer left with evidently nothing done to date to contain the leakage risk. These relevant government agencies have just woken up from their slumber to sanction a disaster and environmental assessment to be carried out.

The funds being spent on rebuilding the road up to the mine to enable the assessment to be carried out could have been spent on other impassable roads in the Bainings).Is this how long bureaucratic red tape can last in our government system, even if it meant so many people dead from a cyanide disaster over five years?

This kind of irrational behaviour by govt agencies could prove fatal for the communal environment and costly to the lives of the people. The lack of action by government agencies has resulted in people(men, women, and children) risking their lives by going up there to the mine site(after the developer left) to take whatever is useful to them, thus having direct contact with cyanide and
other toxic chemicals.

Leach pad liners were even taken by people, posing serious risks to themselves! The government’s complacency and ignorance of problem risks and for taking no leakage deterrent measures conjures up the reality of its ignorance of the height of thresholds for pain of the people and the environment when inflicted for economic reasons other than for their own benefit and upkeep.

Government agencies must ensure economic development is balanced against the natural environment, not the other way around! This is an aspect of sustainable development!.

The problem at Wild Dog is not ISEP, rather, it is everybody’s. And I’d rather the so-called Sinivit Mine Landowners Association stops talking about mine reopening and look more closely at ensuring the sustainability of the sources that support the livelihoods of its members and make sure these sources are not compromised.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Landowner Calls For Investigation Into Warden’s Hearing

Government Urged To Intervene.

Yombi Kep | Post Courier | April 17, 2019

A landowner in Porgera is calling for investigation into the Mining Wardens Hearing held at Paiam Sports Oval in Porgera, Enga Province on Tuesday 2nd April 2019.

Landowner and former member for Lagaip-Porgera, Opis Papo is supporting the allegations made by Justice Foundation Chairman Jonathan Paraia that the illegal miners were unduly influenced to support Barrick Niugini Limited’s application to renew their SML and other tenements.

Mr Papo made the call after reading a report in Post Courier on the 15th of April 2019 at page 25 titled “Barrick refutes claim”.

According to the report Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL), the majority owner and operator of the Porgera gold mine has dismissed an allegation describing it as entirely untrue that it supports illegal mining. Barrick further said they did not condone illegal mining in any form and has consistently sought in cooperation and partnership with the government to discourage people from engaging in this activity which is not only unlawful but extremely hazardous.

However, Mr Papo said that even though everyone in Porgera including Jonathan Paraia and himself do not support illegal mining in Porgera, they are genuinely concerned about the conduct of Barrick in appreciating the illegal miners at the recent wardens hearing at Porgera.

“The illegal miners support for Barrick was never an isolated event, it was done in the full knowledge and active support of Barrick, whereby in front of thousands of people, the media and government officials, the Barrick’s senior manager, Timothy Andambo publically thanked and appreciated the support of the illegal miners in their quest to renew their license to mine for another 20 years.”

He added that the Government must now conduct an investigation into this incident as it has been spending millions of kina since 2009, to police illegal mining in Porgera and developer Barrick has undermined firstly, the government’s costly effort and secondly such conduct may have breached relevant PNG laws.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Coal too dirty for our good

Rugeley power station in the UK is being demolished in phases until 2021. Coal plants are being retired at a record pace globally. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

The National aka The Loggers Times | April 15, 2019

COAL is a cheap hydrocarbon fuel and can be used in the production of goods and services, such as electricity.

However, this cheap hydrocarbon fuel is also the No.1 cause of environmental pollution and other issues.

Coal mining and its use in Papua New Guinea should be banned.

The following direct and indirect costs of coal use support the ban.

  • Coal is an unsustainable source of energy and it cannot be replaced once it has been used;
  • carbon emissions from mine blasts and machinery used in mining coal will cause irreparable environmental damage;
  • environmental damage and carbon and heat emissions from coal mining and the industrial use of coal will contribute to global warming and exacerbate the problems we are facing with adverse weather conditions and rising sea levels globally;
  • adverse weather conditions damage roads and highways which are expensive to build, repair and maintain. They also cause major traffic delays at sea ports and airports affecting international trade and the movement of people locally and internationally;
  • adverse weather conditions are causing extensive damage to food gardens and cities and towns, as well as dislocating residents of cities, towns and villages, causing hardship and inconvenience;
  • it is costly to provide assistance to people affected by natural disasters, which are being made worse by global warming;
  • coal mining will result in the loss of the value of forests to local communities because when communities lose their forests they also lose food, shelter, and other things they depend on as people of the land; and,
  • Smog produced from the industrial use of coal in cities will increase respiratory and lung problems. Of course, the medical cost of treating the diseases is another consideration against the use of coal. PNG has so much natural resources that can be harnessed to produce cheaper, dependable and clean electricity. Coal is not one of them.

2 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Outrage: deep-sea mining poses an existential threat

Seabed mining machines

Stephanie Hessler | The Architectural Review | 11 April, 2019

The greed for ever more and ever cheaper minerals drives seabed mining – but at what cost?

At the height of the Cold War, in a top-secret mission titled Project Azorian, the CIA tried to retrieve Soviet submarine K-129, which had sunk in 1968. Under the auspices of the billionaire Howard Hughes, in 1974 a US ship was sent to recover the vessel with the hope of gathering valuable intelligence. The Agency needed a cover-up story to deflect from its actual target, so the public was told that Hughes’ ship was a commercial deep-sea mining vessel. After a series of mishaps, however, journalists broke the story in 1975, and the CIA aborted the mission.

It is no surprise that a cover-up story was used to distract the public from the actual aims of the mission. Misinformation is often paired with greed. The greed for ever more and ever cheaper minerals, used in devices such as the computer I am typing on, but also in ‘green’ technologies, drives seabed mining. Today, the minerals ostensibly targeted by the CIA mission have become subject to real prospecting. In oceanic resource grab, imperial and colonial asymmetric power relations of the past are reinforced. And so is the ecological and social havoc it will cause. –

The scientific and technocratic apparatus surrounding the world’s hydrosphere is largely governed by research institutes and companies of the Global North, which have at their command the know-how, technologies and financial means to engage in these highly complex and costly projects. The insights emerging from research at, for example, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, are employed by businesses such as the Canada-registered international company Nautilus Minerals. ‘The first company to commercially explore the seafloor for massive sulfide systems, a potential source of high grade copper, gold, zinc and silver’, as its website reads, Nautilus struck a deal with the Papua New Guinea government to mine minerals in the country’s national waters.

Mining in international waters, beyond a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles or up to the margin of the continental shelf, is unlikely to begin in the near future. However, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body to administrate resource extractions in international waters, has started distributing claims to prospecting countries such as France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Russia and the UK, as well as the Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tonga. The claimed areas are in the Clarion- Clipperton Zone spanning 4.5 million km2 in the North Pacific Ocean, an area deemed to hold vast and unmatched potential for minerals. As of today, the holders are entitled to explore, not yet exploit. Yet this is the first move towards extraction in the so-called ‘Area’ beyond national jurisdiction defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as the ‘common heritage of humankind’.

Long-term effects of deep-sea mining are devastating. Extractivist enterprises are likely to cause unprecedented damage to marine environments in directly affected zones as well as in neighbouring areas. In Papua New Guinea, where extraction in national waters is about to commence, land-based mining is already threatening ecosystems, lifestyles and health as well as economic and political self-determination. The deal with Nautilus Minerals bears the promise of short-term profit, but neglects the long-term ecological, social and economic consequences. It demonstrates the foreign dependency of economically deprived regions such as Papua New Guinea, pointing to the distributed complex of infrastructural and legal systems that the architect and researcher Keller Easterling has called ‘extrastatecraft’.

Not only resource extraction, but also tensions caused by territorial claims today gain further urgency. As sea levels rise, the baselines of island states such as Kiribati face dramatic change. International bodies discuss whether baselines should be frozen and, if so, when to set the starting date. This not only affects future access to essential foods such as fish, but also raises questions of nationhood and land rights. Does a country with no surface area above water cease to exist? What happens to the spiritual legacy, the graves and sacred sites, if they are submerged in water and disappear?

Deep-sea exploration and exploitation prospects utilise tropes reminiscent of the ‘new frontier’ rhetoric in previous imperialist endeavours. Using concepts of distance – often employed in colonial projects and environmental extraction alike – seabed mining will supposedly take place ‘far away’: deep below the ocean surface and in geographically remote areas. Clearly, the oceans are an intricately connected complex ecological system, and impacts in the seabed will not remain isolated and contained. And, importantly, such viewpoints are blatantly Eurocentric, begging the question: remote for whom? Technologies such as underwater cameras and scuba diving equipment have made what lies below the ocean surface visualisable, revealing the diversity of subaquatic life. This could contribute to the protection of the oceans.

Yet as depictions of the sea have moved from the impenetrable surface of a monstrous Leviathan to a space that can be seen, studied and conquered, techno-scientific advancements have also contributed to its exploitation. As anthropogenic actions affect ecosystems above and below water, often with the aim to extract resources and ameliorate human livelihoods, these projects deplete rather than augment, and close in rather than expand life worlds.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights

Donald calls on govt to review oil, gas act

The National aka The Loggers Times | April 11, 2019

NORTH Fly MP James Donald, pictured, has called on the Government to review the Oil and Gas Act before it signs agreements on petroleum resource development.

Donald said certain provisions of the Oil and Gas Act 1998 did not serve or protect the interests of Papua New Guineans, especially the project area landowners, and should be amended.

For example, he said the legislation failed to provide for the landowners, provincial governments and local level governments to be involved in the consultations and negotiations right up to the finalisation of the agreement.

Donald said they were key stakeholders even though they only owned a 2 per cent stake in equity when it came to benefits distribution.

“The landowners are given 2 per cent under the current act, which is less when what they should be rightfully getting – 10 to 12 per cent equity or more,” Donald said.

“So really when you look at it closely, it (the current Act) is of no real benefit to Papua New Guinea landowners, the host provincial governments and local level governments.”

He said the 2 per cent equity for landowners should be increased.

“Why continue to keep a law that does not serve our people’s interest?” Donald said.

He called on the ministers for petroleum and energy to work on amending certain sections of the legislation before going ahead with agreements on gas development. He said if not amended, the current legislation would only cause problems for future projects.

“In my view, our government should review and amend the law to give better deal for our people in terms of resource ownership by law because they deserve better from their government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Donald has written to the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission to support him in sponsoring a Private Member’s bill to review and amend certain provisions of the Oil and Gas Act.

1 Comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Kikori MP opposes coal mining

MP is against coal mining and has no interest in having it in the Kikori District

Loop Business | April 11, 2019

The Member for Kikori Open has expressed disgust and total dissatisfaction with the manner in which Mayur Resources has failed to consult him or his office regarding their coal development ideas in his district.

Soroi Eoe, who is also Minister for Community Development, Youth & Religion, said since Mayur Resources began operations in country and more so in their plans for the Kikori District, in Gulf Province, “the company hasn’t initiated any dialogue with my office nor had the courtesy to consult me on my views regarding coal development”.

“The cheap energy argument pushed by proponents (including national politicians) for coal development in my district need to be weighed against other relatively cleaner and healthier options that are available – alternative energy sources that my District is richly blessed with, such as: Small- Medium Hydro, Wind and Solar energy,” said the MP in a statement.

“Furthermore, on behalf of my people and the State, I am involved right now in the process of and negotiating a decent DMO (Domestic Market Obligation) component in the Papua LNG project agreement and I cannot entertain coal development for energy use at the same time on exactly the same strip of land. This makes little sense.

“I am against coal mining and have no interest in having the project in the Kikori District.”

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea minister resigns over vast gas contract

One of Asia’s most impoverished nations, Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources including large gas fields.

AFP | Daily Mail |11 April 2019 

Papua New Guinea’s finance minister resigned on Thursday, days after the country signed a multi-billion dollar gas contract with energy majors Total and ExxonMobil.

James Marape, who also leads the government in parliament, resigned citing the failure of the government to ensure national firms and locals benefit from the contract.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced the $13 billion project that includes the extraction, pipelines and an upgraded LNG facility to ship the gas overseas.

The leading companies involved are France’s Total, US firm ExxonMobil and Oil Search, a firm partially owned by the Papua New Guinea government.

Peter O’Neill and James Marape in happier times

“This decision is not easy to make,” Marape said in a statement obtained by AFP, adding that trust between him and the prime minister was at its “lowest.”

“Whilst we don’t have any personal differences, we do differ on some work and policy related matters,” he said, citing the need for more local “participation in our gas, oil sector” and mining industry.

Marape’s departure could prompt further cabinet resignations that are problematic for the government and may spur local protests against the gas projects.

He represents a district in Hela Province that an oil pipeline traverses.

The project would almost double Papua New Guinea’s gas exports, but local communities have complained bitterly about not getting benefit from similar deals in the past.

One of Asia’s most impoverished nations, Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources including large gas fields.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea