Tag Archives: Papua New Guinea

Call to implement advice in EITI report

The National aka The Loggers Times | May 22, 2017

GOVERNMENT agencies responsible for the mineral and petroleum sectors have been urged to implement a Cabinet decision to implement the recommendations in the first PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Report.
The call came from the EITI secretariat following Cabinet’s directive last week that the recommendations based on the 2013 fiscal year be implemented.
The agencies include the Department of Petroleum and Energy, Mineral Resource Development Company, the three Kumul enterprises, Auditor-General, State Solicitor, Mineral Resource Authority and the departments of Finance and Treasury.
Head of Secretariat Lucas Alkan said the onus was now on the State agencies to act.
“It is important that we take action on the report recommendations now to validate the EITI candidate status early next year.
“It is only through these efforts that we will be seen as making meaningful progress to meeting global best practice in managing our resource wealth.
“And PNG can be accredited as an EITI member country by EITI International.”
The Petroleum and Energy minister is required “to immediately implement a reliable electronic registry to supersede the current paper ledger system”.
The minister responsible for the Kumul Consolidated Holdings Limited is to ensure it participates in the EITI process and regularly reports to the EITI process the State’s share/ interest in the mining and petroleum sectors it manages under the General Business Trust.
Alkan said similar directions were given to Finance Minister and Treasurer to make sure information on fiscal and finance data were conveniently available to help in the EITI reporting process.

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BRA unites as Bougainville waits for referendum

Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters look down on the Panguna mine in 1996

The National aka The Loggers Times | May 19, 2017
FACTIONS of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army have signed an agreement to work together as the province looks ahead to the 2019 referendum.
Hundreds of people yesterday witnessed a reconciliation event at the Arawa Independence Oval in Buka.
The BRA factions signed a memorandum of joint commitment to work together toward the Bougainville referendum.
On Monday, a reconciliation ceremony was also held at the Roreinang United Church Mission ground. It was where the A company broke away from the rest of the army to form Me’ekamui in 1997.
On Tuesday, there was another reconciliation ceremony held in Panguna. The events were witnessed by officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the people of Bougainville.
ABG Minister for the Department of Peace Agreement and Implementation Albert Punghau said the unification of the BRA factions was vital for the region if it wanted to achieve the referendum.
Former BRA Chief of Defence Ishmael Toroama said it was a day to be united and to remember “loved ones we lost”.
“This is the day when the Government declared the state of emergency.
“Today we stand and remember our loved ones during the civil war in Bougainville.
“We remember that we fought to take care of our people and our resources,” Toroama said.

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Local firm gets mining licence

The National aka The Loggers Times | May 18, 2017

A LANDOWNER company in Enga has been granted seven alluvial mining licence leases by the Mineral Resources Authority.
It allows the Koekam PM Holdings Ltd in the Kompiam-Ambum district to engage exploration companies on their tribal land.
Company chairman Peter Malix, while thanking the MRA for granting the licence, said it had taken a long time and resources to finally receive the mining licence.
He thanked Mining Minister Byron Chan, the Mineral Resources Authority and those who had done a lot so that the landowner company “can have a say in the development of resources in our own land”.
The licence will allow investment in development of the mineral-rich Koekam area where alluvial mining activities are on a small scale.
“Now we have the five-year mining leases,” Malix said.
“I appeal to people from the five council wards to work together so that we can get maximum benefit from the mining development,”
The impact areas will cover Poreyalin, Aiyal, Malipin, Liu-Tip and the Kukin-Kalimb tribe from the Kompiam Local Level Government.
Alonge Alupi from Koekam said he was happy that they would now look for investors to develop the alluvial mining.

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Papua New Guinea moves to launch new coal mining industry

In 2006, a young girl walks between coconut palms on the coastline of Puil Island, part of the Carteret Islands, where rising sea levels eroded much of the coastlines and contaminated crops and freshwater. In 2009, evacuation began to nearby Bougainville Island. Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Greenpeace.

Catherine Wilson | Mongabay | 16 May 2017

Recent plans call for both coal mining and coal-fired electricity generation, raising questions about the government’s commitments to climate change action and leadership.

  • Two years ago, the Papua New Guinea government allocated $3 million for research into the viability of coal extraction.
  • An Australian company plans to build three mixed coal power generation plants in the country.
  • Proponents argue affordable and reliable electricity is needed to boost economic growth, while opponents cite environmental risks including the threat of climate change and rising sea levels.
  • Analysts also question how much urban-based power plants will raise electrification rates, since most un-electrified households are in rural areas that cannot easily be connected to electrical grids.

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government is actively pursuing the potential of developing a coal mining industry for the first time in the country’s history. Two years ago, it channeled 10 million kina (US$3million) to its Mineral Resources Authority for research into the viability of coal extraction. Now, an Australian company engaged in exploration is proposing to build three mixed coal power generation plants in the cities of Port Moresby, Lae and Madang, citing the need for affordable and reliable electricity to boost economic growth.

But environmental science experts and civil society groups are concerned about the potential environmental and climate impacts of developing a domestic coal industry, and the risk of undermining the country’s commitments to climate change action and leadership.

“It is no secret that the first ever climate change refugees in the world are from Papua New Guinea,” declared Dagia Aka, member of the youth climate change movement, 350 PNG.

In 2009 residents of the Carteret Islands in the far east of Papua New Guinea were forced to begin migration to nearby Bougainville Island after rising sea levels and the contamination of crops and freshwater sources rendered their island homes uninhabitable.

“Mining ventures in Papua New Guinea have a dark history of destroying the environment around them and there has been a failure to put measures in place to avoid such [damage],” Aka continued.

“Given the overall assessment of PNG’s energy policy and its natural resources, it is important not to develop the coal mining industry,” Chalapan Kaluwin, head of environmental science and geography and director of the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Papua New Guinea, told Mongabay.

“The sustainability of other energy sources, such as geothermal and renewable energy, including wind, solar and waves in the country, is significant. Coal mining has far more adverse negative impacts on the overall sustainability of PNG, its landowners and long-term health of its communities.”

Exploration underway

While three international companies — Waterford, Pacific Mining Partners and Mayur Resources — are currently engaged in coal exploration in PNG, the Department of Petroleum and Energy has yet to report the granting of any coal mining leases.

But Brisbane-based Mayur Resources, which is exploring for coal in the southern Gulf Province and claims to have discovered extensive reserves, is already planning to build three urban-based mixed coal electricity generation plants.

“The first project to build an Enviro Energy Park (EEP) at Lae with 2MW solar and 2x 30MW conventional generation fueled by domestic coal and PNG renewable biomass is in a very advanced stage waiting only the conclusion of a Power Purchase Agreement with PNG Power,” Paul Mulder, Managing Director of Mayur Resources told Mongabay.

He said the project already had environmental approval from the government’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), which was granted in June last year.

While Papua New Guinea does not yet have coal mines, it has already faced severe environmental impacts from mines, such as this open-pit gold mine in the country’s Western Province. Photo by Glen Barry/Greenpeace.

PNG’s extractive industries: costs and benefits

PNG, with major reserves of gold, copper, nickel, silver, oil and gas, has been a natural resources-dependent economy since Independence from Australia in 1975. The mineral resources sector alone accounts for more than one-third of government tax revenue. In 2013, taxes on the extractive industry amounted to US$292 million. From 2011-2013, it contributed an average 15.6 percent annually to the country’s GDP.

Coal, which remains one of the cheapest available sources of energy and fuel, drove industrialization and modernization in Europe and North America. But the environmental impacts of coal mining include the depletion of forest cover, air and water pollution, and contribution to global warming through the release of methane, a greenhouse gas, from natural coal seams. Burning coal to generate electricity produces carbon dioxide and oxides of sulfur and nitrogen, further contributing to the greenhouse effect.

This is a major concern for small Pacific Island developing states which are disproportionately exposed to climate change, whether in the form of extreme weather or rising sea levels.

In April last year, in line with the forceful advocacy by many Pacific Island leaders for industrialized nations to reduce their carbon footprint, Charles Lepani, PNG’s High Commissioner to Australia, publicly called on the Australian Government to downsize its coal mining industry in light of the Paris Climate Agreement and its goals.

Australia produced an estimated 16.3 metric tons of carbon emissions per capita in 2013, compared to 0.8 tons per capita in PNG, the most populous Pacific Island nation of 7.6 million people.

Forest lining the Bairaman River in PNG. New Guinea Island has some of the world’s largest and most biodiverse remaining tropical forests. Photo by Paul Hilton/Greenpeace.

“To cry foul to the major contributors to the fossil fuel industry and climate change, yet participate in something that will only make matters worse for us definitely does not paint a good picture,” Dagia Aka responded. “Pacific Island countries have a moral responsibility to take a lead with the Paris agreement simply because we are the ones facing the worst effects of climate change at this point in time.”

Other regional governments have also expressed concerns about coal mining. In 2015 leaders of Pacific Smaller Island States — comprising the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau and Tuvalu — issued the Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change which calls for “a global moratorium on all new coal mines.”

In countries across the region, higher sea levels and temperatures have led to the flooding of villages, coastal erosion, deteriorating crop yields and freshwater supplies. Affected communities have been forced to relocate in the Carteret Islands in PNG, Nuatamba and Nararo Islands in the Solomon Islands and Vanua Levu in Fiji.

Internal migration is a very expensive undertaking for Pacific Island governments presiding over small economies and restricted budgets already over-stretched with a wide range of human and socioeconomic development goals.

And the burden of adapting to climate change is only forecast to increase.  In PNG alone, annual mean and extremely high daily temperatures, ocean acidification and sea levels are all predicted to rise this century, reports the Pacific Climate Change Science Program (pdf). Under a high emissions scenario, annual surface air temperatures could rise between 2.1-4.2 degrees Celsius and sea levels by 0.87 meters by 2090.

Aerial view of a coal mining operation in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, illustrating the damage coal mining causes forests. Photo by Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace.

Future plans

The global pact reached at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris two years ago does not contain an explicit anti-fossil fuel stance. However, it does state “the need to promote universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries …. through the enhanced deployment of renewable energy” as part of the overall ambition of ensuring the global average temperature increase does not reach or exceed 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In March 2016, PNG, the first nation to submit its national plan for climate action following ratification of the Paris climate agreement, stated “the main mitigation contribution for PNG would be in terms of an indicative replacement of fossil fueled electricity generation with renewable energy sources” with a target of employing “100 percent renewable energy by 2030, contingent on funding being made available.”

Mayur Resources, developer of the Lae energy park, is keen to promote its support of the country’s transition to low carbon energy. It claims that its plants, by combining coal with renewable energy sources and employing state of the art clean emissions technology, will only result in PNG using coal for 10-20 percent of its power generation, in contrast to 71 percent in Australia. The company also argues the facilities will not increase emissions and comply with the nation’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

“The proposed [Enviro Energy Park] project will maintain the same level of carbon dioxide as the current level from the power generation sector, as nearly 40-50 percent of current power is being generated through diesel and heavy fuel oil. However, the EEP will bring in substantial environmental benefits to the ambient air quality [in Lae] by massively reducing the acid rain-causing gases, like oxides of sulfur, potentially 8-14 times less, and oxides of nitrogen, about 12 times reduced,” Mulder said.

However, while Mayur resources classes biomass as a carbon-reducing element of the project, many researchers question the tendency to classify biomass as a carbon-neutral energy source.

London-based Chatham House reports that “while some instances of biomass energy use may result in lower lifecycle emissions than fossil fuels, in most circumstances, comparing technologies of similar ages, the use of woody biomass for energy will release higher levels of emissions than coal and considerably higher levels than gas.”

Rounded white stones line the Bairaman river in West Pomio district. Photo by Paul Hilton/Greenpeace.

Mayur Resources further says its planned coal mines will result in minimal land disturbance mainly due to “the scale of these operations being very small compared to most other mines globally…..being in the bottom 1 percent of the smallest mines.”

But the University of Papua New Guinea’s Kaluwin claims the full potential impacts of the company’s planned operations are still to be thoroughly assessed.

“The impacts on the environment, destruction of land, atmospheric pollution, water, livelihoods, health, housing, education, culture and traditions, economic benefit sharing and most importantly governance, have not been properly evaluated for such a project to be implemented in PNG,” he said.

Businesses and the government also make an economic argument for coal. Mayur Resources believes that low electricity generation costs of about $0.10 per kilowatt hour, about 35-40 percent lower than the average wholesale cost of power in the local area, will boost business and industrial growth in the eastern coastal city of Lae. The urban center is strategically located between a major cargo shipping port and the Highlands Highway, the only overland transport network into the country’s heavily populated interior.

However, these urban-based plants will contribute little to increasing electricity coverage in rural and remote areas of the country where more than 80 percent of PNG’s population resides and energy deprivation is the greatest.

In this 2003 image, Melanie John, Lulu John, Aebi Sakas and Warume Sakas walk along a logging road in Western Province. The majority of PNG’s population continues to live in rural areas, which are nearly impossible to connect to a national electrical grid. Photo by Sandy Scheltema/Greenpeace.

Energy poverty is a major development challenge in the region.  Only 20 percent of households across the Pacific Islands region, and 12 percent in PNG, have access to electricity, hindering human and socioeconomic development.  An estimated 40 percent of PNG’s population live in hardship, only 63 percent are literate and only 40 percent have access to clean water.

Geographical barriers, such as arduous mountain terrain, dense forest and scattered islands, separated by the sea, make a national power grid virtually impossible. In this context, energy experts recommend greater investment in off-grid and standalone power systems, especially those compatible with renewable technologies, to achieve a substantial improvement in rural and, therefore, national electrification.

“Papua New Guinea, being a tropical island state, is a prime area for solar and hydro clean energy,” Dagia Aka emphasized.

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Company confident experimental PNG seabed mining project on track

Nautilus CEO falsely claims communities have given their free prior informed consent to experimental seabed mining – a COMPLETE LIE. 

He also fails to mention the company doesn’t yet have the funds to start mining!

Radio New Zealand | 15 May  2017

A Canadian mining company says it is confident that a controversial seabed mine will be operational off Papua New Guinea in 2019, as planned.

There have been ongoing concerns about what the impact the Solwara 1 project off the coast of New Ireland Province will have on the environment and local communities.

Nautilus Minerals was granted an environmental permit in 2009 to develop the mine, but it is still yet to be built.

Nautilus chief executive Michael Johnston said the company has conducted robust consultations with a range of groups about the impact of the mine, and he says these had been factored into their planning process.

He said the company had run various hearings and workshops in New Ireland, Kokopo, Rabaul and Port Moresby and any issues that were raised at the meetings were recorded and, where appropriate, were attached as conditions to the company’s licences.

“I know NGOs around countries like Australia and New Zealand jump up and down about free and prior informed consent, but you actually have a system in PNG where it’s actually obtained.”

There had been concerns raised about the process mixing the water column and the potential for it to cause plumes, but Mr Johnston said that the mining process had bee designed so that this wouldn’t be an issue.

“We designed our system taking that on board and have a system where we take the water up on to the vessel, separate the ore-bearing material. It then goes through a de-watering plant which is basically a series of screens, cyclones and eventually filters to remove the ore material and we filter it to 8 microns and then the filtered water is then returned in pipes.”

He said that the technology the company would use, was not new, and been used the the oil and gas industry for years.

“Deep water is anything over about 2000-25000 m. The machines that we are deploying are basically a modification of oil and gas of an oil and gas trenching machine.”

The company is confident the project will be on track to start extracting ore in the first quarter of 2019, he said.

“So that’s the budgeted first ore date and we’re tracking to that schedule at the moment so I don’t see any reason why it won’t achieve it.”

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BCL Working Closely With ABG

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) Has Been Engaged In Planning And Implementing Agreed-Upon Activities In Bougainville Since 2012, BCL Chairman Rob Burns Said This Week.

Post Courier | May 12, 2017

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has been engaged in planning and implementing agreed-upon activities in Bougainville since 2012, BCL chairman Rob Burns said this week.

Mr Burns said in a statement this had been at the invitation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the nine landowner associations involved in discussions on the future of the Panguna resource.

“BCL meets routinely with the ABG and the landowning associations to review these plans and agree on further activities,” he said.

He reiterated his statement at the recent annual general meeting on April 27, outlining some of the progress regarding the Panguna project that had been achieved with the support of Panguna landowners and other stakeholders.

Mr Burns said this in relation to an article in Post-Courier on May 3 in which a landowner group claimed that BCL wanted to get easy access to the Panguna mine.

“BCL is now a predominately locally owned company with landowners at the core of its operations,” he said, adding that the Panguna project had the support of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Bougainville president John Momis.

Mr Burns noted that one interest group from the Panguna area recently petitioned the ABG to cancel BCL’s exploration rights.

“This group purports to represent all Panguna landowners, and questions the ABG and national government support for BCL.

“As noted by president Momis in his interview with Radio New Zealand last week, the group has a separate commitment to an Australian resource company, which is in pursuit of mineral rights at Panguna, of which BCL has been granted tenure.”

Much of the public discourse in the media regarding resource development at Panguna must be viewed in terms of competing commercial interest in Panguna’s mineral rights.

He said that differing views on the future of the Panguna project, especially from the customary landowners, should be respected.

However, when those views do not reflect the broad support from landowners, these views are being driven by personal ambition at the expense of customary landowners and the economic security of Bougainville.

“There is still much work to do to strengthen alignment between stakeholders on the range of issues affecting project progress.

“BCL will continue to engage with the landowning groups at Panguna who have continuously provided support in finding a pathway through the many issues that confront us  all.”

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Bishop Bernard Unabali Condemns Bougainville Mining Rush

Bernard Unabali | 9 May 2017

Today I was invited to attend the ABG “launching of [the] mining Industry”, [which heralds the] formal opening up for exploration licenses, and application, on this formerly “closed up” issue.

So now Isina in Kongara II Jaba tailing area, and Mt Tore in Tinputz can be formerly accepted in their application for exploration licenses.

Reasons [highlighted by the ABG]:

  • Progress
  • Independence
  • Church support
  • Monetary self-reliance
  • Spin off [benefits]
  • New people based mining; and
  • A system fed up with Panguna alone

Only [as] a footnote [was] responsibility for environment damages mentioned. No one starkly mentioned that in reality Laluai, Eorun, Rawa, Wakunai, Aita, Raruma, and many other rivers will be gone especially if [an] incapacitated ABG and Mining Department pretend to safeguard us from highly experienced foreign evaders of truth, and of whom some are just serial environmental rapists.

We must accept that intending the good [of mining], we have also celebrated our future social, physical and even spiritual graveyard !! The church fought [against] a unjust, wrong, foreigner, CRA, in the past. I hope sadly the church will not [have to now] fight the wrong guys in our own people evading law and truth for the sake of money, with pretentious leaders of ‘landowner groups’, if [these] licenses evolve into actual mining [leases] later?

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