Tag Archives: PNG government

‘The revolution is ongoing’: Bougainville to revive radical mining proposal

Heavy trucks sit rusting on the edges of Panguna copper mine, closed in 1989 as a result of sabotage. CREDIT: FRIEDRICH STARK / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

* Bougainville mining proposal to go before parliament in December

* Plan gives a 60% share of mines to Bougainville

* Bougainville is currently voting on independence from PNG

* Proposal was shelved ahead of independence referendum (Adds BCL share price, quotes, context)

Jonathan Barrett | Reuters | 28 November 2019

Bougainville Vice President Raymond Masono said he will revive a plan to overhaul the region’s mining laws after its ongoing independence referendum, which could strip the former operator of the Panguna gold and copper project of its interests.

The proposed changes, which have been criticised by Panguna landowners, would also erase an interest in the project held by the Papua New Guinea government, potentially complicating negotiations between the two governments after the referendum.

Under the proposed mining law amendments, Bougainville would take a 60% share in all projects and retain all mining licences, leaving a 40% share that investors can bid for.

“Panguna is the most likely project that can bankroll Bougainville’s independence from Papua New Guinea,” Masono, who is also Bougainville’s mining minister, told Reuters by telephone from the town of Buka.

“They don’t own the licence and the mine, we own it – they come on our terms. The revolution is ongoing.”

He said companies like former Panguna operator Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), which counts the PNG government as a major shareholder and claims exploration rights at Panguna, would not get “special treatment”.

“They can only come in through the new framework. If they have money they can invest as will other investors.”

BCL declined to comment. The PNG government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Masono said he would push for the plan to go through Bougainville’s parliament in December, after it was shelved in the lead-up to the referendum amid a backlash from some landowners and government members.

Once the economic engine room of PNG, Bougainville has fallen to the bottom of almost every financial indicator, despite boasting mineral riches, fertile volcanic soil and stunning geography.

The autonomous region is now grappling over how best to re-establish a mining industry while maintaining peace, 20 years after the last shots were fired in a bloody conflict between Bougainville rebel fighters and PNG forces, killing 20,000 people.

As part of the peace agreement, Bougainville is holding a non-binding vote on independence that ends on Dec. 7, with the results to go before the PNG parliament and be subject to negotiation.

BCL is one of at least two companies, alongside a group including explorer RTG Mining Inc , that claims the rights to develop Panguna, with the dispute currently being tested in the PNG courts.

BCL shares had been on a bull run since the start of last week, rising almost five-fold to hit A$0.49 on Nov. 26, underpinned by positive sentiment flowing out of the independence vote.

BCL shares have since retreated to trade just under A$0.30 on Thursday.

Another Australian company, Kalia Ltd, is exploring for gold and copper on land located northwest of Panguna.

The mining law amendments, which have previously been backed by Bougainville President John Momis, were put on hold before the referendum amid concerns that landowner rights would be eroded, with control over assets being handed to the Bougainville government.

“It is totally unacceptable to be trying to steal Panguna from the customary owners,” Panguna landowner, Lawrence Daveona, said in a statement in June.

A Bougainville parliamentary committee was also heavily critical of the proposed changes, and noted that there had been a lack of consultation.

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Stay on Ok Tedi orders

The National aka The Loggers Times

COURT orders preventing Ok Tedi Mining Limited from dumping mine wastes into the Fly River was stayed by another judge last Friday.

Lawyer Alan Mana, representing Finance Minister James Marape and Mining secretary Schadrach Himata, filed the application to set aside the ex-parte orders of January 24, 2014.

Justice Derek Hartshorn ruled there was a likelihood that a quite significant amount of revenue would be lost to the State and others if the stay was not granted.

Proceedings have been adjourned to March 14.

Mana submitted that the practical effect of the restraint on OTML discharging tailings or waste rock is to require OTML to shut down the Ok Tedi mine.

Hartshorn said the stay application was sought in respect of the ex-parte orders that had been granted.

“Clearly on the above evidence, the State together with others will be prejudiced as a consequence of a loss of this amount of revenue,” he said.

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PNG govt to control visitors to Bougainville

Islands Business

Non-genuine foreigners travelling into Bougainville and the recent smuggling of illegal currency meant for the island came under spotlight in Parliament this week.

Southern Highlands Governor William Powi called on the national Government and the Autonomous Government of Bougainville to seriously look into illegal activities conducted by foreigners interfering with the internal affairs of the country.

Powi said the recent incident of an American trying to smuggle illegal currency into Bougainville soon after the recent reconciliation visit by the Prime Minister is a wakeup call that foreigners were mingling with the internal affairs of the country and undermining sovereignty and protocols.

He called on the Government to deal with such people severely to put a stop to it and also control the movement of these illegal groups of foreigners who think they can interfere with the country’s internal affairs.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said any foreigners wanting to travel into Bougainville must first get clearance from the PNG Government and the ABG.

He said the uncontrolled fly-in and fly-out practices of foreigners will now stop as there will be screening processes before being issued clearance to travel into the region.

“We will now regulate travel in and out of Bougainville and visitors will now gain access from the PNG Government and the ABG to do their business there,” he said.

He said the government in collaboration with the ABG would open up the abandoned Aropa Airport and all proper checks and clearances will now come in effect.

He said that the control measures are to get rid of conmen like the American citizen who brought in millions of illegal money into the country.

He said the only legal tender in the PNG is the kina and the illegal money brought in by the American has totally different features. “These illegal money were brought in by the American citizen for so-called King in Siwai. He has been arrested and will be trialled according to the country’s laws,” O’Neill said.

“We are not trying to stop genuine people like missionaries and business people but want to get rid of so called conman.”

O’Neill also presented his report on the peace and reconciliation visit to Bougainville this month and was praised for his government’s initiatives there.

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Ok Tedi: Court orders transfer of landowner funds

Post Courier

A TRANSFER transaction of K214 million has already been made this week from a State account to the National Court Registrar’s trust account as per a court order issued last month.

These are funds from the Western Province non-CMCA (community mine continuation agreement) region peoples trust account looked after by Mining Secretary Shadrach Himata as the custodian by law and chairman of the trust deed.

Bank South Pacific on Tuesday this week debited the sum of K213,994,409.26 from the Western Province non-CMCA region peoples trust account number 1001310415 and credited that sum to the National Court Registrar’s trust account number 100583618, pursuant to the order made in the proceedings on January 24, 2014, as varied by the order made therein on February 13, 2014.

BSP legal officer Michael Henao in his letter to Ian Augerea, the Registrar of the National Court of Justice said:

“We are instructed that on February 14, 2014, BSP debited the sum of K213,994,409.26 from the Western Province non-CMCA region peoples trust account number 1001310415 and credited that sum to the National Court Registrar’s trust account number 100583618, pursuant to the order made in the proceedings on January 24, 2014, as varied by the order made therein on February 13, 2014.”

This means that the funds are now out of the Government’s hands and is now in the hands of the courts.

Early this year Prime Minister Peter O’Neill made an announcement to the people of Western Province, both the CMCA and non-CMCA, that their funds were safe in the hands of the Government.

But despite the transfer, State lawyers are pursuing the matter further in the Supreme Court to obtain an order against the decision and for the whole proceedings to be dismissed as misconceived and without course of action.

The case to transfer the funds was taken up by Pastor Steven Bagari and others against Bank South Pacific and six others in the National Court.

Attorney-General Kerenga Kua had raised serious concerns in the manner in which the matter was handled but assured that the state lawyers have not given up and have taken the matter to the Supreme Court which is expected to be heard this morning.

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PNG govt. refusal asserts national sovereignty in experimental seabed mining dispute

ACT NOW!

PROTEST 2 600 by 400The government must be congratulated for protecting PNG interests and rejecting the very poor agreement signed by the Somare government to support the proposed Solwara 1 experimental seabed mine, says community activist group ACT NOW!

Nautilus Minerals has announced it is terminating an agreement with the State of PNG after the government refused to put over $100 million of taxpayers money into the project.

“The government is acting in the best interests of its people by seriously considering the legal, environmental and social implications of the proposed mine” says Ms Dademo.

The government refusal comes despite an arbitration decision obtained by Nautilus Minerals in Australia that attempted to order the PNG government to release the monies.

“In the past, successive governments have rushed the signing of project agreements with mining companies without proper consultation and consideration of all aspects of the proposed activities, including the social and environmental impacts”.

“It is encouraging to see this government reconsidering this bad agreement and not wasting tax payers money to fund an experiment with the potential to destroy.”

“This decision sends a strong signal to foreign investors that if they want to come to PNG it is the interests of local people and communities that are paramount”

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Porgera Landowners Press Statement in response to “Illegal Miners Hit Porgera”

This press statement is released directly in relation to a news articles read EMTV news segment and print news The National 6 February 2014 “ Illegal Miners Hit Porgera”.

porgera alliance ploa logo.jpeg 1024x434 Porgera Landowners Press Statement in response to Illegal Miners Hit PorgeraChairman of Porgera Landowners Association, Tony Mark Ekepa says that the issues surrounding the illegal [unauthorized] mining activity at the mine site is not a new development and the State is responsible for recent increase in illegal [unauthorized] activities at the Porgera Mine site.

The SML Landowners through PLOA have always maintained that this kind of illegal  [unauthorized] activity is manageable through provisions in the Porgera Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) review. The mutually agreed provision regarding resettlement is capable of addressing the problem. Steps have been taken by the stakeholders through the Porgera Mine MOA review but that review has been stalled.

The State, through Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), is to be blamed for the recent increase in illegal  [unauthorized] mining activities for not fast tracking the MOA review. For political convenience, the State has created an unnecessary impasse on the MOA review and illegal  [unauthorized]  activities at the mine site has escalated to a new level as reported by the mine operator.

We the landowners, the developer, the National Government and the Enga Provincial Government, all stakeholders benefit from the Porgera mine. The increase in illegal  [unauthorized] activities at the Porgera mine site is a by-product of ignorance over many years and a refusal to address the problem pro-actively. The current Porgera MOA review has taken the necessary steps to adequately address the problem with pro-active solution but MOA review impasse caused by the State has triggered of the recent increases in illegal  [unauthorized] actives.

The State should not over-react to increase in illegal  [unauthorized] mining activity by deploying mobile police to control the situation. It is a problem that needs to be eliminated at the root. Simply, fast track the MOA review and the stakeholders in the review will mutually undertake a resettlement program that will address the illegal  [unauthorized] miner’s problem once and for all.

Chairman Ekepa says there is no quick fix solution. Fast tracking the MOA review, with a clause on resettlement will trigger of a way forward to eliminate the illegal  [unauthorized] miner’s problem. Finally, once the host SML landowners are resettled out of the SML, the illegal  [unauthorized] miner’s problems will be resettled out as well.

On that basis, due consideration must be given and the Porgera mine MOA review must be fast tracked by the State.

Tony Mark Ekepa
Chairman of PLOA

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PNG takeover of SDP to proceed in international arbitration

Radio New Zealand

The Papua New Guinea government’s move to take over control of PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd’s majority share in the Ok Tedi mine has gone to international arbitration.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes has registered the SDP’s request for arbitration over the government seizure of the company’s 63.4 percent shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.

The arbitration hearing is separate to other litigation relating to the takeover of the Western Province mine, including National Court action by landowners against OTML which has been ordered to stop dumping mine tailings into local river systems.

The SDP chairman, Sir Mekere Morauta, says the company is seeking restitution of the share of OTML which he says was illegally expropriated by the State, or failing that, compensation for the shares.

Sir Mekere says that when the mine is returned to SDP, the company will discuss with the Western Province community the most appropriate arrangements regarding the Ok Tedi mine for the future of the province.

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Nautilus Minerals deal benefits only investors

Nautilus Mineral deal benefits only in investors

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October 17, 2013 · 11:16 am

Nautilus project at least two or three years away, even if government pays up

Business Advantage

Even if the PNG Government puts up its share of the funds for the Solwara I project, as Nautilus Minerals’ CEO expects, it will be at least two to three years before the company can begin its deep sea mining operation in the Bismarck Sea.

Earlier this month, Nautilus won a legally-binding ruling that the PNG government pay for its 30% stake in the joint venture Solwara I project and to pay its share of costs to date. As we reported last week, the independent arbitrator ordered the PNG government to pay US$118m (K 303 million) by 23 October 2013.

Nautilus’s CEO, Mike Johnston, reassured an investors conference last week that he is confident the government will pay by the due date.

Johnson said he had met with the new head of Treasury Dairi Vele in Port Moresby last week, and other officials, ‘and didn’t meet with any real resistance. The project is continuing to move forward and we have a lot of support’.

‘The arbitration has basically given clarity to some of the issues which really were issues between the company and the government obviously, but also internally within the government and that clarity makes it very clear what the path forward is for both parties, in my view, we’re both keen to get on with it now,’ he said.

Nautilus is now going ahead with plans to build a special-purpose vessel that will separate ore from seawater.

Johnson says he expects the order to be placed in the first quarter of 2014, but would not be able to give a timeline on exploration until then.

The company has quotes ranging from US$180 million (K 462m) to US$260 million (K 668m) for the ship, according to Chief Financial Officer, Shontel Norgate.

The vessel will take two to three years to build, depending on which shipyard gets the order, she said.

She said Nautilus could fund the cost of the vessel with partners or pay for it alone, which would involve paying 20–30% of the cost through equity and the rest with debt financing.

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Nautilus and PNG await arbitration decision

The Northern Miner

In 2011 it looked like Nautilus Minerals’ pioneering plan to mine high-grade seafloor sulphide deposits might actually work. The company had permits, a joint venture with the Papua New Guinea government, contracts with partners to build and operate the novel underwater mining machinery, and lots of money from excited investors.

Then the PNG government failed to pay its share of project costs and Nautilus’ momentum ground to a halt.

In exchange for a 30% stake in Nautilus’ most advanced project, Solwara 1, the PNG government had agreed in early 2011 to pay 30% of project costs up to that point and to fund 30% of the costs going forward.

According to Nautilus, those payments just didn’t happen. The government says fault sits with Nautilus, which it says failed to meet several contractual obligations (details of that allegation have not been made public).

Whatever the case, by late 2012 Nautilus could no longer bear the full costs of advancing Solwara 1 alone. The company halted construction of its seafloor production system, effectively putting Solwara 1 on standby. By the time it suspended construction, Nautilus says the PNG government was in arrears to the tune of $75 million.

Direct negotiations failed and the Solwara 1 partners entered arbitration. That process, which started in mid-2012, is finally wrapping up. On August 26 the arbitration hearing took place. Now Nautilus has only to wait for the outcome.

Investors also seem interested in the outcome: Nautilus’ share price has doubled since early July to hover near 40¢. The rally found its footing the previous month, when Nautilus had little trouble selling 200 million shares at 20¢ apiece, for gross proceeds of $40 million.

The company says existing shareholders filled most of the private placement, and indeed Nautilus earned a wide and varied investor base between 2008 and 2011 as its novel proposal to mine massive sulphides on the seafloor took shape. Major shareholders include Mawarid Mining, a subsidiary of Oman’s state oil, gas, and mining company, with 28%; Russian iron ore and steel major Metalloinvest with 20.75%; and Anglo American with 5.95%.

Solwara 1 is 30 km from the coastline of PNG, which means it is in Papua New Guinea’s territorial waters. Underneath 1,600 metres of Bismarck Sea Nautilus has delineated 1.03 million indicated tonnes grading 7.2% copper, 5 grams gold per tonne, 23 grams silver per tonne, and 0.4% zinc. Inferred resources add 1.54 million tonnes averaging 8.1% copper, 6.4 grams gold, 34 grams silver, and 0.9% zinc.

Nautilus’ plan to move those mineral-rich tonnes to the surface starts with two large, robotic, continuous cutting excavators that leave cut material sitting on the seafloor. A collecting machine follows, drawing the mixture of sand, gravel, and silt in a slurry and pumping it through a flexible pipe to the riser and lifting system (RALS).

The RALS comprises a large pump that pushes the slurry up a rigid pipe to a ship, which is known as the production support vessel (PSV). Onboard the PSV the slurry is dewatered and transferred to a barge, while the used seawater is pumped back to the seafloor to avoid mixing cold deep waters into the warm surface waters.

When Nautilus suspended construction, work on the RALS was more than half complete. In the last year some further progress has been made, as Nautilus continued to fund work on three parts of the system.

“The company considered it essential to continue with the build of its three key contracts related to the Seafloor Production System to ensure the company is in the best possible position to advance the Solwara 1 project following the resolution of the dispute with the State of PNG, or alternatively to allow for the re-deployment of the equipment to other jurisdictions,” Nautilus wrote in its latest quarterly financials.

The three key contracts concern the seafloor excavators and collecting machine and the detailed engineering of the RALS. Nautilus has also continued work on plans for the PSV. The $40-million financing was completed to fund this ongoing work and keep the company afloat until the arbitration decision, which is expected by the end of September.

If the arbitration returns a decision that renders Solwara 1 unviable for Nautilus, the company’s investments in the project to date will not all have been in vain as the equipment is mobile and Nautilus has other seafloor massive sulphide projects. The company holds 500,000 sq. km of exploration tenements in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Soloman Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Zealand, as well as 75,000 sq. km of tenements in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, in the international waters of the Eastern Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico.

Nautilus closed recently at 42¢. The company has a 52-week trading range of 20¢ to $1.15 and has 437 million shares outstanding.

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