Tag Archives: Porgera

Mining Pollution Limits Access to Clean Water in Papua New Guinea

Mining pollution turns Papua New Guinea’s Pongema River red. Photo: Red Water report

Aly Azhar  Columbia University | March 15, 2019

new report titled Red Water documents the social, environmental, economic, and health impacts of gold mining in Porgera, Papua New Guinea. The report finds that the communities affected by mining do not have access to consistent and safe drinking water. This is due, in part, to the fact that the PNG government has not met its human rights obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to water in Porgera, and because companies that own and operate the mine — Canadian company Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining from China — are in breach of their responsibilities to respect the right to water.

Red Water finds that the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) gold mine poses direct threats to the social and economic rights of communities living near the mine. These key findings are a result of a four-year study conducted by Earth Institute scientists, Pennsylvania State University scientists, and Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic faculty and students. The investigation conducted over 177 interviews and meetings and collected and analyzed 45 sediment samples from streams adjacent to the PJV gold mine, 25 soil samples from local residents’ household gardens, and water samples from 64 sites.

Homes near the mine do not have running water inside them. 

The PJV releases mine waste, known as tailings, from the mine facility into the Pongema River at an average rate of over 14,000 tons per day. The tailings discharge forms what local residents refer to as the “Red River.” A 2013 study noted the catastrophic environmental consequences of tailings discharge and noted that of the 2,500 industrial-sized mines in the world, only four mines — three of them in PNG — were found to rely on riverine tailings disposal. According to one resident of Porgera, the local residents are “in a desperate situation. [Our] environment is not in a good condition.” Moreover, with a changing climate, water insecurity in the area is an acute problem.

The Porgera gold mine has been one of the world’s highest-producing gold mines over the course of its quarter-century history, and has accounted for a considerable percentage of PNG’s economic income. The mine, which began operations in 1989, has long been contentious, and has generated global attention for both violence by security personnel and allegations of environmental degradation. The mine is owned by the PJV with a 95 percent share held by the mining companies.

The Red Water report highlights key recommendations for the corporations who own the mine, government actors in Papua New Guinea, the government of Canada, and international development partners:

  • Publicly commit to advance the human right to water in Porgera. The report recommends that the consortium of mining companies publicly announce a commitment to initiate a multi-stakeholder process to create a Human Right to Water Policy for the Porgera Joint Venture.
  • Work with the government of PNG to promote consistent access to adequate amounts of clean water for household uses in Porgera. The companies, in partnership with the Papua New Guinea government and in consultation with Porgeran communities, should invest in infrastructure improvements to provide adequate sources of safe water at the household level.
  • Immediately pledge to carry out an independent environmental and social audit of the PJV. This must be a full audit examining all the social, environmental, and health effects of the mine, including on water, land, flora, fauna, and human health. The results of the audit must be made public and accessible, especially for potentially impacted communities.
  • Adopt necessary laws and regulations to ensure that Canadian corporations respect human rights in their extraterritorial activities, and that there is access to remedy where such activities breach international human rights.

A launch event for the report will be held in April and will involve the research team and members of human rights and international development groups.

The report was supported by Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic and a Cross-Cutting Initiative grant from Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

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The huge risks and rewards of Papua New Guinea’s Porgera gold mine

David James | Business Advantage | 13 March 2019 

The Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province is a world class gold mine but, as Executive Director for Barrick (Niugini) Ila Temu explains, it is also one of the world’s most difficult mines to operate.

Drainage, breakdowns in the infrastructure and illegal mining are the three challenges Porgera miners and executives face.

But the rewards are also great. Despite the severe obstacles, Porgera’s production in 2017 was about 500,000 ounces of gold and 204,000 in 2018 (with production affected by the Highlands earthquake).

Barrick Gold Corporation’s new President and CEO, Mark Bristow, explained during his recent trip to Papua New Guinea that the future of the Porgera mine is considered promising.

‘When you look at the current plans of Porgera, it has the potential to be able to deliver 500,000 ounces [per annum] for the next 10 years,’ he reportedly said.

‘The geologists are indicating that there’s potential for another 10 years after that.’

Barrick (Niugini) Executive Director Ila Temu says the company moves 65,000 tonnes of earth per day, 55,000 tonnes of which is waste.

‘Porgera has the potential to be able to deliver 500,000 ounces for the next 10 years.’

Grading in the open pit is about 2.6 grams per tonne and about 1.8 grams per tonne in the long term stock piles.

‘The underground gold grade is slightly higher: 6.8 grams per tonne.’

Infrastructure

Porgera is located at the end of the Highlands Highway, which means it is vulnerable to landslips and tribal conflict taking out power lines.‘So we become a mud moving operation rather than a mining company.

Temu says in 2016 the highway was closed for 101 days, and 54 days in 2017.

‘When you are on the end of the supply chain, you have to think pretty quickly about what to do.

‘That impacts on our ability to operate but with partnership we can get over these issues.

‘So we become a mud moving operation rather than a mining company.’

‘As if that was not enough we were also impacted by the [2018] earthquake.

‘The power station at Hides was knocked out. [We lost] generators, transformers—and the control room was turned upside down.

‘The gas pipeline that feeds us the gas was also shifted a few metres.

‘So, it was a significant impact. We went to mobile diesel power and got generators from Lae.’

Rainfall

Temu says whenever there is heavy rainfall, a large volume of mud comes into the mine.

‘If you don’t have a good dewatering system you have to stop operations to try to get that water out.’

In 2016, the mine had a ‘significant mud rush into the pit and the underground’ and later that year a sink hole failure.

In March 2017, rain caused a collapse in the west wall of the mine.

‘We budget for about 200,000 tonnes of mud per year. When the rainfall increases, that number increases four- or five-fold.

‘So we become a mud moving operation rather than a mining company.

‘It is good to have shareholders with deep pockets to come in and help us resolve these issues pretty quickly.’

Illegal miners

Illegal miners trespassing on the mine is a problem that Porgera has faced ‘since day one’. It is mainly a safety issue but it also has a business impact.

‘Over the years, most of the illegal miners have been non-Porgerans.

‘In 2018, on average, about 500 illegal miners were on the floor of the pit in the mine each day.’

‘They are young, male, have plenty of energy and plenty of time on their hands—and they need some cash.

‘Porgera, having free gold, becomes an easy target.’

Temu says in 2018, on average, about 500 illegal miners were on the floor of the pit in the mine each day.

If the number of illegals is bigger, the mine stops operating.

‘We move our people away until we clear the situation.

‘This impacts us every day in hours lost in production—because of their presence.

‘Earlier this year there were, for the first time, firearms in the pit. The illegal miners were fighting each other.’

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Barrick CEO ‘Concerned’ Over Law And Order Issues In Porgera

Post Courier | March 11, 2019

The new president and chief executive officer of Barrick Gold Corporation, Mark Bristow, is concerned about the level of violence at Porgera in Enga.

“It’s disappointing to come here and see such conflict. We should be working to make sure that the community around this mine improves…to make this place a better place to come to work.”

Mr Bristow said this during a ‘question and answer’ (Q&A) session with employees recently, at the Porgera Gold Mine.

On his maiden visit to PNG, Mr Bristow led a Barrick delegation to Port Moresby and up to Porgera, from February 15 to 18, 2019.

He called on national employees, particularly those from areas in the vicinity of the mine and the general Enga Province, to look at ways within their families, clans and tribes, to deal with the ongoing tribal warfare that has resulted in the loss of many lives and destroyed properties, over the years.

“We’ve convinced other people to come and put their money here and my job today is to convince Barrick investors to continue to stay in Papua New Guinea and I can’t do that without your help.”

Mr Bristow, from South Africa, shared many of his experiences on conflict resolution.

“So when is it that we stop and take the responsibility ourselves for our own future?

“I will point out to you that there’s not one example that a war has resulted in peace. Wars are always resolved in the conversation after the war. So why should we fight? Why don’t we just go straight to the conversation?”

The Q&A session gave employees an opportunity to ask questions on varying subjects.

“Every question that you highlighted is a critical question for us and they are valid. There’s nothing there that you shouldn’t ask about,” Mr Bristow told employees.

Barrick in a statement said Mr Bristow, during his four-day visit to PNG, met with Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel.

This included representatives of the Porgera Landowners’ Association (PLOA), Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Rimbink Pato, Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom, and Lagaip-Porgera MP Tomait Kapili.

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Don’t Listen To Aopi, Says Lower Porgera Association

Jerome Ikuavi | Post Courier | March 5, 2019

THE Lower Porgera Association Inc has thrown its support behind the Resource Owners Federation of PNG over a call by the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum president Gerea Aopi to the national government last week not to delay the renewal of the Porgera Special Mining Lease (SML).

Association chairman John Pokoli in a statement to the Mineral Resources Authority Chief Mining Warden stated that due to the continuous ignorance by the mining company, the group lodged its objection to the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) on September 24, 2018.

“Our objection was in regards to Barrick Porgera, a Canadian mining company, that has become a controversial mine over human rights abuse and environmental issues and the company has been operating in PNG with total impunity,” he claimed.

MRA Chief Warden Andrew Gunua while replying to the objection by the association advised that the objection will be compiled with the warden hearing report which will be forwarded to the Mining Advisory Council (MAC) for its consideration in determining the grant or refusal of the application.

Mr Pokoli said that the association had submitted its claims for environmental damages as per the Ministerial Determination (MD) to the Barrick Porgera including the head office in Canada, Barrick Corporation chairman and the government however has not received any response from the respective authorities to date.

He said the association advised the government not to listen to the Mr Aopi because he does not come from the mining area and has not felt the environmental impact.

“We call on Gerea Aopi to advice Barrick to adhere to set laws of this country,” Pokoli said.

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Porgera children ‘a generation without education’

Carmella Gware | Loop PNG | February 23, 2019

While the Porgera Gold Mine has been in operation since 1990, locals claim they are yet to experience tangible benefits.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera is campaigning against the renewal of the mine’s licence, claiming obvious breaches in agreement by Porgera Joint Venture.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera labeled local children “a generation without education”.

The Foundation said over the years, the mine had done catastrophic damages to the people and the environment, but the company and the government had failed to address those issues.

It was claimed that while there are over 4,000 children in the Special Mining Lease area, none of them go to school.

The Foundation blames Porgera Joint Venture for destroying the only school in the area – the Apalaka Community School – with mine tailings.

“The Porgera landowners gave up their land in exchange for benefits, such as education,” said the Foundation.

“The Porgera Gold Mine has two massive waste dumps: Anawe and Anjoleke. The Anjoleke waste dump acted like a slow-moving rock avalanche. In 2007 it swallowed up the only school in the SML area – the Apalaka Community School.”

Locals say PJV promised to rebuild it 10 years ago, and they are still waiting.

In response, PJV says it is now in the process of identifying an ideal location for the re-establishment of the Apalaka Community School in Enga Province.

“Continuous community issues together with the increasing lawlessness in the area had prevented PJV from re- establishing the school more than two years ago,” PJV responded to Loop PNG.

“The school, initially at Apalaka village within the Special Mine Lease area, was relocated to Yarik village due to unstable ground movements at its initial location.

“Then at Yarik, also within the SML, continuous rain in the area caused a sinkhole at PJV’s underground portal, following which the remedial works had further prevented the normal operation of the relocated school.

“PJV understands that since then students have been attending schools at the nearby Mungulep and Porgera station, as well as to other areas.

“There have been 18 schools in Porgera that PJV has had some engagement through community development projects over the years. Of these, there are at least 14 government-run schools ranging from the elementary level to the secondary school.

“PJV understands that there are more than 18 schools in Porgera valley.

“Over the years, PJV has spent over K51 million on school infrastructure and resources through the Government-owned Tax Credit Scheme (TCS) in Enga Province. Of this, over K13 million has been for schools within the Porgera and Paiela areas.”

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Barrick offering 50% profit share in Tanzania

Will Barrick be offering PNG 50% of the profits from its Porgera mine?

New found resource nationalism may create complications for Barrick’s Bristow in PNG

Mining MX | February 21, 2019

A PROPOSED transaction in which Barrick Gold could share profits from its Acacia Mining with the Tanzanian government on a 50/50 basis could have ramifications for the Toronto-headquartered group in other mining districts, said Bloomberg News.

The newswire said that efforts by Barrick Gold to extend its mining licence agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea over the Porgera asset might be complication if that government sought to replicate the deal in Tanzania.

Mark Bristow, CEO of Barrick Gold, has suggested that the company might not divest of Porgera as the company previously suggested. He has also reached out to the new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, in the hope he’ll consider a review of the recently promulgated mining code.

All of these events might, therefore, by influenced by the outcome of the dispute with Tanzania which is where the offer to share the spoils of Acacia Mining comes from. Acacia, 63.9%-owned by Barrick Gold, has been in dispute with the Tanzanian government over unproved allegations it owes $190bn in unpaid tax dating back some two decades (including penalties and interest).

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Barrick must be accountable for environment destruction

We pray that Barrick is held to account for the misery, pain and loss our people suffered

David Mandi | Post Courier | 21 February 2019

The Porgera River Alluvial Miners Association is responding to an article in Tuesday’s edition of the Post-Courier titled ‘Barrick confirms continuing commitment to PNG Government and Porgera community, which was reportedly released by the new president and chief executive officer of Barrick, Mark Bristow.

First, we confirm our support and commend the Prime Minister, Hon Peter O’Neill’s bold announcement recently that there will be no automatic renewal of the Porgera special mining lease (SML) once it expires in August this year. The Prime Minister’s announcement is surely the best news in decades (30 years) for the poor and illiterate indigenous alluvial miners living along the Porgera river, who had been suppressed and marginalised by the world’s mining powers including Barrick.

Secondly, our response to Barrick’s press release follows.

Barrick has deliberately failed to maintain a positive relationship with us (affected people) in the past, while being fully aware that their operations were physically and economically displacing more than 10,000 people of the Porgera river through their continuous discharge of mine waste (more than 1.5 billion cubic meters per year) directly into the Porgera River system.

Further, to date, Barrick has intentionally failed to pay us compensation award made in our favour through the 1996 Ministerial Determination (“1996 MOil) to settle the six year (1990-1995) compensation dispute.

Thus, Barrick has been illegally discharging waste using a flawed Environment Permit number WD-L3 (121).

We pray that Barrick is held to account for the misery, pain and loss our people suffered.

Thus, Barrick’s continuous presence in Porgera is detrimental to the health, welfare and safety of the Porgera river alluvial miners.

And we will continue to vigorously oppose and protest to Barrick’s application to renew the Porgera SML and Exploration Licences 454 and 858.

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