Tag Archives: Porgera

PNG group says mining ombudsman ‘last hope’

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

Radio New Zealand | 13 March, 2017

A human rights group in Papua New Guinea says it would be a great relief if Canada agrees to appoint an ombudsman to monitor PNG’s mining sector.

The Akali Tange Association has written to Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, as part of a wider global campaign calling for the appointment.

The group said Canadian-owned Barrick Gold had employed security guards at Porgera who had committed killings, assault, and rape.

Its executive officer, McDiyan Robert Yapari, said an ombudsman would finally provide some justice for victims as well as holding mining companies to account.

“Now we don’t have any choice but only our prayers – our only hope now lies with the Canadian Prime Minister, if he sets up this Canadian extractive human rights ombudsman – that would be a great relief for us,” said McDiyan Robert Yapari.

Mr Yapari said the situation at Porgera Mine was getting worse and an ombudsman was the community’s last hope.

Leave a comment

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

PNG campaigners lobby Canadian PM over Porgera abuses

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

Radio New Zealand | 9 March, 2017

Campaigners at the Porgera Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea are among those calling for an ombudsman for Canada’s mining sector.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the Akali Tange Association said an ombudsman would hold Canadian companies to account for abuses.

It said Canadian-owned Barrick Gold had employed security guards at the Porgera Mine who have committed killings, assault, and rape.

MiningWatch Canada spokesperson Catherine Coumans said letters from the Porgera campaigners and others affected by Canadian mining companies were already having an impact.

“It’s certainly really significant when people around the world write directly to our Prime Minister and to directly indicate what the harm is that they’re experiencing from Canadian mining companies and how they have a hard time getting access to justice in their own countries and therefore really need Canada to step up to the plate.”

She said they were still getting reports of rapes at the Porgera Mine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

20 million oz of gold – but where is the development?

Porgera mine workers celebrate 20 million oz of gold

20 million ounces of gold is worth US$ 24,000,000,000 at today’s market price

Twenty four billion dollars / Seventy two billion kina from just one mine – but where is the development we were promised from this ‘world class mine’?

Polluted rivers, poverty, rape, violence is the price we pay for paving the streets of Sydney, Vancouver, London and New York with our gold

Large-scale mining is the wrong model of development, it is neo-colonialism, and we need leaders who will stand up for PNG and say no more!

PJV reaches milestone production since 1990

Post Courier | March 08, 2017

THE Porgera gold mine in Enga Province reached a milestone this month achieving 20 million ounces (oz.) in gold production since the start of operations in 1990.

The mine is a joint venture operation between Barrick Gold Corporation, Zijin Mining Group and Mineral Resources Enga (MRE) Limited.

In a statement the firm released yesterday it announced that the PJV processing department had attained the +20 million oz on March 6, 2017 after 7044 ounces were produced that day.

Marking its significance for the 26 year mine operation, six of PJVs longest serving employees and some production and processing staff were invited by the PJV management to witness the historic gold pour event.

PJV general manager operations, Damian Shaw on behalf of the management, commended the efforts of those who had been involved with the operation since the first pour in 1990 and those who were still with the operation working safely, 20 million ounces later.

“This has been a great effort by everyone, the employees, the community, the government and all other stakeholders. To those who work behind the scene to make it possible to achieve this result, congratulations.

“Not many mines meet 20 million ounces, it is a rare achievement. Porgera still has a long life so let’s get another 20 million,” MrShaw said.

The +20 million oz. is derived from more than 143 million tonnes of ore that have been mined in both the Open Pit and Underground since start of production.

Production superintendent (Anawe) Anthon Pakyo, acknowledged the contributions from all of the PJV site departments, adding that there have been challenges along the way but as a team, the site has achieved this.

“For the processing team, this is a real milestone achievement as we all know it has been challenging to get this far. We can hope for some more million ounces in the future through our continued team efforts,” Mr Pakyo said.

Porgera accounts for, on average 11 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s total exports and is a major contributor to the PNG economy in taxes, duties, royalties and infrastructure development.

PJV has also managed over 570 tax credit scheme (TCS) and infrastructure development program (IDP) funded projects valued at over US$74million since the start of TCS in 1992.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

MOAs for mining projects set to go before NEC

mra

Post Courier | December 23, 2016

SEVEN of the memorandum of agreements (MOA) for the mining projects in the country have been completed and will be submitted to the National Executive Council (NEC) for approval in January, 2017. This is from the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) while giving an update on the status of these agreements.

Each of the operating mining projects have in place an MOA that sets out the benefits sharing arrangements between the National Government, the host provincial and local level governments and the immediate mine area landowners. The MOAs are reviewed periodically as agreed by the stakeholders.

Those completed are for the Ramu mine in Madang Province, Simberi (New Ireland), Hidden Valley (Morobe), Ok Tedi (Western Province), Tolokuma (Central) and Sinivit (East New Britain). MRA’s managing director Philip Samar told the Post-Courier that once they have been approved by the NEC, the actual signing ceremony will be held at each of these project sites.

“This is to allow the project stakeholders to witness such an occasion,” Mr Samar said.

Also completed is Woodlark in Milne Bay, which is one of the two new approved mining projects. He said the review process for Porgera, Lihir and Crater Mountain are yet to be completed. The current exercise will continue in 2017 along with the country’s first ever deep sea mine – Solwara-1.

Mr Samar said this will be the first time that any government has submitted more than one revised MOA in the last 10 years.

He said one of the improvements that the MRA is embarking on to improve is administration and transparency of the revised MOAs by making allowances for autonomous parties to administer each of them, and to facilitate annual meetings where the independent auditor presents the implementation scorecards for each of them.

“This way all parties will be held to fully account for the implementation of their commitments on an annual basis,” he said.

1 Comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Tibetans in anguish as Chinese mines pollute their sacred grasslands

Landscape along the road from Xining to Yushu in Qinghai province. (Giulia Marchi/For The Washington Post)

Landscape along the road from Xining to Yushu in Qinghai province. (Giulia Marchi/For The Washington Post)

With the Chinese expanding their mining interests in Papua New Guinea, is the pollution and desecration being suffered in Tibet a foretaste of the anguish to come in PNG? 

Simon Denyer | Washington Post | December 26 2016

High in western China’s Sichuan province, in the shadow of holy mountains, the Liqi River flows through a lush, grassy valley dotted with grazing yaks, small Tibetan villages and a Buddhist temple. But there’s ­poison here.

A large lithium mine not only desecrates the sacred grasslands, villagers say, but spawns deadly pollution. The river used to be full of fish. Today, there are hardly any. Hundreds of yaks, the villagers say, have died in the past few years after drinking river water.

China’s thirst for mineral ­resources — and its desire to exploit the rich deposits under the Tibetan plateau — have spread ­environmental pollution and ­anguish for many of the herders whose ancestors lived here for thousands of years.

The land they worship is under assault, and their way of life is threatened without their consent, the herders say.

“Old people, we see the mines and we cry,” a 67-year-old yak herder said, requesting anonymity for fear of retribution. “What are the future generations going to do? How are they going to survive?”

A local environmentalist, who also declined to be named to avoid backlash from the authorities, said he had done an oral survey of local opinion and found that Tibetans would oppose mining projects even if companies promised to share profits with local communities, to fill in mines after they were exhausted, and to return sites to their natural state.

“God is in the mountains and the rivers, these are the places that spirits live,” he said. “When mining comes and the grassland is dug up, people believe worse disasters will come. It destroys the mountain god.”

Salt deposits at the Jiajika lithium mine in Tagong township in China’s western Sichuan province, seen in August. Local herders have protested at least twice against the mine, saying it has polluted the Liqi River and killed fish and yaks downstream. (Simon Denyer/The Washington Post)

Salt deposits at the Jiajika lithium mine in Tagong township in China’s western Sichuan province, seen in August. Local herders have protested at least twice against the mine, saying it has polluted the Liqi River and killed fish and yaks downstream. (Simon Denyer/The Washington Post)

‘We just knew they had lied’

It was in 2009 that toxic chemicals from the Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium mine first leaked into the river, locals say, killing their livestock and poisoning the fish.

“The whole river stank, and it was full of dead yaks and dead fish,” said one man downstream in the village of Balang, who declined to be named for fear of retribution. Another pollution outbreak and a protest by villagers in 2013 forced the government to order production temporarily stopped, locals said.

“Then ... officials came to the village to try to persuade people,” the man said. “They said we have to have the mine but promised they would take time to fix the pollution problem before reopening it.”

But in April, just after mining restarted, fish began dying again, ­locals said. “That’s when we just knew they had lied,” the man said.

In May, residents staged a second protest, scattering dead fish on a road in the nearby town of Tagong. The protesters were surrounded by dozens of baton-wielding riot police. Again the government stepped in, issuing a statement to “solemnly” promise that the plant would not reopen until the “environmental issues” were solved.

But the problem at the Jiajika mine is not an isolated one. Across Tibetan parts of China, protests regularly erupt against mineral extraction, according to a 2015 report by Tibet Watch.

tibet-image

China is focused on copper and gold extraction from Tibet but is also exploiting a whole range of minerals “with increasing intensity,” including chromium, iron, lithium, iron, mercury, uranium and zinc — as well as fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, the report said.

Although China boasts of its ­development work in western ­regions where Tibetans live — hauling millions out of poverty and nearly doubling life expectancy over the past five decades — the report argued that much of the transport and other infrastructure in the region is aimed at extracting minerals rather than benefiting residents. Projects usually import workers from other parts of China, seldom employing Tibetans in significant numbers.

When protests break out, ­China’s response “has generally been heavy-handed,” with authorities seeking to politicize the protests, Tibet Watch wrote.

Understanding those risks, ­Tibetan communities sometimes use creative ways to get their message across.

When hundreds of people gathered in August 2013 in Zadoi county in Qinghai province to protest against mining on what they considered to be a holy mountain, they flew Chinese flags to demonstrate their loyalty to the state and erected posters and placards quoting President Xi Jinping’s words on the need to balance economic growth and environmental protection.

It didn’t help. Police and paramilitary forces arrived in large numbers and fired bullets above the crowd, according to campaigners at Free Tibet. The group said eight people were arrested and many more injured.

A camp at a lead and zinc mine in the high-altitude village of Xingniangda in the southern part of Qinghai province. Only Han Chinese work there. (Giulia Marchi/For The Washington Post)

A camp at a lead and zinc mine in the high-altitude village of Xingniangda in the southern part of Qinghai province. Only Han Chinese work there. (Giulia Marchi/For The Washington Post)

In the villages outside Xiaosumang township in Qinghai, residents blame a lead and zinc mine for the deterioration of the grasslands for miles around, and even for falling harvests of caterpillar fungus, a highly prized health cure that is the backbone of the local economy.

Contaminated water from the mine, residents said in a joint letter to the authorities in 2010, not only killed their livestock but also caused people who drank it to die of cancer, they said.

“Over the years, many herders would sigh and say: ‘Life can’t go on like this anymore. Even drinking has become a big issue for people living on the grasslands,’” the letter said.

A May 2009 protest in the village of Xizha prompted a severe crackdown, the letter said, with guns and tear gas used, seven women severely beaten, and 12 men blindfolded, detained and tortured.

Authorities threatened to cancel poverty-alleviation grants, including income and housing subsidies, if anyone in the region brought up the issue of environmental protection again, the letter said, adding that the crackdown “caused great fear to spread in our hearts.”

Whether the mine is truly the culprit for all the grasslands’ ills is another matter — climate change, for example, is probably an important factor. But that doesn’t soothe local anger.

“When I was young, there was more grass, more flowers, it was really beautiful here,” said a 27-year-old man in a valley downstream from the lead and zinc mine. “Now you see it’s less beautiful every year. People see all this and they are not really sure what happened, so they think it must be the mine.”

A woman washes clothes near the Jiajika lithium mine in Tagong township in China’s western Sichuan province. Local say the mine has polluted the Liqi River and killed fish and yaks. (Simon Denyer/The Washington Post)

A woman washes clothes near the Jiajika lithium mine in Tagong township in China’s western Sichuan province. Local say the mine has polluted the Liqi River and killed fish and yaks. (Simon Denyer/The Washington Post)

A conflict without end

In Jiajika, 300 miles to the southeast, the commercial pressure to reopen the lithium mine is mounting. The element is a vital component in rechargeable batteries used in cars, smartphones, laptops and other electronic and electrical items. Demand — and prices — are skyrocketing.

Last January, Youngy Co. Ltd., the parent company of Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium, promised investors that the local government would step up efforts to reopen the mine in March.

That same month, an article in the local Ganzi Daily newspaper outlined the authorities’ dream of making the area “China’s lithium capital,” calling Jiajika the biggest lithium mine in the world with proven reserves of 1.89 million metric tons and even greater ­potential. Three companies, including Rongda, will invest 3.4 billion yuan ($510 million) in the site by 2020, the article said.

He Chengkun, Youngy’s media officer, said an official investigation had established that the plant was not responsible for killing fish in 2013 or this year.

“The local government has made it clear it is nothing to do with our company,” he said. “They are looking into it and have already zoomed in on some suspects.”

He said the plant has been closed since late 2013 because of problems relating to land acquisition and denied that it had restarted operations in April, as locals claimed.

Nevertheless, across the Tibetan plateau, resource extraction, land grabs and environmental destruction remain flash points for conflict between Tibetans and the authorities, said Free Tibet Director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, reflecting both local grievances and the wider problem that Tibetans do not have the right to decide what happens to Tibet and its resources.

“Those resources feed the demands of Chinese industry instead of the needs of the Tibetan people,” she said. “That is why their environment is put at risk and their rights are trampled upon, and why we can expect to see this conflict played out repeatedly in the future.”

Xu Yanjingjing contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights

Chan flatters the mining industry and deceives the people of PNG

Byran Chan

Mining Minister Byron Chan is eager to praise foreign owned mines in PNG for increasing their production and revenues in 2016 – see story below. But what benefit are increased production and increased company revenues to the people of PNG?

What Chan should be talking about but does NOT mention is the government’s revenues from taxation and the landholders benefits. Have government revenues and benefits from Lihir increased by 38% this year to match the increased production and company revenue? Have government revenues and benefits from Hidden Valley increased by 33%? From Simberi by 20% and Porgera by 17%?

Looks like Chan is trying to fool the people of PNG into thinking increased production and revenues are good for them when in fact most of those benefits accrue to foreign shareholders and company executives – not landholders or the the PNG government.

Chan also tries to deceive by declaring “mineral exports will contribute just over K9 billion for 2016”. Sounds great doesn’t it, but why is Chan being so vague – will contribute K9 billion to what? Not government revenues, not landholder benefits but K9 billion to mining company revenues!

Production is up, revenues are up – but so what Mr Chan? Why aren’t you talking about government revenues and landholder benefits? That is what matters to the people of PNG, the people you are supposed to represent and be fighting for as an MP and Minister?

Sounds like Byron Chan is the Minister for Foreign Mining Profits…

Chan praises mines with increasing production
The National aka The Loggers Times | December 7, 2016
MINING Minister Byron Chan says several key mines in the country have shown increasing production and revenue this year.
“They are Lihir, our largest producer, projected to be up a whopping 38 per cent on revenue against 2015, Porgera (17 per cent), Ok Tedi (36 per cent) – an impressive recovery from their closure, Hidden Valley (33 per cent) and Simberi (20 per cent),” Chan said.
“Unless there are further commodity price falls in our key minerals of gold, silver, copper, nickel and cobalt, this level of production and revenue is expected to continue to rise over the next few years.”
He said this was cushioned by the smaller mines such as Kainantu and Tolukuma, which were resuming commercial production in 2017.
In addition, Crater Mountain and Eddie Creek is expected to increase gold production.
“With this growth profile, we project that mineral exports will contribute just over K9 billion for 2016,” he said.
“The number of world class operating mines and advanced projects in Papua New Guinea will undoubtedly attract investors, and open up new business opportunities, both locally for the country as a whole, but especially in mining provinces.
“Provinces such as East and West Sepik, and even Morobe, which have not had a major resource project, will experience an increase in business activities. Planning by provincial and local level governments in relation to these mines is crucial to make the most out of the growth opportunities.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

Porgera’s sexual assault survivors plead for UN action against Barrick Gold

Indigenous survivors of sexual violence at the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea demand justice from Toronto-based mining giant, Barrick Gold. Photo courtesy of MiningWatch Canada.

Indigenous survivors of sexual violence at the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea demand justice from Toronto-based mining giant, Barrick Gold. Photo courtesy of MiningWatch Canada.

Elizabeth McSheffrey | National Observer | November 17 2016

Nearly 120 sexual assault survivors at a Canadian mining giant’s joint operation in Papua New Guinea are pleading their case to the United Nations and asking for an intervention in their pursuit of justice.

On Wednesday, a massive group of Indigenous women who live near Barrick Gold’s Porgera mine submitted a letter to officials at the fifth annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, where they demanded fair remedy for their grievances from the Toronto-based corporation.

“The company’s guards raped us,” said Everlyn Gaupe, one of the women who says she was harmed by staff at the mine, in a press statement. “The company ignored us for years. When the company finally created a remedy program, we 119 women went to it. But the remedy was not fair.

“We did not get everything that we were promised. We call for the support of the UN because Barrick Gold is ignoring our call to pay us equal compensation.”

No plans to offer extra compensation, says Barrick

Barrick Gold is the largest gold producer in the world and owns nearly 50 per cent of the southwestern Pacific Porgera mine. The other majority stake belongs to a Chinese producer called Zijin Mining Group and five per cent of the mine is owned by the local provincial government and landowners.

In an interview with National Observer, senior vice-president of communications Andy Lloyd recognized the “horrific” nature of the victims’ experiences, but said the company was not considering reopening the remedy process for them at this time.

“I’m not aware of anything that wasn’t delivered upon,” he said over the phone. “The individuals who brought forward those claims, at the time of acceptance of those remedies, essentially accepted that the remedy that was offered met their expectation, and they acknowledged that the claim had been addressed.”

The Porgera Mine, which produced nearly 500,000 ounces of gold in 2015 alone, has been the notorious site of gang rape, beatings, and other atrocities since its the start of its operations in 1990. Detailed reports by Human Rights Watch and other industry watchdog groups describe disturbing cases of extreme violence at the hands of mine security personnel, some of whom threatened victims with arrest if they tried to complain to other authorities.

Barrick Gold acquired its interest in the mine in 2006, and in 2012, started its a formal remediation program for female victims of sexual violence in the Porgera Valley. Many of the cases, said Lloyd, occurred before Barrick Gold became involved, but the company has worked hard over the years to end a pattern of sexual violence and domestic abuse not only at the mine, but in the community at large.

The Toronto-based mining giant, Barrick Gold, owns roughly 50 per cent of the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea, pictured here. Photo courtesy of Barrick Gold.

The Toronto-based mining giant, Barrick Gold, owns roughly 50 per cent of the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea, pictured here. Photo courtesy of Barrick Gold.

Mining in “complicated environments”

“There is a broader issue of sexual assault and violence against women that is unfortunately very pervasive in that region, and it’s something we’ve also tried to work on,” he explained. “We now have a global human rights training program and all of our employees participate. We’ve done gender-based violence for employees from Zambia to Papua New Guinea to the United States.

“We’ve really tried to use our influence to try to make a difference on this issue and some positive contribution.”

In Papua New Guinea specifically, he said, the mining company has made substantial contributions to the Porgera District Women’s Association, the Family and Sexual Violence Unit of local police, and has provided funding for new women’s welfare liaison officers, which provide an alternative avenue for women to report cases of abuse.

Barrick Gold operates in some of the most “complicated environments” for mining in the world, Lloyd explained, and often inherits those properties from others. It’s not an excuse, he said, but adds some context to the criticism of industry watchdogs and international NGOs.

While MiningWatch Canada, for example, has supported the calls for extra cash compensation for victims, he said, an independent human rights consultant that reviewed Barrick’s remediation framework for survivors of sexual violence found that cash remediation often exposed claimants to re-victimization through theft or further abuse from family members. In that review, the consultant noted that the Porgera Remedy Framework Association (PRFA) supported this conclusion, and unanimously expressed:

“… Payment of cash compensation, especially as a lump sum, would (i) subject the women to a severe risk of re-victimization at the hands of their families, and (ii) ultimately leave the women in no better position vis-à-vis their families and communities because the money would very quickly be disbursed to others at the expense of the claimants themselves.”

In an email to National Observer, MiningWatch Canada’s Catherine Counmans said she recognized that Barrick was advised against cash payments, but her own experience interviewing victims at the Porgera mine told her that they frequently asked for cash to be part of their settlements, along with education, housing, and other resource supports. The NGO has documented cases of human rights, safety, and environmental violations at Barrick’s mines all over the world for years, and those of its subsidiaries.

“We reported that, because rights-compatible remedy should take into consideration the wishes of the victims and Barrick wasn’t going to give them any cash,” she explained. “However, we never advocated for what Barrick eventually did, which was to largely abandon individually tailored remedies in favour of a near uniform dump of cash.”

Sexual violence survivors near the Porgera Mine in Papua New Guinea are demanding fair compensation from Barrick Gold at the fifth annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights on Wed. Nov. 17, 2016. Video courtesy of MiningWatch Canada.

Indigenous women demand more

Indeed, according to the letter penned by the Indigenous women to the UN on Wednesday, Barrick’s efforts have been wildly inadequate. Through the remediation program, they each received PGK50,000 (roughly $21,000) and a promise that school fees and medical support would be provided for their children over the next three years.

But much of the latter has not been delivered, they argued, demanding additional compensation equal to what Barrick Gold has provided other Porgera sexual abuse victims who took a legal route to address their grievances rather than participate in the remediation program. In 2015, 11 survivors of sexual assault at the mine settled out of court with Barrick, for what was reportedly a much larger sum than was provided through the program.

Those sums have been kept confidential and National Observer could not confirm the numbers.

“For the women, this is another step in what has been a long process over many years fighting for their right to remedy for brutal sexual assaults by mine guards,” said Coumans. “These are strong women who are fighting for justice against the largest gold mining company in the world.”

She confirmed that survivors of abuse at the Porgera Mine have not sought compensation from other stakeholders, including Zijin Mining Group in China, and criticized Barrick Gold for including a stipulation in their remedy program that requires women who participate to sign away their right to sue the company for the abuse.

Lloyd said the program was run by some of the country’s leading women’s rights advocates, but Barrick knew it could have been improved.

“I think we will take from that experience and hopefully we never have to implement a program like that,” he told National Observer. “We want other companies to look at our experience and potentially improve upon the program that we tried to put together in good faith. Our hearts go out to the women who are victims of sexual assault.”

Since 2005, the company has come under international criticism for similar incidents of violence at its mine in Tanzania, and a wide array of environmental and safety violations in Argentina and Chile.

Leave a comment

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea