Tag Archives: Sam Basil

Govt not learning from experience

Freddy Gigmai | Post Courier | February 8, 2019

The current government along with its responsible agencies are still not learning from the damaging experiences of mining activities in the country.

The experiences of Panguna, Ok Tedi, Tolukuma, and others are all there for the responsible authorities to learn and do things properly. The environmental pollution and damages caused by these mines have exceeded the monetary and other benefits put together.

The evidence are overwhelming but the government is still somewhat ignorant thus placing short term revenue gains ahead of long term gains and sustainability and dependence of our small people on the natural resources such as river systems, forests, seas, etc.

The recent MoU signed by the O’Neill government with the developers of the multi-billion kina Wafi-Golpu mining project in Morobe province is another clear indication that it does not care about the local peoples welfare and long term survival.

The Morobe Governor and Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour with the concerned landowners must be commended for voicing their concerns against the signed MoU.

The MoU is rushed and is sinister because there is no clear indication of the where the mine tailings will be properly stored and disposed. At present, it is apparent that the tailings will no doubt be dumped into the sea on the Morobe coast. The environmental damages that the tailings disposal pose are unimaginable.

Although Bulolo MP and Energy Minister Sam Basil and former Morobe Governor Kelly Naru have said that the MoU is only a guide to pave the way forward, the concerns of the Morobe people and leaders who will be directly affected must be respected and considered.

It is very surprising to see the minister responsible for mining and Kainantu MP Johnson Tuke silent on this very important issue.

Also on a close look of the electoral boundaries, eighty percent of the Wafi-Golpu project is in the Huon Gulf electorate and not in Bulolo-Wau so

Basil’s heavy involvement and not Ross Seymour as the Huon Gulf MP with Governor Saonu is a concern as well.

The natural resources and assets of this country must not be taken for a ride by a few privileged individuals. The MPs are voted into parliament to make decisions in the best interest of the people as their first priority and not for themselves and the developers who after all are short terms profit-oriented visitors who only care to bring the best returns to their shareholders only.

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K400M Lae Coal Plant In Jeopardy

Benny Geteng | Post Courier | February 7, 2019

THE proposed K400 million coal-fired power plant to be built in Lae is in jeopardy as PNG Power Limited is not considering the power option put forward by developer Mayur Resources.

PPL acting managing director Carolyn Blacklock, when responding to questions posed by the Post-Courier in regards to the power purchasing agreement sent by Mayur to PPL and how the PPL is handling the proposal at present, said PNG Power is not considering the Mayur proposal.

This means the bid to have the coal power plant in Lae is in limbo since the PPA approval will grant Mayur the green light to go ahead with the project construction phase.

Ms Blacklock said PNG Power has a clear IPP Policy that supports competitive bidding of planned generation, transmission and distribution investments.

“It is not a planned activity of PNG Power and is not being considered,” she said.

Mayur managing director Paul Mulder said PNG Power is under obligation to assess the power purchasing agreement (PPA).

“The PPL board has the obligation to assess our bid and make recommendations this year,” he said.

Energy minister Sam Basil had earlier written to PPL board chairman Peter Nupiri in October to request PPL board to assess Mayur’s proposal since their bid was solicited by PNG Power through a letter by Chris Bais (PPL director strategic planning and business development) in 2015, granting Mayur leave to send a PPA proposal for assessment.

Mayur Resources submitted a proposal that is still yet to be assessed by the PPL board.

This now contradicts Ms Blacklock’s response since according to Mr Basil’s letter, until the review of Mayur’s proposal is assessed, then he will accept the PPL’s board decision.

The coal power plant in Lae is to be spearheaded by Mayur Resources Limited and is expected to utilise coal seams extracted from the seas of Gulf province and is anticipated to generate revenue for Lae City Authority and the Morobe provincial government.

Mr Basil, Lae MP John Rosso and Morobe governor Ginson Saonu have backed the proposed project to be built in Lae .

It is expected to generate K4m annually to the provincial coffers, among other benefit

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Coal Power not a Favorable Option

Stret Pasin:  Good news but I hope she has locked in her support as she will come in for attack from the coal proponents and their cronies. They will try to get rid of her if she does not follow their line.

Adelaide Kari | EMTV | February 5, 2019

Mayur Resource when speaking to EMTV News stated that they had submitted a Power Purchase Agreement proposal to PNG Power and was confident they had tick all the boxes.

Today, PNG Power Acting Managing Director, Carolyn Blacklock, commenting on the proposal of coal, said the company is looking towards renewable energy.

PNG Power confirmed they had received the Power purchase agreement for Mayur Resources but were not confident that the proposal showed a commitment that would last 25 years.

Blacklock also stated that PNG Power was looking more towards hydro and solar, and coal power would not be a part of PPL Plan.

The Minister for Energy, Sam Basil, an open supporter of the Coal Power station, has publicly said the ball was now in PNG Power’s corner. With PNG Power weary of the idea of a coal power station, what does this mean for Mayur’s prospect of a coal power station?

But the prospect of a Coal Power station may still be pushed with the National Energy Bill that is currently being drafted, exact specifics of this touted National Energy Bill have not been given out to the public just yet. The Minister for Energy, Sam Basil, stated it will allow other energy companies, provincial governments and landowners to enter into agreements to supply energy without approval from the State-owned PNG Power.

Northern Governor, Gary Juffa, who has openly gone against the idea of coal mining in PNG, says the National Energy Bill needs to be structured properly, and should be based on renewable energy. Governor Juffa stated that the bill will allow provincial government to create revenue and is a positive to the bill.

The argument for cheaper vs cleaner energy has become the source of a debate that will continue until the National Energy Bill is tabled in Parliament, and even that information, is still unclear.

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Rugby League stars’ promotion of coal in PNG questioned

Brisbane and Queensland rugby league player Sam Thaiday. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Radio New Zealand | 23 January 2019 

Questions have been raised in Papua New Guinea over the visit by Australian rugby league stars to promote coal development in the country.

The Australian company Mayur Resources has an environmental permit to mine coal in PNG’s Gulf Province, and is proposing a coal-fired power plant in Lae.

It’s recently deployed a second former league star, Sam Thaiday, to PNG in a promotional capacity.

Former Australian captain Darren Lockyer is Mayur’s head of Business Affairs.

Christian Lohberger of Nogat Coal PNG, which opposes Mayur’s plans, said the league stars, and Lockyer in particular, are idolised in PNG.

“Even though they’re just footballers, when they talk and say stuff, people listen. So I guess it’s a smart move by Mayur to bring them on board. But I don’t know if it’s really ethical that they should be using Papua New Guineans’ love of rugby league to promote something that’s not really connected.”

Mr Lohberger said that the proposed plant would create significant pollution and cause harm and death to local communities.

However, PNG’s Minister for Energy Sam Basil is supporting the coal project, saying it would open up access to cheaper energy that has long been lacking in the country.

Mr Basil has voiced concern that the current power plant in Lae uses imported heavy fuel oil and is cost inefficient.

He said that PNG should explore as many local energy options as possible, given the country’s range of natural resources.

However the plant backers have not secured a local customer or off-taker for the power produced at the plant.

The main power supplier in the country, PNG Power, has been reluctant to buy electricity from coal sources.

Mr Lohberger said he understood PNG Power was waiting on a pending World Bank report on a comprehensive electricity generation cost strategy, which could affect a decision on linking up with Mayur’s plant.

“I would say with the way global trends are going, the surge in renewable energy, and the fall in prices of solar and wind and hydro, that any report that takes a look at power prices is not going to be favourable to coal,” he explained.

But global shifts away from investment in fossil fuels, due to pressing climate change issues, are not deterring the minister who has cited PNG’s neighbours’ energy policies.

Mr Basil said that with both Australia and Indonesia heavily reliant on coal power, PNG should not deprive itself of a home-grown asset.

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Govt will support coal power plant, says Basil

Peter Esila | The National aka The Loggers Times | November 29, 2018

THE Government will support any type of energy-producing sources developed in the country, including coal, says Minister for Energy Sam Basil.
Basil, one of the major proponents of the coal project in Lae together with Lae MP John Rosso, said this on FM 100 talkback radio yesterday in reference to that project.
Bulolo MP Basil and Ross have already encountered fierce resistance to the project in light of environmental implications.
This includes biomass energy project landowners in the Markham Valley of Morobe.
“We will continue to support all the different power-producing companies using different methods that are coming into PNG to operate, coal being one of them,” Basil said.
“The important thing that we must also look at is that when we start putting new power plants in districts and provinces, I’d like to look more into the landowners, the local level government, districts, towns and the provinces.
“What kind of benefits will we have in return for those people who may have their land and resources available for those projects to take stage?
“We should now be looking at more benefits rolling back into the host districts and provinces, and landowners.”
Basil is aware of resistance to him and Rosso.
“I would like to test new ideas, new ways of doing things because PNG has been neglected for awhile,” he said.
“Our neighbours Indonesia and Australia are heavily dependent – more than 50 per cent – on coal.
“We should be asking ourselves: How can we progress PNG forward? I think that one of the answers is having access to energy.
“We have a lot of raw resources to burn, to produce products for us, decapitating international prices by having access to our own energy here like gas, coal and others.
“It is one of the things that we should be promoting,”
Of solar energy, Basil said: “We are looking for solar places.
“For example, we are asking the DDA (district development authority) of Markham and other districts that have ample land, good sunlight, to make land available.
“Register with the Energy Department so that when people come and look around for putting up solar plants, we have got land there.
“We can also identify potential sites for geothermal.”
Basil said that the National Energy Bill, which would allow for energy investments, was in its final stages.

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Australian company pushing to open Papua New Guinea’s first coal-fired power plant

PHOTO: A new 60 megawatt power station would have the ability to burn coal as well as use renewable biomass. (ABC News: Peter Giafis)

An Australian company is pushing ahead with plans to open a coal-fired power plant and coal mine in Papua New Guinea, despite the recent call from the world’s most authoritative climate science body to completely cut greenhouse emissions by 2050.

Key points:

  • Mayur Resources plans to open a power plant and possible coal mine in PNG
  • A new power facility is expected in just over two years, the Energy Minister says
  • Activists say the move would be counter to PNG’s commitments under the Paris accords

Yara Murray-Atfield | ABC News | 19 October 2018

Australian-based and PNG-focused Mayur Resources is proposing the establishment of an “Enviro Energy Park” in the industrial hub of Lae in PNG’s Morobe province.

Mayur has been in talks for the project since at least 2014, but now a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) has been signed between the company, the Lae City Authority, and the Morobe Provincial Government.

The MOA details plans for a new 60 megawatt power station, with the ability to burn coal as well as use renewable biomass, solar energy, and by-product heat.

Mayur Resources’ managing director Paul Mulder told the ABC the company was essentially at the stage of being “construction-ready” for the project, which he said would significantly reduce the energy cost for Papua New Guineans.

On Tuesday, Mayur released a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange detailing further non-binding plans to work with coal exporter Square at a coal mine in another province, touting the “low-ash, low-sulphur coal” found at Gulf Province’s Depot Creek.

If the projects are built, they would mark the first coal-fired power plant and coal mine in the country.

Coal generates mixed reaction

The project has attracted high-profile supporters, including Energy Minister Sam Basil who did not respond to an ABC request for comment, but said in a Mayur press release that “we can expect a new power facility in just over two years from now”.

“Whilst there are always those that will criticise, I take this opportunity to outline that Australia enjoys its first world developed lifestyle with 70 per cent of its total energy coming from coal,” Mr Basil said in the release, adding that this project would only be a much smaller fraction of PNG’s total energy.

PNG is a signatory to the Paris Agreement and, like Australia, recently signed the Pacific Islands Forum’s Boe Declaration, which says climate change “remains the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security, and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific”.

An assessment from PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Agency has given its endorsement to the plan, but it still faces community backlash.

“Our neighbours are really facing an existential crisis from sea level rise,” Christian Lohberger, head of anti-coal activist group Nogat Coal, told the ABC.

“So we think it’s irresponsible for Papua New Guinea to invest in coal, especially because there are many, many alternatives in Papua New Guinea for energy generation,” added Mr Lohberger, who also works for the Astra Solar company in PNG.

In 2016, World Bank data suggested only 23 per cent of the population had access to electricity, and even larger, electrified cities like the capital Port Moresby and Lae experience severe and frequent power outages.

Mr Mulder of Mayur Resources said PNG was an “energy-starved nation” and that the proposal “reduces the emissions footprint of what is currently the state of play in Papua New Guinea.”

Most prominent businesses in Lae use diesel-powered generators, which can produce carbon dioxide and other particulate emissions, and are known to reduce air quality.

“We’ve got the emission thing, but by the same token, if you lived in Lae, you would understand,” Lae MP John Rosso told the ABC.

“We have huge power fluctuations and we [sometimes] go a week without power.

“Our factories are suffering, our consumers are suffering, and I had to make that call, because we can’t keep sitting in the dark and letting our kids sit in the dark.”

The plan does have some resistance within government circles, with the Minister for Lands and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Justin Tkatchenko telling the ABC “for me personally … I am against coal fire, 100 per cent”.

Final hurdle is ‘unsolicited’ power agreement

The recent MOA is not an official contract, but Mayur said it had completed a feasibility study, selected a site, secured environmental approval, and received bids for the construction of the facility.

The plan also details a commitment to fully fund a research institute at the University of Technology, and provide $130,000 per year for 25 years to a local charity.

The sticking point for the project is now getting national provider PNG Power to sign a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) before energy could be sold to the country’s grid.

PNG Power’s acting managing director Carolyn Blacklock said they had received four “unsolicited” PPA proposals from Mayur over several years, without a public tender process, and that it was unlikely a deal would be signed without a competitive bidding process.

But Mr Mulder said the company received a written request for a PPA and was provided with PNG Power documentation to submit, which they did in March 2016.

The ABC has sighted a letter that appears to be from then-director of strategic planning and business development Chris Bais dated October 2015, which “welcomes” Mayur to submit a PPA proposal.

Ms Blacklock took on the acting managing director job earlier this year following a reshuffle of the company’s board and has overseen a massive restructure of the company.

She said regardless of what correspondence the company had engaged in to date, PNG Power had no obligation to accept any PPA proposal.

“In PNG we have very high costs over power, in part driven because what has been done at PNG Power: uncompetitive processes that have led to uncompetitive prices that leads to uncompetitive tariffs for our consumers,” Ms Blacklock told the ABC.

Meanwhile Energy Minister Sam Basil was quoted in the press release as saying “there is no cheaper alternative ready to be built” and that it was time for PNG Power to “act swiftly” to finalise the agreement.

“It doesn’t mean just because there’s pressure applied, that the PNG Power board or myself or management are going to be swayed,” Ms Blacklock said.

A month ago, Mayur resources was floated on the Australian Stock Exchange and raised $15.5 million in an over-subscribed initial public offering — money they say will go towards developing further projects in PNG.

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Institutions Should Include Alluvial Mining Training, Says Basil

alluvial miners at work

Alluvial miners at work on Bougainville

Jerry Sefe | Post Courier | August 17, 2018

Major tertiary institutions in the country must be given the opportunity to involve facilitating trainings and safety regulation in the alluvial mining sector.

Member for Bulolo and Minister for Information and Communications Technology and Energy Sam Basil made the call to the Mineral Resources Authority on Tuesday during day one of its 4th Alluvial Mining and Tradeshow convention held in Lae.

“I want to encourage MRA involve our research and tertiary institutions including University of Papua New Guinea, PNG University of Technology and University of Natural Resource and Environment in our collaborative efforts in alluvial mining and the environmental impacts and safety,” said Mr Basil.

Basil said these institutions are academically and professionally equipped with knowledge, expertise and innovations to expand the sector and in this partnership the country can make a difference in challenging times when resource scarcity and sustainability is concerned.

He said the challenges of the alluvial mining observed from in Bulolo district is the safety aspects that needs to be more regulated when unsafe practices are becoming an increasing concern especially with miners using the underground mining techniques where they dig through tunnels.

“This has resulted in numerous deaths over the years. This is because of the alluvial resource knowledge has always been a barrier in advancing the alluvial mining operations” said Mr Basil.

Basil said it is a must that all concerned stakeholders join forces and embrace the new developments in this era of alluvial mining because the alluvial mining sector is owned by Papua New Guineans using downstream processing.

“This area must be carefully considered because it has a high potential to enhance multiple revenue streams through maximum participation of our rural populace.”

He said MRA as the concerned regulator must strive in its efforts in maintaining safety practices within the alluvial mining communities.

Basil added that environmental compliance is another issue that must be strictly regulated by the Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) however mentioned that CEPA are yet to be fully aware of what is happening within the alluvial mining sector.

“I am aware of the financial requirements of the sector in supporting alluvial miners therefore as local MP for Bulolo we will be fully supporting our local miners through our district development authority” he said.

Meanwhile, the minister also commended MRA’s initiative in the alluvial resource mapping programs currently taking place in Bulolo to build the resource inventory of the district.

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