Tag Archives: Simberi mine

How do miners dispose of their waste in the sea?

MCC’s Basamuk Refinery in Madang pumps waste from the Ramu mine directly into the ocean

Melanie Burton | Reuters | October 11, 2019

Sea disposal of mining waste could spread as Indonesia weighs adopting the technique for new nickel projects, as Papua New Guinea is doing for a gold mine proposed by Australia’s Newcrest Mining.

The management of mining waste has drawn attention since two dam disasters in Brazil, and after red mud spilled into Papua New Guinea’s Basamuk Bay from Ramu Nickel’s operations in August.

An expert in chemical contamination has called test results from the Ramu Nickel spill “alarming,” media said this week. That spill resulted from an operational failure, however, rather than an issue with tailings management.

Proponents say deep sea tailings placement, which pipes unwanted pulverized rock into the sea, is cheaper and less harmful, especially on tropical islands where earthquakes or heavy rain limit storage on land, near deep sea trenches.

Critics say the impact of such marine disposal is poorly understood.

Fewer than 20 of the world’s 2,500 mines use the method to dispose of tailings waste, comprising rock, microscopic unwanted metals and traces of processing agents, such as cyanide.

Here are answers to some common questions, drawn from two research papers by Australia’s science bureau, the CSIRO.

WHAT IS DEEP SEA TAILINGS PLACEMENT?

Mining waste goes down a pipe 100 m (328 ft) or more offshore designed to sink rapidly to even greater depths, such as those off the continental shelf. The waste settles on parts of the ocean floor believed to be home to few creatures.

That keeps the waste out of the ocean’s most productive surface layer, where sunlight drives photosynthesis, and sealife is most abundant.

After the mine has closed, advocates say the deposit area will gradually be recolonised by the marine life and bacteria that were there before, as they now move back from surrounding areas.

WHEN WAS IT FIRST USED?

The first commercial use of deep sea tailings placement was at the Island Copper mine on Canada’s Vancouver Island in 1971 to 1996. Industry regarded that as a success, though it was also found to have affected the lake’s biodiversity. Some other early mines, such as Greenland’s Black Angel lead and zinc mine, however, contaminated surrounding water bodies.

WHERE IS DSTP USED NOW?

  • The Lihir gold mine in PNG run by Newcrest Mining. The Melbourne-based miner also proposed DSTP for its Wafi Golpu project with South Africa’s Harmony Gold.
  • The Simberi gold mine operated by Australian miner St. Barbara in PNG’s New Ireland province.
  • The Ramu nickel mine and plant run by Metallurgical Corporation of China in PNG’s Madang Province.
  • Batu Hijau, Indonesia’s second largest copper mine, run by PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara.
  • Australia’s Kingston Resources is considering reopening PNG’s Misima gold mine and using DSTP.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

ECOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: A quarter of the world’s coral reefs faced rising exposure to sediments and nutrients, boosting stress from climate change and ocean acidification, Australia’s science agency said in 2016. Greater sediment could smother coral or choke off sunlight or oxygen, it said.

SUSPENSION: Fine dust or metal particles remain suspended in the ocean instead of settling on the sea floor. They can “shear off” in plumes, widely dispersed by ocean currents, and travel between layers of varying salinity or temperature.

The impact on marine life is not fully understood, but coral near the Lihir tailings disposal site suffered a “substantial impact,” according to the paper.

Plankton could be trapped in suspended solids and fine particles could clog the gills of fish, it added.

MIGRATION: Marine animals could carry trace elements of mine waste into the food supply chain after ingesting them and then moving to shallow waters from the deep ocean.

DEEP SEA: Wider use of DTSP could affect deepwater canyons and abyssal or underwater plains that are high in biodiversity, according to the research.

RECOLONISATION: Ocean warming and acidification could hamper efforts to recolonise a DTSP area, it added. (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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St Barbara resolves Simberi dispute

Simberi Gold Mine

Australian Mining | March 15, 2018

St Barbara has resumed full operations at the Simberi gold mine in Papua New Guinea following “illegal” industrial action at the site.

The Australian gold miner halted production at the site last week for safety reasons as management attempted to resolve the dispute.

In an ASX announcement, St Barbara reported that a contingent of the mine’s workforce initiated the industrial action. Around 40 per cent of the mine’s workforce remained at work during the stoppage, it added.

Mediation, led by representatives from the PNG Department of Labour and Industrial Relations, has since resolved the stoppage, with full operations resuming late yesterday.

“The stoppage was primarily due to misunderstandings regarding leave provisions and other employment conditions, which have now been clarified,” according to St Barbara.

Simberi has produced 93,000oz of gold this financial year. St Barbara expects the mine will achieve full-year guidance of between 115,000–125,000oz of gold despite the interruption.

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Work stops at Simberi


Esmarie Swanepoel| Mining Weekly | 12 March 2018

Gold miner St Barbara has suspended work at its Simberi operations, in Papua New Guinea, following illegal work stoppages by a contingent of the workforce.

The miner told shareholders on Monday that production was halted on March 7, for safety reasons, while management attempted to resolve the stoppage. Some 40% of the workforce remained at work during the illegal industrial action.

The company noted that despite efforts to resolve the stoppage, no progress had been made towards a resolution by Sunday. To breach the impasse, site management informed the workforce that the work stoppage was not in accordance with Papua New Guinea law, and that any employee who did not present for work on Monday, would have their employment terminated.

However, St Barbara on Monday deferred the termination of employees who did not present for work, after some progress was made in negotiations, and in anticipation of the arrival of representatives from the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations.

A remediation will be led by the department to address the remaining concerns behind the stoppages.

The miner expected process plant operations to restart on March 13, on a day-shift-only roster, while limited mining operations will resume with the national workforce and some local islanders and existing contractors.

Despite the stoppages, the Simberi operation is still expected to achieve its full-year production guidance of between 115 000 oz and 125 000 oz of gold

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New Ireland refuses to sign Simberi MOA approved by NEC

State Solicitor’s office accused of dishonesty 

Sharon Lowa | Post Courier | May 22, 2017

The New Ireland provincial government has refused to sign the Simberi Gold Mine memorandum of agreement recently approved by the National Executive Council (NEC) in April.

Deputy governor and chairman for natural resources in the provincial executive council Ambrose Silul said they are sick and tired of being misled by the state team negotiating the new MoA for both Simberi and Lihir Gold Mines.

Mr Silul insists that the state keep its word, and until it does, the New Ireland government will not sign any new MoA.

The New Ireland team had been renegotiating the Simberi MoA for over four years and a provisional MoA had been agreed in 2013, but that it was conditional on approval by the PEC.

“Our team wrote to the state team and Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) on October 6, 2013 that the draft MoA must include the provisions approved by the New Ireland PEC on May 21, 2013.

“That includes increasing the rate of royalties from two percent (FOB) annual revenues to 10 percent, as well as similar increases in the special support grant and tax credit scheme,” Mr Silul said.

Mr Silul further stated that the state solicitor’s office agreed that the changes the New Ireland government wanted made to the MoA would be included in the draft to go to the NEC.

He said that in a meeting in April 2015 in Kavieng, the state solicitor agreed they would include New Ireland’s provisions in both the Lihir and Simberi MoAs and allow the NEC to make a final decision.

“All we are asking is that NEC – and not the state bureaucrats – decide on the merits of our suggestions. Instead, we have a bunch of bureaucrats making decisions that should be made by NEC.”

“We will not accept this dishonesty on the part of the state team,” Mr Silul said.

Mr Silul is calling on the mining minister to conduct an immediate investigation into this affair.

The MRA mining coordinators and the state solicitor’s office deliberately and willfully misled the NEC by submitting an MoA that did not include the provisions they promised would be included.

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Newcrest begins exploration on Tatau island

The National aka The Loggers Times | May 2, 2017

THE Newcrest Mining Limited is conducting exploration on Tatau Island in New Ireland for copper and gold deposits.
In its recently released quarterly report, it said exploration had begun on Tatau Island as part of Newcrest’s option and farm-in agreement with St Barbara Limited to look for copper-gold porphyry-related deposits.
Tatau is an island in the Tabar Group to the east of New Ireland and about a mile south of Simberi Island.
According to Newcrest, target generation exploration is presently being conducted over several priority porphyry target areas to define future drill targets.
In a recent interview, New Ireland Provincial Government Mining, Lands and Commerce director Brian Hosea told The National that the provincial government was in consultation with Mineral Resources Authority regarding the project.
“We are in consultation with MRA. That is still on the drawing board,” Hosea said.
“We need to have things in place like briefing the Governor (to see) where we want to go. We also need to have all agreements signed – landowner agreements, memorandum of agreements, integrated benefit packages to do with the project.”
The province has Newcrest’s Lihir gold mining project and St Barbara’s Simberi operation. Nautilus Minerals is also developing the first seabed mining project in the province.
Hosea had previously said NIPG had been working closely with local landowners as the province will now play host to three mining projects.
He said the provincial government is aware of the importance of local participation in the mining projects.

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St Barbara and PNG Industry News airbrush history

St Barbara may be repaying its debts to the bank, but what about its debts to the people of the Solomon Islands, who have been abandoned by St Barbara and left with an environmental disaster on their doorstep – a decision condemned as ‘immoral’ by the Solomon Islands Environment Ministry – Australian real estate investor circles Solomons ‘disaster’ gold mine

St Barbara repays last of debt

Simberi Gold Mine

Simberi Gold Mine

DIVIDENDS and acquisitions are well and truly likely for St Barbara after the gold miner repaid the last of its $US20 million debt.

PNG Industry News | 15 February 2017

The company will repurchase the final $20 million in aggregate principal of its US senior secured notes next months at a 3.3% premium to par value.

The repurchase will reduce future interest expense by around $A2.4 million per annum.

The repurchase, to amount to $US21 million, will be repaid from cash reserves.

St Barbara, which operates the Simberi gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s New Ireland Province, expects cash after the repurchase to be around $A70 million.

In the past 18 months, St Barbara has repaid $436 million in debt and will have only equipment leases of less than $1 million outstanding after the final note repurchase.

St Barbara managing director and CEO Bob Vassie said the repayment of the debt would inform the board’s consideration of future dividends in conjunction with growth options.

The company plans to internally fund the $85-95 million Gwalia extension project.

“We can afford our future at Gwalia,” Vassie told the Sydney Mining Club earlier this month.

While he described Gwalia as the “gift that goes on giving”, he noted that the company was very reliant on the Leonora operation.

Vassie said the company was keen to add another 250,000 ounce per annum, long-life mine, and would now be able to take advantage of value-accretive opportunities as they arose.

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St Barbara considers dividend payment

Abandoned Gold Ridge mine processing plant. (Stefan Armbruster SBS)

St Barbara shareholders set to cash in after abandoning Solomon Islands mine – funny how The Australian manages to leave out the whole Gold Ridge saga from its story…

The Australian newspaper airbrushes history and completely ignores the fact St Barbara was condemned as ‘immoral’ by the Solomon Islands Environment Ministry for selling its abandoned ‘disaster’ mine to traditional landowners for A$100.

Read More: Australian real estate investor circles Solomons ‘disaster’ gold mine

The West Australian via The National aka The Loggers Times | January 20, 2017

ST BARBARA is weighing the potential for dividend payments as the cashed-up gold miner closes in on an end to its debt nightmares, according to the mine.
St Barbara’s assets include the Leonora operations in Western Australia and the Simberi operation in New Ireland.
Managing director Bob Vassie admitted in an analyst conference call yesterday that the St Barbara’s board was facing pressure from shareholders to outline a dividend policy as the company built its cash war-chest and eyed debt-free status.
Its position is a far cry from 2014, when St Barbara owed about AU$320 million and was on corporate death row as the gold price weakened.
It produced 99,000 ounces of gold from its Leonora and PNG operations in the December quarter, spitting out AU$76 million in free cash flow and repaying AU$121 million of debt.
It will pay another AU$20 million before the month’s end and says lenders will be fully repaid in March.
St Barbara had AU$87 million cash at the end of December and 14,500oz of unsold gold worth about AU$23 million.
It plans to spend AU$85m to $95m on a ventilation and waste infill project that will take the miner to the bottom of its Gwalia mine’s known reserve – 2000m below the surface.
Vassie said St Barbara was looking at growth options, including acquisitions and AU$22 million of exploration.

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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.

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“Simberi mine improving” – but for who?

simberi

St Barbara can boast that its Simberi mine “is improving” – but what does that mean and who is reaping the benefits?

Improved production levels and cash earnings are great for foreign shareholders and the Chairman’s fat annual bonus – but does that mean anything for local people, forced to look on as spectators on their own land without decent government services and a ruined environment?

Simberi mine improving: Chairman
Gedion Timothy | The National aka The Loggers Times | December 1 2016
ST Barbara’s Simberi gold mine in New Ireland has seen continued improvement this year, justifying the company’s decision to preserve with what was an under-performing asset in 2014, says chairman Tim Netscher.
Netscher told the company’s annual general meeting in Melbourne, Australia that Simberi “is now demonstrably confirmed as a reliable earner of cash, exceeding its target production rate of 100,000 ounces per annum for six consecutive quarters”.
“With the sensible use of hedging, we have ensured that Simberi will stay cash-positive regardless of gold price conditions for the remainder of this financial year,” Netscher said.
“During the year, we determined that we should conduct a strategic review of our PNG assets, considering the commercial opportunities available from divestment or joint venture or retaining both the operating and extensive exploration assets of Simberi.
“This review has been completed and we announced the results earlier this month.
“The results are:

  • That we will retain Simberi as an operating asset, and all gold oxide and sulphide exploration opportunities in the Tabar Island group;
  • That we will joint-venture with Newcrest the exploration of copper-gold porphyry prospects on Tatau and Tabar Islands;
  • That we will not, based on the existing reserves, resources and feasibility study, invest in sulphide mining and processing on Simberi at this time but will continue with studies of opportunities to improve the economics of this project.

Simberi is the northern most island in the Tabar group of islands in New Ireland.

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St Barbara retains PNG assets, forms exploration JV with Newcrest

simberi

Simberi island

Esmarie Swanepoel | Mining Weekly | 14 November 2016

Gold miner St Barbara Gold has decided to retain its Simberi operations, in Papua New Guinea, following a strategic review.

The company in February this year launched the review to evaluate “various options” for the assets, including continued ownership, exploration and development, possible joint ventures and divestment of some or all of its assets in the country.

St Barbara said on Monday that while a number of potential buyers had expressed interest in the Papua New Guinea assets, their level of interest did not meet the company’s assessment of the value of the assets.

Instead, the company has inked an option and farm-in agreement with gold miner Newcrest’s Papua New Guinea exploration arm, for copper/gold porphyry exploration on the tenements on nearby Tatau and Big Tabar Island, subject to the completion of conditions precedent.

The agreement gives Newcrest the option to earn a 75% joint venture interest on tenement holdings, and will require Newcrest to pay an initial $3-million in exploration fees over a two-year option period, conducting 4 000 m of diamond drilling.

The company can then earn a majority share in the projectareas by spending a further $25-million in exploration and drilling 32 000 m of diamond drilling, over two stages ranging up to six years.

Under the agreement, St Barbara will manage the explorationduring the initial earn-in period, and will retain the right over all oxide and sulphide material which is, or has the potential to be mill feed for existing oxide or the contemplated sulphide plant at Simberi.

In addition, St Barbara will spend between A$6-million and A$7-million in 2017 on its own exploration across the Tabar Island group, including Simberi.

MD and CEO Bob Vassie told shareholders on Monday that the strategic review had been rigorous, and that the company had tested each strategic option for the future of the Papua New Guinea assets.

“What we own in the Papua New Guinea would be difficult to replace in the current market. St Barbara’s diligent work over the last few years has successfully turned around the Simberi operation, which is now consistently generating good cash flows.

“The prospectivity of the region, and the potential for exploration discovery on the Tabar Island group is demonstrated by the significant option and farm-in agreements with Newcrest.”

Vassie said that the gold miner’s focus was on continuing exploration work to extend the oxide mine life at Simberi, improve the sulphide opportunity, maximise the value from exploration interest, and work with Newcrest to achieve success from the joint exploration

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