Tag Archives: Wari Iamo

Don’t be fooled by Iamo’s self serving lies

From PNG Exposed

It was laughable listening to Wari Iamo, Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation, serve up his crticism of the Environment Amendment Act last week, when he was instrumental in supporting its passage through Parliament in May 2010.

Iamo, so long the willing puppet of Papua New Guinea’s destructive logging industry, its worst mining industry polluters and the corrupt government of Michael Somare, wants us to now believe he was always against the Environment Amendment Act, thought it should never have been passed and he viewed the changes, which heaped more discrtionary power in his hands, were unconstitutional from the outset.

What self-serving rubbish Wari!

You were 110% happy to collude with the Chinese mining company, MCC, and the National Alliance party of Michael Somare to ensure the amendments were passed.

Just as you have happily sat on the National Forest Board approving millions of hectares of unsustainable and destructive logging by your mates at Rimbunan Hijau.

And just as you have happily approved each of the Special Agriculture and Business Leases which have unlawfully stolen 5 million hectares of land from its traditional owners.

In 2006 the Ombudsman Commission recommended Iamo be sacked for his role in illegally allocating 850,000 hecatres of forest in Kamula Doso to Rimbunan Hijau totally outside the proper processes of the Forestry Act.

Papua New Guinea would have been a better place and its environment better protected if that recommendation had been executed.

While the new Environment Minister might be fooled by Iamo’s twisted lies and attempts to ingratiate himself with his new political masters in Waigani, the Prime Minister and his Deputy, Belden Namah, won’t be so easy to con.

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Don’t blame the miners, the problem is our corrupt leaders

By Professor  Roman Grynberg* 

I now live in Botswana. It is the great mainstream counter-example to the argument that mining is inherently destructive. Botswana exports one third of the world’s diamonds. It is hardly what I would call a great example of good government despite what the World Bank says,  but it is a good deal better (or at least was in the first 30 years of mining) than what I have seen in PNG or other resource rich countries in the islands region.

The reason is political- the elite here has reinvested the massive diamond reserves in the infrastructure and education of the country. You can see the diamonds in the roads, the schools, the dams, and the hospitals.

In defense of PNG, it does not nor never had anything like the huge Jwaneng diamond mine here in Botswana. To dig out one dollar of diamonds costs roughly 10 cents. It is the richest piece real estate on earth. The government cut an OK deal with De Beers and makes billions every year.

The elite in the mineral rich Pacific countries may have had many friends to spend and abuse the mineral and forestry resources on but they had a choice to use those resources with some wisdom or to squander them. They chose the latter and in Botswana, while they were very imperfect and made many mistakes but they did not steal, misappropriate, mismanage the mineral wealth on a massive scale.

In the end of course it will make little difference because once the diamonds are gone the wealth that was generated will not likely be sustainable and now there is evidence that the new generation of the Botswana elite is not behaving like the older generation. Corruption is growing and becoming more prevalent.

The difference between countries that have succeeded and failed ultimately rests with the quality of their ruling elite and the decisions they make. Generally speaking mining has had an awful track record in the developing world because governments have abused this wealth. Those countries with a genuinely developmental elite have prospered (eg Malaysia) and those with a parasitic elite (eg Philippines) that does not do anything but steal from its people see the non-renewable wealth of the nation in the bank accounts of the rulers.  This cannot be blamed on mining or logging per se but the decisions of those who rule.

*Senior Research Fellow, Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis


Filed under Corruption, Papua New Guinea

Bulolo MP slams Hidden Valley mine and govt over environmental damage

Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold, owners of the Hidden Valley mine, and the Papua New Guinea government’s Department of Environment  and Conservation came under intense fire today over the environmental approval process and suspicions of waste disposal into the Watut River system.

Bulolo MP Sam Basil had both the company and DEC in his sights as he unleashed a scathing attack beginning with the delay in responding to the people’s petition , which took 22 months, the approval of a seemingly-flawed environmental management plan as well as questionable practice in monitoring and assessing key environmental indicators.

Drawing from the SMEC report commissioned by DEC after the September 2009 people’s petition to carry out an independent environmental performance audit of Hidden Valley Gold Mine, Basil said:

“It took the entire 2010 for DEC to work with MMJV to get their act together before this face-to-face meeting with the people.

“I believe DEC would not have responded to the issues or formed the expert committee if there was no petition from us.”

Basil pointed out that the SMEC Report between June 6, 2010 and November 19, 2010 went through a total of three revisions.

The main key objectives of the audit were:

  1. To assess mine performance with regard to permitting compliance and environmental management;
  2. To assess offsite impacts due to historic and current mine activities; and
  3. Therefore, enhance DEC’s capacity to effectively monitor and regulate the future operation of the mine as well as provide the basis for the formulation of an appropriate response to the Watut River community.

“The SMEC report confirmed that from the two permits (waste discharge and water extraction) issued in April 2006 to March 2010, there were a total of 10 non-compliances and 30 partial compliance conditions out of the total 73 conditions,” Basil said.

“This is 54.8% non or partial compliance to the permits issued by DEC.

“Not only that, the environmental management plan (EMP) which was granted with 11 conditions in April 2006 was not updated by March 2010 audit.

“The EMP did not significantly meet ISO 14000 – an international standard on environmental management.

“The report confirmed that the environmental management is not properly co-ordinated and there has been generally poor response in resolving permit non-compliances.

“What my people and I fail to understand is how despite the EMP for MMJV project not being compliant to ISO 14000, DEC saw fit to allow the project to go ahead.

“Permit No. WD-L3 (50) was also not followed.

“The EMP was said to have been updated since August 2009. Coincidently, that might have been triggered again by the petition we handed in September 2009.”

Referring to details in the report, the Bulolo MP added:

“The report confirmed that the soil and surface water and erosion management requirements were not fully implemented across the site.

“There were significant erosion issues associated with unstable slopes and waste dumps.

“There is no permit limit or adopted target for suspended solids concentration in water drainage off the site.

“DEC has again failed to establish clearly the target for suspended solid concentration in water drainage off the site.

“That alone should result in disallowing MMJV to discharge waste excessively off site.

“The report also pointed out that the waste management was not done in accordance with the waste management Plan.

“There was no waste register or evidence that waste minimisation and re-use programmes were fully implemented across the site.

“The landfill was poorly located and managed, and posed an ongoing environmental risk.

“This significantly throws away the principle of sustainable mining practice.

“So where have all the hazardous and toxic mine wastes generated over the years gone to?

“Where were they disposed of? It does not take a rocket scientist to work out they were disposed into the Watut River!

“There was no thorough ground water monitoring done to assess the bioavailability of hydrocarbons, VOC, PCB, and other environmental persistent chemicals.

“The SMEC report confirmed that these waste treatment systems appear to be overloaded and unable to treat wastewater to permit standards.

“There was potential for downstream pathogenic and nutrient contamination, which poses a health threat to downstream inhabitants.

“This indicates high potential of raw wastewater discharge downstream.

“ Riverine communities and alluvial miners can and may still be easily be affected.

“Highly raw pathogenic contamination of the river system which can easily affect/influence the river health balance.

“That in turn is highly unhygienic and harmful, especially when the river communities use the river for drinking, laundry and washing cooking utensils daily.

“This also has the potential of aggravating skin irritation and affects small sores or cuts on the epidermal layer of the skin especially on the foot or below the waist line.

“Issues raised by pregnant women bathing or crossing the river resulting in other health concerns can also be clearly linked to this.”

Adding to this quotes from other relevant reports including one commissioned by MMJV itself, Basil said:

“These are very serious – and dangerous flaws.

“Their impact and implications are long-lasting on the water source health and even lives of the people.

“They signal a lack of confidence in MMJV as a trustworthy development partner and investor.

“But worse of all, the attitude of the Department of Environment and Conservation together with the Minister involved, to these issues completely goes against the democratic idea of governance.

“Instead of democratic governance being for the people – this is completely against the people.

“This is the reason why there is growing pressure for the government to relinquish its option on equity in mining projects to landowners, LLGs and the districts and assume the role of being regulator and tax collector more.

“When the alternative government is in office, we will pursue this as a policy so there is clear demarcation between the government’s role as compliance regulator and tax collector, the private sector and investors’ role as developers, and the landowner’s role and interests

“I hope my presentation – based on the hard work of many experts and professionals – will cause all stakeholders to do the right thing  for all our collective benefit  and especially the people living along the riverine areas from near the mine site all the way to the coast of Huon Gulf.”


Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Post Courier: Ok Tedi back in operation

By Harlyne Joku

The suspension of Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) was lifted last Friday, enabling the mine to resume operations after almost a month of closure.

The decision was made at a debrief on Friday by a ministerial delegation who visited the OTML’s pyrite pipeline spillage areas and assessed the clean up measures taken by the mine on Thursday since the pipeline ruptures began on May 6 this year.
The State team signed a change notice which agreed that operations at the mine should resume and the mine to compensate the people affected by the pyrite spillage and build two tailings disposal dams.

The ministerial delegation, comprising Mining Minister John Pundari, Environment Minister Benny Allen, North Fly MP Boka Kondra and Mineral Resources Authority officer in charge Phillip Samar, Secretary and Deputy Secretary for Environment and Conservation Dr Wari Iamo and Michael Wau, Deputy Secretary for Mining Shadrach Himata, First Secretary for Mining Simeon Wai, First Secretary to Environment Minister John Aruga, MRA Coordinator James Top and the Western Province Administrator William Goinau.

Mr Allen confirmed the lifting of the suspension, saying that the mine shall resume and adhere to strict conditions.
The first condition is that OTML must pay compensation to the communities in the affected areas of the 128 kilometer pipeline and for OTML to build two tailings disposal dams at the mine site.

While the dam is being built, the company will dispose its waste down the Ok Tedi River and stockpile the pyrite at the mine site.

Mr Allen said there will be two studies conducted by the mine and an independent consultant before the amount to be paid for compensation is determined.
Communities at Ningerum and Matkomnai demanded to be compensated for the water environment damages.
They called on the multi-billion kina Ok Tedi Mine to cease operations when the ministerial delegation visited the pyrite rupture areas and communities along the Tabubil Kiunga Highway last Thursday.

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Simberi mine warned: one more spill and you are out

By Harlyne Joku*

One more spillage and the Simberi gold mine will be completely shut down, the director of Environment Dr Wari Iamo warned yesterday.
Dr Iamo said the leakage incident at the mine’s mix tailings disposal system in the New Ireland Province in March spoke volumes of the strength of the current deep sea disposal system in place.

“We hope this is the first and last spillage of this nature and we hope the entire system is protected. They must take this incident and our warning seriously and operate with care,” Dr Iamo said.

He gave the warning yesterday after members of the Environment Council met the same day and reviewed his (Dr Iamo’s) decision to issue an Environment Protection Order (EPO) against the company on March 16.
The Council, headed by temporary chairman addressing the Simberi slurry discharge case, Dr Simon Saulei, decided to lift the order after submissions from Simberi lawyers and independent invesigator Cardno Acil.

The company reported a leakage in its mixed tailings disposal system in early March to the Department of Environment and Conservation and advised it was doing its best to stop the leakage.
The DEC acted swiftly and sent its officers to investigate.

For the first time ever in the history of DEC and its monitoring of mining operations, the director issued an Environment Protection Order (EPO) on March 16 stopping the operation of the mine to allow for an independent investigation.
Dr Saulei said the company lawyers made a convincing submission to the council yesterday that the company had complied with the requirements of the EPO.

* First published in the Post Courier


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DEC failing to regulate the mining industry

Watut Reporter

MP Sam Basil has criticized the Department of Conservation (DEC) for failing to regulate the mining industry in Papua New Guinea and ensure its operations are environmentally safe.

“DEC has a responsibility on behalf of the Nation to ensure that mining operations are safe and will not damage the environment. Yet time after time the mines end up causing massive problems while DEC sits by and watches”

“We have already had massive pollution from Bougainville, Ok Tedi, Tolukuma and Porgera mines and sadly now it is the same with the Hidden Valley project. The PNG Government through DEC is telling the world that mining with pollution is normal in PNG and the people must accept that fact”.

Mr Basil has recently filed legal proceedings against the Hidden Valley mine in his constituency over its pollution of the Watut river.

“It is not good enough for Minister Benny Allen to say DEC received an environmental audit report on the Hidden Valley mine in May this year and will be working on an environmental improvement plan.”

If the Minister’s sponsored report audit says the river is safe then I will invite the minister to Watut River to consume a litre of Watut River to prove to me that the rivers is safe.

“Where is the report? Why have I not been given a copy? Why don’t the landowners who are suffering the impacts of the pollution have a copy? Is DEC trying to cover up things for the mining company? The report should be released immediately”.

Mr Basil says DEC should also explain why it gave the Hidden Valley mine an environmental permit in the first place and how it is the company was able to pollute the Watut river without DEC noticing anything was wrong.

“DEC, like MRA, is supposed to be protecting landowners and our environment, not facilitating mining on the cheap”.

Mr Basil says he has instructed his lawyers to look into whether DEC and the Minister could be legally held liable for the damage the mine has caused.

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Controversial DEC Secretary waits for new contract

The employment contract of controversial Secretary for the Department of Environment and Conservation, Wari Iamo, expired on 15 March and has not yet been renewed.

Iamo is a controversial figure, frequently accused of being too close to the mining and logging industries in Papua New Guinea.

Iamo has been cricised for his role in approving numerous illegal and unsustainable logging permits as a member of the National Forest Board, and in 2005 the Ombudsman Commission recommended his removal.

Iamo has also been accused of financial mismanagement [1] including failing to manage various trust accounts properly, misusing donor funds and failing to acquit Departmental travel allowances.

In 2002, a scam was revealed involving the Maggi Seafood restaurant in Port Moresby where DEC spent more than K150,000 in less than 9 months.

It is believed that the receipts were used for ‘double-dipping’ in which the restaurant was really paid less than the invoiced amount, with the balance being returned to OEC staff. This was exposed in a television documentary, and also in local newspapers but when his Minister tried to initiate disciplinary proceeding against Iamo, the Minister was sacked by the Prime Minister, Michael Somare.

[1] http://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/deloitte-highly-critical-of-dec-financial-managment/

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Ramu mine fires up production

Local villagers living around the Ramu nickel mine processing plant at Basamuk in Madang province, Papua New Guinea, say the plant has been operating since last week and report seeing thick smoke over the factory.

The mine owners, Chinese MCC and Australian based Highlands Pacific, are currently prevented by a court injunction from pumping processing waste into the sea, but villagers say the mine executives are claiming all waste is currently being stored in tanks on the land.

The villagers, though are suspicious about whether MCC and Highlands Pacific might be using the waste pipeline. This is because during a court hearing in February the company admitted that it had commissioned the pipeline and pumped several tons of mine waste into the sea – in apparent contravention of the court injunction which has been in place since last year.

The current production at the processing plant also seems to contradict evidence given to the National Court by Department of Conservation Secretary, Wari Iamo, that no final environmental approval had yet been given for production to begin.


Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Ramu mine marine waste dumping trial – final update

Final submissions from the lawyers involved in the Ramu nickel mine waste dumping trial ended late Wednesday afternoon.

Charles Sceri QC for the mine owners, Chinese company MCC and Australian based Highlands Pacific, said there is no real evidence that damage will occur from the plaintiffs. Their lawyer exaggerated the possible harm in her submissions, he said,  and the permit given to MCC to proceed with the waste dumping has been approved by the Department of Environment and Conservation, which is a government agency, so the dumping cannot be unlawful.

The lawyer for the State, Mr Stevens asked the question, where were the landowners when the awarenesses and consultancies were carried out why are they only now raising their concerns? To that, Justice Cannings raised his voice and said, “are you saying they should not raise their concerns? They have the right but they were late!”

The plaintiff’s lawyer responded on this issue of delay: how can the landowners who depend on the sea give a report on the real damage that might be caused? They don’t have the money. Isn’t it the governments responsibility? Why should the plaintiffs have to wait until real damages appear? All the reports done so far have all talked about the uncertainties; there is no certainty so why shouldn’t there be more studies to say whether there’s going to be upwelling?

The case has now been adjourned to the 15th of April when the judge will give a confirmed date for his final ruling.


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Ramu nickel mine waste dumping trial update

Lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr, for the Plaintiff’s in the Ramu nickel mine waste dumping case has finished her closing submissions at the court house in Madang.

The plaintiff landowners are seeking a permaneent injunction preventing the dumping of 100 million tons of mine waste into their seas.

Their lawyer submitted that there has never been a proper environmental assessmental assesment report, and none that states what species of living organisms exist below 150 metres depth, what importance they have to the eco-system, which will be killed and will not be and how much effect will that have on the eco system. All these facts are vital for the plaintiffs to know, says their lawyer,  because their livelihood depends on the sea, but this assessment hasn’t taken place and the Department of Environment (DEC) has already issued a permit to go ahead with the mine waste dumping.  DEC Secretary, Dr Wari Iamo said in evidence that DEC doesn’t have the capacity to conduct a study on the waste dumping proposal. The plaintiffs have tried all proper avenues to raise their concerns. They have written letters to the State and Dr Wang of mine owners, MCC, but no one has attended to their concerns so they have had to resort to going to court. The plaintiffs own the land and have been living by the sea all their life and more weight should be given to their traditional knowledge. The Environmental Permit has been given regardless of numerous reports like the SAMS and Cardno Acil recommendations calling for more testing. All the plaintiff’s are asking for is for the mine to not dump into the sea.

The Defendants lawyers are now making their submissions.


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