Tag Archives: Zijin Mining

New watchdog to investigate Canadian companies for human rights abuses

Hilary Beaumont | Vice News | January 18, 2018

The Canadian government is creating a new watchdog to investigate human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating overseas, fulfilling a Liberal campaign promise.

Canadian companies have long faced accusations of human rights abuses abroad, including gang rapes by security guards at a mine in Papua New Guinea operated by Toronto-based Barrick Gold, and the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 workers who were making clothes for Joe Fresh, a brand owned by Canadian company Loblaws.

Canadian companies employ workers in developing countries to make clothing and mine materials that end up in electronics, but these mines and factories are often subject to lax regulations. When human rights abuses arise, there can be little recourse for complainants due to police corruption and weak justice systems on the ground, and lack of access to remedies through Canada’s courts.

‘RIGHT THING TO DO’

The new ombudsperson’s office will independently investigate abuse allegations against businesses operating overseas, including in the mining, textile and oil and gas sectors. The ombudsperson will have the power to request documents from companies and the power to gather testimony from witnesses. Canada’s trade minister François-Philippe Champagne said the ombudsperson will have “all the tools and resources to ensure compliance.” The watchdog’s recommendations will be made public, and the ombudsperson’s office will have the ability to withdraw government funding from companies.

There will also be a multi-stakeholder body to advise the ombudsperson and the government. That advisory body will include representatives from the mining, oil and gas and apparel sectors, as well as human rights and labour advocacy organizations, and an Indigenous representative.

“I’m adamant that Canada is to be second to none when it comes to business and human rights,” Canada’s trade minister François-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday. “This is not just the right thing to do, but that’s what Canadians expect from us.”

Advocacy organizations have waited more than a decade for this announcement, calling it “long overdue.” But critics are pointing out that the ombudsperson’s mandate will not include investigating environmental violations, which are often wound up in human rights abuses.

ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS

Liberal MP John McKay, who has pushed for mining industry oversight for years, stood next to the minister as he made the announcement. McKay’s private members bill to create a similar ombudsperson’s office was killed in 2010. It was only six votes short of passing.

Similar to the new ombudsperson’s office announced Wednesday, McKay’s bill called for the ability to withdraw government support and funding to companies found to be breaching human rights.

“The only significant difference is that they’re not going to do environmental investigations,” McKay told VICE News of the new ombudsperson. “Not quite sure why they arrived at that decision, but there’s a lot of interaction between environmental rights and human rights.”

Everlyn Guape, who was brutally sexually assaulted by security guards near the Barrick Gold mine in Porgera, Papua New Guinea, told VICE News she wanted to thank everyone who fought for the creation of the ombudsperson’s office.

Locals near the mine have also accused the company of contaminating their river. Guape added that “humanity depends on the environment,” so environmental abuses should also be investigated.

“This coexistence cannot be deliberately ignored by Canadian corporations and the government of Canada,” she warned.

‘INDEPENDENT AND EFFECTIVE’

Reacting to the government’s announcement, Barrick Gold said it supports the “additional accountability mechanism for Canadian businesses operating overseas, focused on dialogue and conflict resolution.”

“We look forward to engaging with the ombudsperson in a transparent and constructive manner, to assure Canadians that mining activities continue to generate economic and social benefits for host communities and governments, while respecting human rights.”

Advocacy organization Mining Watch Canada has been pushing for an effective ombudsperson since 2005, Catherine Coumans, the group’s research coordinator, said in a statement.

“We will continue to press the government to ensure that the ombuds office is independent and effective, and has adequate resources to do its job.”

Coumans added that additional measures still need to be taken, including allowing complainants access to Canadian courts to sue Canadian companies for rights violations overseas, and allowing communities free, prior and informed consent before new resource projects go ahead.

In a Canadian Network on Corporate Responsibility survey before the 2015 election, the Liberals stated they would “set up an independent ombudsman office to advise Canadian companies, consider complaints made against them, and investigate those complaints where it is deemed warranted.”

The Liberals also committed to act on the recommendations of a 2007 National Roundtable on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries.

But they have not committed to making Canada’s courts open to legal action from complainants in other countries.

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Police Officers shot at Porgera

George Kakas

TWO reservists from the police unit at Porgera in Enga Province are in hospital after they were ambushed and shot by gunmen on Sunday, police said.

PNG Industry News | 17 January 2018 

The National newspaper reported that Enga’s acting police commander chief superintendent George Kakas said one of the reservists was shot in the leg while the other suffered a stroke when they were attacked near Wali Creek, a few kilometres from the Porgera gold mine’s township.

The reservists in five patrol cars were going to investigate the aftermath of a violent confrontation between two tribes when they were attacked with automatic weapons, but no major injuries or fatalities were reported, Kakas said.

He said a bullet presumably fired from a high-powered rifle penetrated a patrol car and injured the officer’s leg. The other reservist suffered a stroke during the incident.

The men were flown to Wabag hospital and are now recovering, The National reported.

Kakas said the incident had culminated from a stand-off between two tribes who were claiming ownership of the Mount Kare land where the Pogera mine is situated.

The Porgera joint venture is an open pit and underground gold mine about 130km west of Mount Hagen.

Barrick Niugini is the 95% owner of the Porgera joint venture, and is the manager of the operation. Barrick Gold Corporation and Zijin Mining Group each own 50% of Barrick Niugini. The remaining 5% interest in the Porgera joint venture is held by Mineral Resources Enga and is divided between the Enga provincial government (2.5%) and local landowners (2.5%).

A tribe embroiled in this feud allegedly attacked villagers from a neighbouring tribe, setting fire to some houses at Wali Creek. 

Kakas said the reserve police officers and mine security personnel were dispatched to check on the safety of power pylons and water supply facilities when they were ambushed by gunmen from the surrounding mountains.

A peace and good order meeting was convened on Monday involving the provincial government, police and representatives of the Porgera mine.

Barrick Niugini was approached for comment yesterday but had not responded before this publication’s deadline.

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Call to Improve Dialogue Between Resource Owners and Stakeholders

Government urged not to renew the Porgera Special Mining Lease Agreement

Jack Lapauve Jnr. | EMTV | 14 December 2017 

President of Resource Owners Federation PNG is calling for an equal playing field between mining operators and resource owners.

President Jonathan Paraia told EMTV News, too many agreements or understandings are signed but 90 percent of that is not achieved.

Mr Paraia said the government and mining operators must consider the issues presented by resource owners. He says Resource Owners Federation of PNG has kept a tight lip over the years.

With more complaints raised by resource owners around the country, he says, the government and mining giants must pay equal consideration.

In the past 10 years, Papua New Guinea has seen a rise in explorations in the Oil, Gas and Mining sector. More explorations are ongoing with new mines and project sites identified.

Mr Paraia says if all stakeholders are given the attention needed, the standard of living including goods and services will improve very much in many communities where mining or oil and gas projects are in operation.

Meanwhile, he has urged the National Government not to renew the Porgera Special Mining Lease Agreement.

Mr Paraia says landowners demand an investigation into the issuing of water permits by the mining operator. Landowners say severe damages were done but remain unreported.

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No Renewal For Porgera

Post Courier | December 3, 2017

The Porgera Special Mining Lease area landowners have thrown in their support for the Governor Sir Peter Ipatas’s call not to issue any mining lease when it expires in 2019.

Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas has called on the National Government not to renew the Porgera Special Mining Lease when it expires in 2019, and further called for an investigation into the issuing of fraudulent water permit to Porgera Joint Venture.

In support of the Governor’s call, the Justice Foundation for Porgera Limited (JFPL), has already notified the registrar of mining tenements not to register the PJV’s application for the renewal of the SML, on the basis that a majority portion of the customary lands of the SML area, will not be available for mining purposes beyond 2019.

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Ipatas slams Govt over Porgera mine

Charmaine Poriambep | PNG Loop | 27 November, 2017

The Governor for Enga Province has lashed out at the National Government for not giving prominence to the Porgera Mine.

The mine will review its agreement in 2019, and Governor Sir Peter Ipatas claims there is no urgency by the Mining Department to commence preparations for the review.

The Enga Governor’s call during the grievances debate in Parliament comes after the operator of the mine, Porgera Joint Venture, lodged an application for renewal.

Governor Ipatas said the National Government and Department must not entertain the renewal until they revisit the agreement.

He said in 1989 when the first agreement was signed, many clauses where the then Premier wanted to be in the agreement were not included.

Ipatas said for the 2019 review, priority should be given to the provincial government so that the people of Enga can get some good returns.

He said the landowners and the provincial government have issues in relation to the mine but have kept quiet since the beginning of operation.

The Governor further expressed disappointment with the Department of Environment for issuing an environment permit to the mine, for water usage for the next 50 years, without consulting the provincial government and the people of Enga.

He said proper process should be followed as the mine is important for the province and the country.

He cautioned the Government and responsible Government departments to take these issues seriously and address them.

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Barrick calls for collaboration with MPs on ‘grim challenges’

Post Courier | October 10, 2017

In the face of a number of grimchallenges, the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mining operator Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL) has now called for greater cooperation from Engan members of parliament towards the achievement of the provinces’ development agenda.
At a recent briefing session with Engan leaders in Port Moresby, BNL executive managing director, Richmond Fenn highlighted a number of challenges that were impeding the progress of the provincial development agenda, which included; illegal mining, the state of the highlands highway, law and order, resettlement and the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) review.
Mr Fenn highlighted the management issues of the Porgera Development Authority (PDA), the Paiam Hospital and functions of the District Administration.
He also raised issues faced by the mine such as the proposed amendments to the Mining Act; the proposed amendment to the MRA Act and increasing the Tax Credit Scheme(TCS) rate.
“While some of the issues we can manage as a company, others are more complex and need considerable amounts of commitment from the government to make it work,” said Mr Fenn.
“The partnerships that we generate from these kinds of gatherings where we are required to work together on issues that affect us all, are of the utmost importance to us,’’ he said.
Engan governor Sir Peter Ipatas supported the call, adding that as a non-renewable venture, sufficient collaborative action needed to be taken to secure the future of Enga.
“We have to work to sustain Porgera to continue to provide services. The mine will come to an end.
In the future, the province will have to fall on its own economy,” said Sir Peter said.
“We have the right leadership and we have to incorporate our plans for development into the government agenda,” he said.
Sir Peter said the national government should consider funding arrangements for Enga’s special project plans, particularly through an increase in the TCS rate.
Given the mines history and contributions to the national economy for over 20 years.

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Ongoing unrest affecting Porgera mine operations

The National aka The Loggers Times | September 20, 2017

PORGERA mine operations have been disrupted by the ongoing unrest and roadblocks, according to mine operator Barrick Niugini Limited.

Executive managing director Richmond Fenn said it had significantly impacted communities and businesses in the district.

“The unrest and violence we have seen in recent weeks, combined with frequent road closures on the Highlands Highway, not only impact operations at the Porgera mine, but also prevent the movement of people and goods to and from the region,” Fenn said.

“We hope that the situation improves soon, and we are working to assist the government and community leaders in bringing about lasting peace in the area.”

The two-week closure of the Wabag-Porgera road was lifted yesterday but a truck belonging to iPi Transport was torched soon after.

iPi Transport general manager Maso Mangape told The National that the roadblock was set up by relatives of a boy alleged to have been killed by the security forces last month.

“As two of our trucks were returning empty from Porgera, one was held up or hijacked at the Liop-Ipai section of the road just before Laiagam, and torched. Nothing is recoverable,” Mangape said.

“We are yet to establish the reasons and motives behind this action. It was at around the same location that a local was held up in his bus and shot dead about two weeks ago.”

Roadblocks at Surunki, Jiwaka and Chuave in the past two months “have cost this company so much”.
Mangape said it was frustrating for road-users such as iPi servicing the giant Porgera gold mine and helping contribute to the economy of this country, pay taxes and create employment.

“It is disappointing to see the Government not acting promptly to address these issues on the road,” he said.

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