Tag Archives: Zijin Mining

Rising tide of opposition to large-scale mining in Papua New Guinea

Porgera Landowners protest against Barrick Gold (2018).

PNG Mine Watch

Opposition to large-scale mining in Papua New Guinea is becoming more and more visible as communities become much more vocal in expressing their anger and disapproval.

Both existing and proposed new mines are feeling the heat from landowners who are realising the benefits they are promised are illusory and it is they and their families who suffer the severe negative environmental and social consequences of large-scale resource extraction.

Landowners in Enga have lodged a US$13 billion claim against the government over unfilled promises and environmental and social damage from the Porgera mine. The miner is owned by Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining and has been operating since 1989.

Meanwhile landowners in Madang are petitioning the government not to allow a planned K5 billion expansion of the Ramu nickel mine and they want the existing Basamuk refinery shut down. Again, it is the lack of tangible benefits and the environmental and social costs that are angering local people.

Proposed new mines in Morobe and the Sepik are also facing opposition.

Last week, landowners in Morobe forced the evacuation of the site of the proposed Wafi-Golpu mine. They are unhappy at the terms of an MOU agreement signed by the government with the mine owners, Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining.

The landowners protest is supported by Morobe governor Ginson Saonu, who has already declared his opposition to the mine:

“People are not like before, when they had no knowledge, no idea, no education to read what’s happening in other parts of the world where there is environmental damage and so forth. Everybody is knowledgeable about what’s happening in other mines around the world, and even in Papua New Guinea like Ok Tedi, Bougainville and others.

The governor has identified agriculture and tourism as better development options in his Province.

At the same time, the Morobe Provincial government has passed a resolution rejecting the MOU for the mine and landowners living along the coast have declared their opposition to the planned dumping of toxic tailings in their seas.

The proposed Frieda river mine, to be developed by the Chinese company Guandong Rising Assets Management, is also facing strong opposition from landowners worried about the impacts of mining on the Sepik river, which is their lifeblood.

Communities have been organising their own protest meetings and have banned Mineral Resource Authority representatives from entering some areas.

Similarly, communities around the abandoned Panguna mine on Bougainville, have successfully petitioned against any moves to reopen the mine, forcing the Autonomous Bougainville Government and governor John Momis into an embarrassing climb down.

In another blow to the mining industry, Nautilus Minerals is on the brink of financial collapse, unable to complete preparations for its proposed experimental seabed mine, Solwara 1. Local communities and environmentalists have been waging a long running campaign against the mine.

Although the PNG government still seems determined to press ahead with new mining operations, the resistance from local communities, both those affected by existing mines and those threatened by the new operations, shows no signs of abating .

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Porgera Justice Foundation urges the government to be honest in mining laws

Jack Lapauve Jnr  | EMTV News | December 18, 2018

The chairman of the Papua New Guinea Justice Foundation has urged the government to serve the interest of resource owners.

Among environment damages and other issues, Chairman Jonathan Paraia believes people in the mining town have suffered enough.

A hefty sum to the tune of billions has been claimed as compensation for damages done, given the reason that developer Barrick has breached initial agreements signed in 1989.

For years the PNG Justice Foundation has spoken on behalf of the people affected by activities of the Porgera Mine.

Speaking in Port Moresby, the Chairman says the national Government as the regulator and middle man has denied serving the interest of resource owners.

“Landowners as we speak, they are suffering. Continuously mining 24 hours and foraging the environment and people are continuously suffering. They are drinking bad dirty poison water”, Chairman Jonathan Paraia said.

According to Chairman Paraia, Canadian company Barrick Gold Corporation has breached initial mining agreements.

Two months ago, the mining warden hearing was held at Paiam town. A majority of clans situated in the heart of the mining operation were against the Government and Mining Resource Authority not to renew the license of developer Barrick.

Meanwhile, at the recent Mining Conference in Sydney, Minister responsible, Johnson Tuke, acknowledged the compensation claim submitted by concerned landowners.

Chairman Paraia says the Government must consider the plea made by resource owners.

“Our claim is based on actual facts and in actual breaches of agreement. It’s not a makeup story like any other landowners in Papua New Guinea. Those are based on facts and law. There are more evidence to come.”

The arbitration will be held early next year, to iron out issues for the Porgera Mine.

For the Justice Foundation, they want to see fair consideration by the State and developer Barrick.

“They should take responsibility and look at meeting all the claims we are putting in”.

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US$13B Porgera Arbitration To Go Ahead, Says Tuke

“The dispute is a domestic issue involving the people of Porgera suing the government of PNG for breaches of contract, breach of the duty of care owed to the landowners of Porgera for damages including injury, loss and harm caused by the operation of the Porgera gold mine by Barrick Niugini Limited for over 29 years since it has commenced operation in Porgera in 1989.”

Yombi Kep | Post Courier | December 13, 2018

A US$13.28 billion arbitration notice served by a landowner group to the Department of Mining and the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) has been given the green light by the department responsible.

According to an interview with the Minister for Mining, the department has agreed to the arbitration notice served by the Porgera Gold Mine Landowners and the Justice Foundation for Porgera.

“The matter is registered with our office and we will just go through the international arbitration process,” said Johnson Tuke.

Mr Tuke said that arbitration is an international matter, and they will allow the arbitration process to go forward with it.

However, he said that a time and location is yet to be decided on by all the parties involved in the process.

The Department of Mining and the Department of Justice and Attorney General were served 13 arbitration documents requesting for arbitration on Friday November 30, 2018.

The service of a notice of arbitration or request for arbitration is the first formal step in arbitration. The parties are generally free to agree on how the arbitration proceedings are to commence before an Arbitrator under the United Nations system of Arbitration known as UNCITRAL.

Speaking on behalf of the landowners Barrister at Law and Counsel of the PNG Bar, Andrew Kostopoulos said that the landowners of the Special Mining lease which expires on May 12, 2019, are suing the government of PNG for US$13.28 billion.

“The dispute is a domestic issue involving the people of Porgera suing the government of PNG for breaches of contract, breach of the duty of care owed to the landowners of Porgera for damages including injury, loss and harm caused by the operation of the Porgera gold mine by Barrick Niugini Limited for over 29 years since it has commenced operation in Porgera in 1989.”

Chairman of Justice Foundation of Porgera Limited Jonathan Paraia said they have been working on the arbitration documents for the last seven years.

“We are requesting for arbitration. All the facts, complaints and issues that needs to be resolved are contained in the arbitration documents,” said Mr Paraia.

“The ball is now in their court, they have to decide on how the arbitration will proceed.”

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PNG landowners to challenge mine venture in court

A protest against Barrick Gold. Photo: Facebook/ Kelly Taila

Radio New Zealand | 22 November 2018 

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has ruled that a challenge against the Porgera gold mine in Enga province can proceed.

A group of landowners is challenging the validity of a mining lease for the Porgera Joint Venture’s open pit and underground operations.

The venture is 95 percent owned by Canadian company Barrick, and its Special Mining Lease is up for renewal next May.

Last week the national court issued a restraining order preventing the government and Barrick from progressing the renewal of the lease until next April because of the failure to consult with landowners as required by law.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera Limited lodged the challenge two years ago.

Its chairman Jonathan Paraia said the joint venture’s lease could not be renewed until the mining company addressed past grievances.

These included rapes of local women and girls by security guards at the mine, and displacement of local communities.

Mr Paraia said the mine had turned local people into refugees on their own land because as susbsistence people they need land in order to grow food to survive.

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Barrick’s Porgera Lease Renewal On Halt

Yombi Kep | Post Courier | November 21, 2018

A court order issued by the National Court has restrained the State and the Registrar of Tenements from granting the renewal of the Special Mining Lease to Barrick Niugini in Engal Province.

The State and Stanley Nekitel, in his capacity as Registrar of Tenements, were ordered by the National Court last Thursday, November 15, not to grant Barrick Niugini, in its capacity as the manager of the Porgera Joint Venture, a renewal until the plaintiffs notion of motion filed on Oct 31 was.

“Pursuant to Section 155(4) of the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Order 12 Rule 1 and or Order 14 Rule 10 of the National Court Rules, until the determination of the Plaintiffs’ notice of motion filed on 31 Oct, 2018, the first and second defendants, including their servants, employees and agents (howsoever described), are forthwith restrained by injunction from granting, making or otherwise giving effect to any final determination on the application to renew the mining tenement the subject of this proceeding, being Special Mining Lease 1(P) held by or on behalf of the participants in the Porgera Joint Venture.”

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PNG landowner push for miner’s exit up against the odds

Johnny Blades | Radio New Zealand | 8 October 2018

A Canadian mining company appears to have government support in the face of landowner opposition to its presence in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands.

Barrick Gold is seeking a renewal of its Special Mining Lease licence at Enga province’s Porgera gold mine which it and Chinese miner ZiJin each own a 47.5 percent stake in.

But landowners are urging the government to reject the licence application due largely to Barrick’s stewardship of the Porgera Joint Venture for the past decade.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera says the mine has caused irreparable environmental damage and human rights abuses.

The group, which claims to represent landowners in the mine area, also accuses Barrick of failing to compensate victims of abuses or to resettle those displaced by the mine’s operations.

Its chairman Jonathan Paraia said that for almost thirty years the mine had caused many problems for landowners, and that the government should not renew Barrick’s permit.

“Because of overwhelming objection from the local community, even if they issue the exploration license, physically the landowners will not allow them to explore in their areas,” Mr Paraia explained.

“They want Barrick out of Porgera or Papua New Guinea. They want the mine to operate but they want to change the ownership rights.”

But the Lagaip Porgera MP, Tomait Kapili, claimed that the Justice Foundation for Porgera did not legally represent landowners, and said the Porgera Landowners Association remained the legitimate local representative body.

Mr Kapili has poured cold water on the Justice Foundation’s attempts to drive Barrick out.

A member of the national government, the MP said he expected the license would be renewed. But Mr Kapili said the new license could be granted on improved terms for landowners who currently have a 2 percent stake in the mine, and a measure of leverage.

“I’m ready to negotiate with Barrick and ZiJin on those funds, not to accuse them of this and that, and then tell them you’ve done enough damage, we take over the mine and all that,” he said.

“They (Barrick and ZiJin) have big investment in there, they are not going to move out. None of the allegations have been tested, except for the security guards’ harassment of ladies.”

Zijin Mining’s Chen Jinghe and Barrick Gold’s John Thornton Photo: Supplied

Some security personnel employed by Barrick were implicated in brutal gang rapes of local women and girls, part of a long history of lawlessness and violence around the Porgera mine.

A Barrick spokesperson denied that there have been any credible reports of rapes by its security contractors since the matter was investigated in 2010.

He also denied that the company hadn’t fulfilled its commitments to landowners removed from the mine lease area.

“The Porgera Mine pays significant statutory land use compensation to traditional landowners of the land on which the mine is situated,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The company notes that this compensation is determined by government regulation, and that contrary to recent claims, the mine has always complied with its compensation payment obligations.”

Regarding Mr Paraia’s claim that the mine hasn’t produced promised benefits for the local community or those evicted due to the mining operations, Barrick defended its record.

“In addition to providing many thousands of jobs for Porgerans and other Papua New Guineans, the mine has provided funding for the development of critical public infrastructure in Enga and adjacent Provinces throughout its operating life to date.”

On the back of collapsed revenues over the past couple of years, PNG’s government is unlikely to want Barrick to leave the country when there is no obvious replacement with the know-how to exploit the Porgera deposit.

“To date the Porgera Joint Venture has paid over 3.3 billion kina in taxes and more than 520 million kina in royalties, providing a long-term source of important public revenue for Enga, the National Government and the Porgera Landowners themselves,” Barrick’s spokesperson said.

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

The Mining Warden, Kopi Wapa, has been conducting hearings in Porgera as part of public consultations over the license application, before submitting his report to the Mining Advisory Council which ultimately makes a recommendation to the minister on whether to appove the license.

In his recent visit to Mr Wapa witnessed vocal crowds of Porgera landowners demonstrating their opposition to Barrick remaining. But Mr Paraia said his group was frustrated that their legal counsel was denied an opportunity to present their case to Mr Wapa.

According to Mr Paraia, he fears the mining warden may have been compromised.

“It is alleged, he flew into the mining area at the cost of the company, and he was accommodated at the company. They were eating and dining together. And he was subject to influence by the company. That’s why we thought the lawyer was denied from speaking.”

However, the Justice Foundation of Porgera has indicated it will serve a notice of dispute, and has suggested an independent arbitrator be engaged by the government as it weighs up whether to renew the Porgera Joint Venture’s Special Mining Lease agreement which expires next year.

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MP dispels claims for opposing miner in PNG’s Enga

A protest against Barrick Gold. Photo: Facebook/ Kelly Taila

Radio New Zealand | 5 October 2018

A Papua New Guinea MP says a group opposing a mining company’s presence in his district does not represent local landowners.

The Canadian company Barrick Gold is seeking to renew its licence at the Porgera mine in Enga, which it and Chinese miner ZiJin each own a 47.5 percent stake in.

The Justice Foundation for Porgera group, which claims to represent landowners, is urging the government to reject the licence application.

It said Barrick’s operations have caused great environmental damage and extensive human rights abuses.

However, Lagaip Porgera MP, Tomait Kapili said he believes the license will be renewed, but on improved equity terms.

“I’m ready to negotiate with Barrick and ZiJin on those funds, not to accuse them of this and that, and then tell them you’ve done enough damage, we take over the mine and all that.

“They have big investment in there, they are not going to move out. None of the allegations have been tested, except for the security guards’ harassment of ladies.”

Justice Foundation for Porgera’s chairman Jonathan Paraia said the mine had caused irreparable environmental damage and failed to deliver promised benefits for the community.

He said repeated rapes of local girls by Barrick’s security guards have also left a legacy.

“Over the years there are a lot of issues affecting landowners, caused by the company, and there is no remedy. It’s now thirty years. They want Barrick out of Porgera, or Papua New Guinea. They want the mine to operate but they want to change the ownership rights.”

But Mr Kapili said the Justice Foundation for Porgera group was falsely purporting to represent landowners, and had little grounds on which to oppose Barrick’s operaions.

Mr Kapili, who said the Porgera Landowners Association remained the legitimate local landowner representative body, predicted that Barrick’s license would be approved, but on improved terms.

“Improved terms to the landowners, the district Development Authority, the provincial government and the national government,” the MP said, adding that an increase in equity participation was the aim.

“We’ll need to amend the Mining Act to increase the 2 percent royalty up to about 10 percent.”

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