Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In response to the SMEC report by DEC & MMJV 13.07.11 Lae Inter Hotel

Honourable Sam Basil, MP Bulolo & Deputy Opposition Leader.

July 13, 2011

Thank you fellow leaders, Ministers, Mine-affected community reps, MMJV reps, chairman, ladies and gentlemen.

As the Member for Bulolo, I am pleased that the Department of Environment and Conservation through the Inter-Agency Environmental Expert Committee (IAEAC) are willing to come down to the level of the Provincial and Local Level Government and even to where my people live to engage with us on the issues affecting us.

That positive step took almost 22 months. I personally delivered the petition prepared by the local people through the UoWRC to the DEC in September 2009.

Naturally Chair, I am not very impressed with the duration and time it took for DEC to finally comedown to us as IAEAC. The Government through the bureaucracy must be seen to be responsive to the people’s concerns.

The longer DEC takes, the more my local people along the Upper/Middle and even the lower reaches of Watut who access and use the Watut River will suffer from all the negative and maybe even dangerous byproducts that MMJV Mine is producing and discharging daily into the river system.

I believe this committee was solely formed as a result of the September 2009 petition to DEC. What I also understand is that DEC, after the September 2009, engaged an independent consultancy firm, SMEC to carry out an Independent Environmental Performance Audit of Hidden Valley Gold Mine. That Audit also involved an Assessment of the Mine Derived Sediment. 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.

Chair, I was given a copy of the SMEC reports just last week Friday and had a quick look at the reports.

Let me highlight some observations from the report.

The Report was first prepared on June 6, 2010, then went through a total of 3 revisions with resulting in the finalized version on November 19, 2010. The main key objectives of the audit were:

a) To assess mine performance with regard to permitting compliance and Environmental Management

b) To assess offsite impacts due to historic and current mine activities;

c) 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

Chair, the SMEC report confirmed that from the two Permits (Waste Discharge & 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. 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. This is an international standard on Environmental Management aspect.

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

What I and my people 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 put in by the UoWRC (Sept 2009).

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 minimization and re-use programs 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? 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.

Chair, 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.

It was also reported that there have been a number of recent studies examining ecological impacts. These include undertaking flora and fauna monitoring. A wide range of recommendations have been proposed, however, there was no consolidated program to implement recommendations and monitor their effectiveness.

I wonder what the extent of the ecological monitoring program is. Ok Tedi Mining undertakes studies even to the Mount of the Fly River and the nearby Kiwai Island. Although, MMJV is not permitted to dump their waste tailings onto the Watut River, the extent of the mined sedimentation that is already end up in the river system will obviously reach the junction of Watut/Markham River and ends up at the Huon Gulf. As the duty of care to the environment and also in line with the principle of best sustainable mining practice, that should be the extent of their ecological monitoring program.

The report revealed that MMJV’s monitoring program includes fortnightly air quality monitoring at three monitoring stations located at Manki, Upanda and Hikinagowe villages. None of the monitoring stations were operational during the time of the audit due to local disputes. Monitoring data collected at Manki village station was sighted – and this indicated no monitoring program since January 2009.

The report also mentioned that the hydro-Meteorology monitoring data was last reported in the April-June 2009 Environment Monitoring Report. This included river gauging and stream flow data for Pihema creek off take site for the second quarter of 2009. It also reported meteorological data including rainfall, humidity, barometric pressure, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, and evaporation. Monitoring data has not been reported since June, reportedly due to the resignation of the site Hydrologist.

The audit found that monitoring, quality assurance and training procedures have been poorly implemented. The data management system is not effectively monitored and controlled, with no data recorded since June 2009. There have been a number of reported non-compliances with Permit conditions; however there was no evidence to indicate that appropriate remedial actions have been undertaken. This is a clear non-compliance to this very important monitoring program.

It seems most of the non-compliance happened in 2009 prior to the submission of the UoWRC petition. Again the question of, if the petition was not submitted, would MMJV continue with its non-compliance? This is a seriously poor practice that has been allowed without any penalty being imposed.

This might possibly mean MMJV management can still report non-compliant data convincingly to DEC and they can still accept non-compliant annual reports without checking.

A major issue is the monitoring and management of sediment discharges. Historic data indicates high concentrations of sediment in receiving waters. There is currently no Permit requirement or management targets adopted for suspended solids.

DEC has not clearly established a permit limit for suspended solids. How can they impose control and compliance if they don’t have a benchmark to work with? Does that still mean that we can use WHO criteria or Australian guideline?

Chair, even the water samples taken during the audit showed elevated levels of arsenic, cobalt, lead, manganese, iron, mercury and free cyanide in excess of Permit requirements. That is normally the case, when wastes are discharged into the stream continually. They can easily be traced immediately downstream and near the source of discharge. As you move further downstream, due to dilution and buffering capacity of the flowing river, the traces disappear.

That evidence alone indicates the sub-standard method of waste management being practiced by MMJV where Toxic chemicals being discharged directly into Watut River. What is DEC doing?

Offsite Impacts/Issues

Based on a review of relevant documentation, including MMJV’s annual and quarterly compliance reports, it is likely that mine activities have significantly contributed to high sediment loads in the Watut river, particularly in the Upper and Middle sections of the river. Major sources of sediment relate to pre-stripping/sidecasting activities, un-engineered waste dumps and landslides. A recent study (Pickup and Hargreaves 2009) concluded that approximately 20-30 metric tonnes of waste rock material have entered the Watut River system as a direct result of mine activities. The study also found that mine derived debris moving down the Kaveroi and Upper Watut channels has severely scoured the valley walls, resulting in increased risks for slumping of additional sediment and rock into the channel, and generation of mudflows during large rainfall events.

This confirms all the concerns about river sedimentation. It is a very sad fact and I believe DEC should squarely be liable as well for not responding immediately. Sedimentation has resulted in mass starvation of vegetation and plants along the river bank and aquatic life.

The report also indicated that suspended solid levels in the Watut river began to increase in mid 2007, which coincides with the timing of intensified mine construction. Up to late 2009 suspended solids concentrations were consistently in the range 5,000mg/L to 12,000 mg/L. This trend reversed in around mid 2009 when dumping (side casting) to the Eastern Dump ceased, leading to less, but still significant (>2,000 mg/L) sediment discharges to the river.

Obviously, mining activity at the upstream was the prime contributor to high level of sedimentation and as a result elevated suspended solid levels as indicated. Results greater than 2000mg/L is still significantly high. Water samples taken during the audit showed elevated levels of arsenic, cobalt, lead, manganese, iron, mercury and free cyanide in excess of Permit requirements.

Consequently there is potential for ecological and health related impacts on downstream inhabitants. No doubt, and again, mining activity at the upstream was the prime contributor to high level of sedimentation including elevated levels of arsenic, cobalt, lead, manganese, iron, mercury and free cyanide. The levels exceeded the limits specified in the Permit.

Now, the operation was NOT suspended by DEC, WHY? There were inconsistency observed within the internal systems of MMJV and yet the mine was allowed to operate. What standard are we using?

Also, due to elevated BOD and nitrogen levels in sewage effluent there was a high potential for pathogenic contamination of downstream waterways. This poses a serious health threat to downstream inhabitants. High nitrogen levels found in the effluent can cause algal blooms, oxygen depletion and degradation of waterways. Not sure whether DEC has notified the Health Dept about this. The Health Dept. should immediately engage an independent assessment on this issue. Obviously, the Health minister should explain this to his people at Lower Watut and Huon Gulf himself.

Chair, a number of studies have been undertaken to assess biodiversity impacts from mine related operations. Generally all studies conclude that biodiversity has been affected to varying degrees by high sediment loads and metal accumulation. The most recent study (Hidden Valley Aquatic Biology Gap Survey, 2010: Hydrobiology Pty Ltd (Environmental Services, DRAFT) confirmed that the biodiversity of the upper Watut River has been severely impacted by elevated sedimentation levels, with increased metals availability also a possible contributory factor to these changes in the river during the mine construction phase.

The study has clearly indicated the impact to biodiversity due to high sedimentation with increased metal bioavailability to plants and aquatic life. Has DEC impose any penalty yet to MMJV? Delay tactic and yes, of course, leave the environment to recover itself over time!

Didn’t the mine operator mentioned in their approved EMP that they will as much as possible minimize any damage to the environment, in this case, the biodiversity?

SMEC report also highlighted that other than some anecdotal data and the claim made by the Union of Watut River Community in the petition, there was no report or data available to confirm that mine-derived sediment has caused reduction in income of the river communities.

In contrast a decline in fish population is, however, evident from the study conducted by Hydrobiology. This may not have had any impact on the people’s income as there is no evidence of commercial fishing in the Watut River. There is no evidence of reduction in crop production due to high sediment in the river.

To manage this, MMJV has engaged Dr John Burton to carry-out the socio-economic survey in order for them to understand that knowledge gap.

The report also mentioned that other than a few anecdotal records there were no data on mine-related health issues in the Watut River communities available during the SMEC study. However, based on audit findings the mine may be impacting on river communities in the following ways:

- Depletion of fish resources and a source of protein rich food;

- Some metals released into the waterway can cause skin related diseases.

- Consumption of fishes with elevated level of metals may also pose threats to human health; and poorly treated sewage effluent can potentially result in a range of health related issues such as diarrhoea, dysentery and stomach ache, and in some cases more serious diseases.

SMEC may not have the data/report or the statement may have been told to them by mine operator. The fact is they haven’t done any study on this. That is why to manage this; they have engaged Dr Keith Bentley to do a market basket survey as part of the Health Risk Assessment in order for them to appreciate that knowledge gap.

SMEC confirmed in the report that the Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the MMJV was undertaken based on the sediment load being distributed equally between the Bulolo and the Watut River systems. However as part of the works and the placement of the mine sites this has been amended to show that there is now a 90/10 split between the Watut and Bulolo Rivers. This increase in potential sediment load to the Watut River and potential environmental and social impacts were not assessed prior to construction of the mine.

That leaves us to still question, why the DEC Minister had a secret flight to meet with MMJV management and to see the issues first hand without notifying Morobe Provincial Government, Bulolo District or me the local MP.

Chair, this 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.

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.

Thank you very much.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Basil says no to Zibe's proposed forum .

20th February 2011

PRESS - Sam Basil MP

The issue of the damage to the Watut and the people who rely upon it for their very existence and the resulting court case should not be the subject of a publicity-seeking talkfest proposed by Member for Huon Gulf Hon. Sasa Zibe. The question of liability of MMJV for the damage is before the Courts and Minister Zibe’s conduct would be in contempt of Court.

Where was Sasa Zibe when the people he represents in Parliament were crying for help throughout 2009 & 2010 as their river had been destroyed?

Where was he when they were complaining that the fish were dead, that they couldn’t use the river for transport as the overburden from the mine had made the river too shallow?”

Authorities have been signed by landowners of the Lower Watut region, which is in his electorate, for me to represent them in the court case against MMJV as Sasa Zibe did nothing to help them.

Now the mining company is putting the pressure on as the Court case has started, Sasa Zibe is trying to get his people to stop their fight for their rights by the calling of a general forum. The issues he seeks to talk about in the Forum, if dealt with properly, would take weeks to resolve, not days. Sasa Zibe is paying lip service to public consultation and he knows it.
I remind Sasa Zibe of his own Government’s warning of Contempt of Court several months ago through the then Attorney General Ano Pala and the then Governor of Madang Sir Arnold Amet (now Attorney General) to anyone who wished to debate, talk about or protest against the amendments to the Environment Act, as Mr Pala stated that the issue legality of the amendments was before the Courts. They threatened any and every citizen of this country with charges of Contempt of Court if the issues before the Court were discussed in any forum.
I suggest that Sasa Zibe takes his own Attorney General’s advice on this matter and refrain from any discussions concerning the basis of the Court case and should he in fact discuss any of the issues before the Court, I will not hesitate to commence proceedings for Contempt of Court against him, in order to protect the legal rights of the people of the Watut.
It would be also proper for the minister to get his Huon Gulf District JDP&BPC to help Bulolo District JDP&BPC to fund the court case because we have heard their plea and stood in on his behalf.


Hon Sam Basil Mp

In response to;

News Thursday 10th February, 2011
Morobe sets to discuss mining issues through forum
PREPARATIONS are well underway to stage a Morobe Mining Forum in Lae later this month to discuss mining issues affecting the province.
The forum is organised by the Morobe provincial government and is planned to be staged at the PNG University of Technology’s Duncanson Hall.
Morobe MPs including Governor Luther Wenge, government officials, mining officials, company executives, local community members, leaders, scientific organisations and stakeholders will participate.
The purpose of the forum is to gauge views by way of debating and discussing issues concerning mining operations in the province.
Many issues have been raised currently on the operations undertaken by Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) by affected communities with their outspoken Bulolo MP Sam Basil.
Huon Gulf MP and Minister for Health Sasa Zibe said yesterday that all Morobean MPs, local leaders and interested parties should come together and debate issues ranging from landowners, conservation and environment and benefit sharing agreement.
Mr Zibe said other issues in relation to mining practices employed by developers, regulations and legal frame work would also be discussed at the forum.
“The outcome of this forum is to bring all known and perceived problems and issues to the table and encourage mediation process between all parties through which solutions would be found that concern local landowners, national and provincial government and the developer,” Mr Zibe said.
He added that he decided to propose the forum because he believed that there were workable partnership with investors rather than going through court battles.
“Morobe people and leaders must stand together on this issue. Mining is here to stay but we as a province must lay the ground rules for companies to come and operate,” the minister said.
Mr Zibe said that his people were set to be affected once the Wafi mining which shares the electorate with Bulolo electorate operates.
The minister said he was hopeful that amicable solutions would be found for current dispute between all parties involved in the Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) through mediation after the debate and forum.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Newcrest Mining CEO Ian Smith resigns as profits soar to record

Business with the Wall Street Journal reports -

.Newcrest Mining CEO Ian Smith resigns as profits soar to record UPDATED David Fickling From: Dow Jones Newswires February 11, 2011 10:55AM Increase Text SizeDecrease Text SizePrintEmail Share

Add to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to KwoffAdd to MyspaceAdd to NewsvineWhat are these?NEWCREST Mining chief executive Ian Smith unexpectedly resigned from the world's fifth-largest gold miner today, as the company announced record first-half net profits up 148 per cent to $437.8 million.

Mr Smith, who took over as head of the company in July 2006, said he was leaving to "pursue other areas of personal interest" and would be handing over to Greg Robinson, the company's executive director finance.

His resignation surprised many in the market, who had expected to see Mr Smith enjoy the fruits of his labours after turning round the company and completing the acquisition of its smaller rival Lihir Gold in September.

The Lihir deal put Newcrest in the first division of global gold miners behind Barrick Gold, Newmont Mining, AngloGold Ashanti, and Gold Fields.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
Related CoverageSHARES: Interactive Newcrest chart
SUCCESSION: Newcrest changes CEO
ACCOUNTS: Read Newcrest's report

Smith ends five-year tenure at Newcrest The Australian, 40 minutes ago
Newcrest half-year profit up 148pc Adelaide Now, 49 minutes ago
Newcrest doubles profit, lifts production Perth Now, 5 hours ago
Newcrest urged to list in Toronto The Australian, 26 Jan 2011
Ivory Coast unrest hits Newcrest The Australian, 6 Dec 2010
.End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

The company is also in a sweet spot for global gold miners, with gold and Newcrest's main by-products copper and silver all around record prices.

"Obviously (Mr Smith's departure) is a net negative but if you look at what he's done, from here on it's about delivery of what he's set up," said Michael Slifirski, an analyst at Credit Suisse.

Another analyst, who asked not to be named, said that Mr Smith could be eyeing a role at one of Australia's diversified miners, Rio Tinto or BHP Billiton.

"People have speculated in the past about him stepping up to higher roles and it would make sense," he said.

Mr Smith is a former executive at Rio Tinto and was a senior resources manager at WMC Resources., the Australian company which was taken over by BHP Billiton in 2005 in the company's last major corporate acquisition.

"He's probably the best CEO in Australia so for people looking for a best CEO it's an obvious look," said Mr Slifirski.

Mr Smith's ability to execute the Lihir takeover, made at the low end of an independent expert's valuation for the company, may be a particular asset at a time when the mining sector is buzzing with mergers and acquisitions activity.

Rio Tinto has launched a $US3.9 billion ($3.89bn) takeover offer for Mozambique-focused coking coal miner Riversdale Mining closing March 4, while BHP Billiton has promised to continue its policy of pursuing major takeover deals despite the failure of chief executive Marius Kloppers to complete a major transaction since taking over in 2007.

Chairman Don Mercer said that it was now "the most appropriate time in the company's on-going development for the transition to occur" from Mr Smith to a new chief executive.

"Newcrest has been through substantial change over the past five years and the threats and opportunities facing the company that were apparent at the start of my tenure have largely been addressed and outcomes delivered," Mr Smith said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Newcrest said there was no particular reason for Smith's departure now. "It's just he's been there for five years, and all these things have been achieved and addressed," she said.

Mr Robinson worked in BHP’s petroleum and energy divisions in finance roles before joining Newcrest in 2006, prior to which he was a director of investment banking at Merrill Lynch & Co.

The company said the record results were a result of gold production rising 70 per cent over the previous half-year as a result of the acquisition of Lihir's mines and increased production from its mines at Cadia Valley in NSW, Gosowong on Indonesia's eastern Maluku island, and Hidden Valley in Papua New Guinea.

Newcrest said its revenue rose 66 per cent to $1.97bn from $1.19bn while a first-half dividend of 10 cents per share, unfranked, was declared, compared to 5c at the same time last year.

The company said that underlying profit, which excludes losses on restructured hedges and costs associated with acquisitions, rose 96 per cent to $523.1m from $266.6m.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011



Is Wari Iamo really serving the people? Or killing little people with mine wastes.


A second report from international consultancy firm Deloitte says the Department of Environment and Conservation has seriously misued donor funds deposited to its Biodiversity Trust Fund and compliance with procedures is ‘at a very low level’.

Deloitte says 73% of the spending from the trust fund in 2008, the year of its audit, was for‘unauthorized purposes’.

The funds for the trust account come from external agencies like the United Nations and private sector contributors to World Environment Day.

The Deloitte Report, is the second in a series of four reports prepared by Deloitte in 2008. In thefirst report Deloitte was highly critical of financial management generally within the Department, finding it complied with ‘almost none’ of the procedural requirements of the Public Finance Management Act or the Financial Management Manual and provides‘no useful’ information to managers on spending against budget and work plans.

In the second report Deloitte reveals K223,000 from the Biodiversity Trust Fund used for advances to DEC staff in 2007/8 was completely unaccounted for (including K9,000 for overseas travel).

Deloitte says no bank reconciliations for the Biodiversity Trust Fund had been done for the previous 7 months and all the reconciliations for the previous year used incorrect opening balances.

No monthly reports have been made by DEC to the Department of Finance on any DEC trust accounts, despite this being a statutory requirement.

Deloitte found there was no asset register for assets worth in total K150,000 purchased with monies from the Biodiversity Trust Account.

None of the 10 transactions tested for the report contained all the required signatures on the expenditure requisition and for 4 of the transactions no documentation could be produced.

Member for Bulolo Open
Hon Sam Basil Mp
Press – 08th February 2011
Call for PM to sack DEC Minister & Secretary.

I call on the Prime Minister to sack the Minister for Environment & Conservation Hon.
Benny Allen and his departmental head Wari Iamo for failing to serve the people of Papua New Guinea especially the victims of environmental destruction.

The recent Deloitte report has branded the DEC department as untrusted and with that alone we can assume that corruption exists from ministerial level down to the department.

The genuineness of approving new environmental plans and issuance of environmental permits can no longer be trusted by ordinary Papua New Guineans because all environmental plans have failed leaving the exposed communities to fend for themselves even taking their very own government to court.

The recent visit and statements made by the minister and his secretary after visiting Hidden Valley has proven to us all that their position has been compromised so if they can be branded as untrustworthy and irresponsible by a reputable accounting firm then it is to the best interest of all Papua New Guineans that the Environment minister Hon Benny Allen and his secretary be sacked immediately by the Prime Minister without delay.

If for some reasons the Prime Minister cannot then we all can assume that the Prime Minister is part and parcel of those corrupt practices in within the DEC department because of his government's involvement with the Ramu Nickel Mine issues.

If the minister and the secretary have been playing the games of the Prime Minister in fear of their jobs then they have to come clear to the media and expose all to clear their names.

Just like the planning department secretary and the planning minister they all have reached the cross roads now and must come out to clear their names we will see many of such cases coming out of the woodworks before the national elections next year.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Bulldog Track Access for locals to be challenged in court

Bulldog Track Access for locals to be challenged in court.

The remote Tekadu people have used the Bull Dog track for many years to bring their market goods like buai, tobacco, dried river fish, galip nuts and gold for sale into Kaindi (Eddie Creek) & Wau and also to access to health centres and to bring children for schooling.The closure of Tekadu peoples only access into Kaindi &Wau Town has left them with no option but to track from Tekadu and overnighting in Nukeva (Tauri Lakekamu LLG - Kerema) then catch banana boat for Yopoi Bridge (Malalau – Kerema) and then catch PMV to Port Moresby totalling three or four days of travel.

The Councillor of Tekadu Ward 20 of Wau Rural LLG Mr Henry Timothy has explained that for the villagers to transport a 20kg bag of Buai into Port Moresby they have to pay village porters to carry buai bags from Tekadu into Nukeva (a whole days walk) and then another day on banana boat into Yopoi then catch PMV on the notorious Kerema Highway into Port Moresby.Many has fallen victims of criminal hold ups on PMV & banana boats while the economics of transporting their produce from Tekadu into Port Moresby has proven uneconomical ever since the closure of their only access into Wau by MMJV Mine Operators the Newcrest of Australia & Harmony Gold of South Africa.

Councillor Henry stressed that the cost of travelling to Port Moresby markets has made it very difficult for the locals to earn their living and many has given up their ways of earning cash by returning to their subsistance way of life which means they won’t be able to afford salt, cooking oil, school fees, rice, soap or even to cloth themselves.

Tracking into Hidden Valley and Eddie Creek has been their traditional route and the councillor wants their local member of parliament Hon. Sam Basil to fight the developer of Hidden Valley for their rights to use the Bulldog Track again.

Hon. Sam Basil Mp assured Councillor Henry Timothy that the traditional rights of the people to have access to the bulldog track that runs into Hidden Valley Mine will be challenged in court.
Photo. L Hon. Sam Basil & Councillor Henry Timothy

Before the mining company arrived the Tekaduans have been using the Bulldog Track even long before world war 2 and know that they still have their rights. They believe that there are international laws somewhere including our national constitution that can protect the indigenous people’s rights like themselves and their way of living from big international mining companies like MMJV.

In 2006 and again in 2009 the Tekadu people tried to protest at the entrance of the company in Hidden Valley to ask for their access rights but were ignored the first attempt resulted in several arrests made.
Councillor Henry said the victims were Peter Yaku and Sonagi Elimas including their wives were arrested and detained in Bulolo cells and were later released on bail.

When Morobe Mining Joint venture commenced the Hidden Valley Mining Operations, it prohibited access to the Tekadu people to the Bull Dog Track by placing locked gates and security guards with guns at the points where the Bull Dog track enters and exits the mining lease area. MMJV have unlawfully terminated the access to the Bull Dog track for these people.

The Bull Dog track was constructed by Australian Army engineers and Papua New Guineans over 9 months in 1943. More than 2000 Australians and 2000 Papua New Guineas cut the road with pickaxes and dynamite over a period of eight months and it was built for the purpose of providing a supply line for future military operations in the Markham Valley and on the North Coast of Papua New Guinea.

The Chief Engineer, W. J. Reinhold, was later to write "Every foot of progress made on this road exacted the ultimate in courage, endurance, skill and toil. Its construction took a toll from surveyor, engineer, laborer and native carrier alike."made famous because.

Mr Basil said, the people now have to walk around, in much more difficult terrain that adds three days onto their journeys. The people of Yanina, Anandea, Yanawe, takadu 1 and tekadu 2 cannot bring store goods back to their homes because of the rough terrain and have to cross into Gulf and Central provinces to sell their betelnut and raise funds for their basic needs and to get treatment at health centres. The lengthy walk means the people cannot carry their market goods into Wau nor get emergency case to medical treatment into Wau in time.

There was an aid post and a school in the tekadu people’s area but both of closed due the blocking of the track by MMJV. Last year a woman who had complications from child birth was carried for 7 days on the diverted route and she died 50m from the health centre. Had she and her carriers been allowed access to the Bull Dog track, she would have reached the health centre days earlier, and probably would have survived.

The closure of Bulldog track has also affected the tourism industry therefore unlike the black cat villagers people from Tekadu cannot build guest houses or participate in the tourism business spin offs.

By blocking access to this track, MMJV has infringed on the people’s customary land use rights contrary to the Mining Act and breached their Constitutional rights including but not limited to S52 Freedom of Movement and S53 Unjust Deprivation of Property. MMJV has not provided an alternate route for the Tekadu people, nor have their compensated them for their loss of land use and breach of their rights. The Bulolo District has determined that it will assist these people to take redress against MMJV and enforce these people’s rights and hold MMJV accountable for their actions.

Satellite Image of Bulldog track.

History of Bull Dog track
In 1943 Australian Army engineers; the 2/1 and 2/16 Field Company RAE, 9th Australian Field Company (AIF), veterans of Greece and Crete, the 1st and 3rd Australian Pack Transport Companies and local Papuan labor cut the road with pickaxes and dynamite over a period of eight months. The Chief Engineer, W. J. Reinhold, was later to write "Every foot of progress made on this road exacted the ultimate in courage, endurance, skill and toil. Its construction took a toll from surveyor, engineer, laborer and native carrier alike." During five months of operations over seventy per cent of the 2/1 Australian Field Company contracted malaria.

Along many sections, road-surfacing materials was practically non-existent. The climate ranged from torrid heat to icy cold. The annual rainfall ranged between 150 and 200 inches. These wet conditions combined with the topographic features made construction extremely difficult. In a few minutes a landslide would destroy weeks of labour. The construction gangs would stop, repair the work and move on.

As work progressed the problem of maintaining a supply line became formidable. Work was often suspended for lack of petrol, oil, grease explosives, drill steel, jack bits or other essentials. Nearly all work in the high central section of the road was done with picks, shovels and crowbars. Since blacksmiths tools were slow in arriving and forges awkward to transport, it was often necessary to use badly blunted tools.

The purpose of the road was to provide a supply line for future military operations in the Markham Valley and on the northern coasts of Papua New Guinea. On the late afternoon of August 22, 1943, the road was finally completed and two jeeps crossed from Edie Creek to Bulldog.

On September 23, the first three ton trucks crossed the road successfully and the long supply line was finally open with 114 kilometers of road were now completed. Commencing at Bulldog at an altitude of 59 meters it rose by a series of long loops up through the steep river gorges of the southern watershed to an altitude of three thousand meters, and then dropped down a series of ridges into the Wau valley.

Seventeen bridges were constructed; mostly single, but at least one with multiple spans. More than two thousand Australian army personnel and over two thousand Papuans and New Guineans were involved during nine months of construction. Thus the road, acclaimed as the greatest military engineering feat ever was completed and for the only time in history motor vehicles crossed the high rugged mountains of Papua New Guinea.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Thursday, February 3, 2011

As can be seen here from a shot in November 2010 the river that runs through Hidden Valley Project is visibly coloured from fresh silts from the mine. The river that runs through Wau/Bulolo and along many Alluvial Miners is less coloured


As can be seen here from a shot in November 2010 the river that runs through Hidden Valley Project is visibly coloured from fresh silts from the mine. The river that runs through Wau/Bulolo and along many Alluvial Miners is less coloured.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why do so now after the court case is filed??? Where were you before???

Group to study mine impact: MP


THE Department of Environment and Conservation will set up a committee to address environmental issues relating to Australian mining company Newcrest’s Hidden Valley mine in Morobe Province.
Minister for Environment and Conservation Benny Allen said this yesterday after returning from a visit to the mine site on Wednesday.
Mr Allen and his delegation visited the mine and villagers in Likwue in Upper Watut and Sambio in the middle Watut area.
He said various unions and NGOs had tried to address the issues of alleged mine pollution into the Watut River but these attempts never turned into tangible fruition.
He said the body would be called the Environmental Advisory Committee to be effective once Cabinet gave its approval.
The committee would be chaired by Secretary for Environment and Conservation and various government departments such as Health, Mineral Resource Authority.
Mr Allen said after paying a second visit – the last being during the constructional phase – he had consulted his technical team in the department which agreed that much of the damages to the Watut River was a result of sedimentation.
He said Watut was a high altitude area, thus when a lot of rocks and soil was removed during the constructional phase of the open pit mine, a lot of the sediment got into the river system. He admitted that the level of sedimentation that took place was way out of what was provided in the Environment Impact Studies (EIS), therefore the company would have to compensate the people who were affected.
Mr Allen said the company had compensated about 3000 people and was yet to pay 300 more which had cost the company about K3 million.
But he said he adviced the company not go ahead with the compensation payment but rather follow proper Government procedures.
He said from meeting with the company, Newcrest had built stone walls to prevent sediments from getting into the river system. He said the mine tailings were not dumped in the river system but were kept in a large pool and recycled and cleaned so it was environmental-friendly.
Mr Allen said what got into the river was acid from the rocks that were removed in the mining process.
However, he said this was not harmful to the river and fish because the Watut area had a high level of alkaline. He said the acid from the rocks only neutralises the acid level to a rate of that was within the acid compliance level.
Despite this Mr Allen said there was still a need to have proper water acid measurement of the river to confirm the cause of death of fish.
He admitted that the river colour had changed.
Mr Allen said they were putting an environment plan together to mitigate the harm caused by the mining activity.

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People told not to make public statements
The National- Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Bulolo MP Sam Basil who took the Morobe Mining Joint Venture company to court over pollution has called on people to stop making any public statement.
“I caution anyone, even the Minster for Environment and Conservation Benny Allan, who is believed to have flown to the mine site, his department and certain faction of the landowners like Rex Mauri, from making any statement on the environmental issues,” he said.
He said environmental issues and the effects of the pollution had severely affected the people and no one like Mauri who was eating from the company’s plate to make statements when people were suffering.
Basil said that the case was filed last Dec 14, through Nonggorr William lawyers.
He said that Mauri should stop using the media for his political gain and work together with suffering people.
He said the people he represented were landowners who lived adjacent to the Watut River and who continued to live within the special mining lease area that had been affected by the massive build up of sentiments, acid forming compounds, decrease of biomass of fish and prawns, causation of skin disease and pollution to washing and drinking water.
Basil said that as a mandated leader, he had to step in and allow the law to take its course than taking law into own hands.
He said Mauri should not claim that a handful of people were involved as the areas represented more than 100 people from the upper Watut, Mumeng and Wapar local level government areas.
He said they had the constitutional rights to exercise and not people like Mauri dictating them.

Nature builds up sediments

Nature builds up sediments
The National- Friday, January 21, 2011
AS Hidden Valley gold mine goes into mine commissioning and its operation phase, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has become more aware of public concern over allegations that the mines construction activities are causing to Watut River.
However, after returning from a visit to the mine in Morobe this week, Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan, who was accompanied by Secretary Dr Wari Iamo and a team of experts, confirmed that the recent build up of sediments in Watut River was from natural causes besides mining activites.
“As a result of the public allegations, DEC has taken steps over the last 18 months to address these concerns in a proactive and diligent manner,” Allan said.
“On our visit to the mine in July 2009, during the construction phase, there was an open cut where amounts of gravel were causing a build up of sediments in the river as is the case for mines.
“While visiting the mine and the two villages of Leklu in the upper Watut and Sambio in the lower Watut areas, I and my contingent realised that the sedimentation had disrupted the flow of fish life in the river, the quality of water from the river and also food gardens for cash crops.
“In relation to these damages, the company had paid K3 million in compensation to the villages affected without DEC’s knowledge,” Allan said.
However, he said both villages expressed satisfaction that he and his team had visited them to hear first hand about the health and environmental issues experienced regarding the mine.
“The company is doing everything to stabilise the situation in which they have an excellent rehabilitation programme and measures to alleviate revegetation, replanting and soil erosion plans.
“Sedimentation right now is from natural processes as the mine disposals go directly into a pond for recycling which safeguards the river.”

Seabed Mining- Does DEC knows the environmental impact?

Monday 24th January, 2011

No to seabed mining

Why is our government rushing in dishing out exploration and mining licenses at an alarming rate?
Is it that we don’t have other options in export earnings to subsidise economic gains and improve social indicators as government, mining companies and Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) asserting?
Is mining sustainable and would improve the basic living conditions of the indigenous citizens of PNG like agriculture, fisheries, tourism etc are providing now?
Deep sea mining is the first of its kind in the world brought on by our leaders for testing hence the coastal people of New Ireland (NIP) and East New Britain (ENB) will be used as guinea pigs to test new technologies.
Our government through MRA dished out exploration licenses to Nautilus all over PNG waters.
Nearly 75 per cent of our seas are under exploration license areas of Nautilus but the Post-Courier page 3 Wednesday January 19 revealed project 1 is now granted mining lease.
Nautilus have 11 solwara project sites and imagine how all Solwara projects will affect our sea and people depending on it for 20-50 years and beyond.
MRA and Department of Mining is foolish in brain and or self-centred by the lust for money than the protection and love for the land, sea and environment as God directed human kind to treasure and be managers over them.
ENB and NIP please stand up and voice your concern like Madang people against Ramu Nickel!
You can get your sea back and enjoy the beauty and providence of the sea through God than being lured by typical empty promises of the international mining corporations!

Duwigon Iyampon, POM

Digging through Sand to mine alluvial gold

Sand deposit making it difficult to access alluvial deposits.

Sand banks build up along Watut River.

Letter to the Environment Minister Hon. Benny Allen

Copy of
Letter to Minister for Environment and Conservation 20th January 2011.

I wish to brief you on the Watut River Damage Claim and I request that your Department take urgent and appropriate action.

In October 2010, groups of customary Landowners along the Watut River complained to me that the Hidden Valley Joint Venture (HVJV) had caused massive damage to the Watut and were however trying to get Landowners to sign statutory declarations to submit to an 'Improvement Compensation procedure" and accept a small amount of compensation of up to K1200 per Landowner for the massive damage to the River and the surrounding land. Of further concern, the Landowners were also complaining of skin rashes and stomach complaints due to contamination of the water by HHJV, as well as all fish life in the river being dead.

The mine owners, Australian Newcrest and South African Harmony Gold which are the companies that own 50% each in the HHJV, have admitted on Harmony's website the existence of higher levels of sedimentation in the river that had been caused by mine operations. They did not however explain why the fish in the river had died, why the landowners were experiencing medical problems and why vegetation along the river was dying back.

It was then exposed that HVJV had underestimated the amount of overburden that had needed to be removed in the construction of the mine, but without any structural alteration had stored the excessive amounts in the planned interim waste dumps. Further, HVJV did not even construct competent waste dumps as there were insufficient competent fresh hard rock - but went ahead with the construction of the mine. These dumps failed with the first big rains sending millions of tonnes of metaliferous overburden (containing iron pyrites and other metals) into the Watut River. As there was meant to be no discharge of waste into the Watut, none of the landowners down the river were part of any pre-existing compensation agreement as would have been required under the Mining Act if any damage was a predicted consequence.

Additionally HVJV failed to construct retaining dams at the Kaveroi and Watut catchments and 18 months after construction began, none of the retaining constructions were even commenced and all side casting by HVJV was going straight into the Watut and Kaveroi catchment creeks.

Both ore and waste at the Hidden Valley Mine were predicted to be and are susceptible to acid generation, so should have been and should be handled with great care, which clearly has not been the case.

I announced by way of press release on 27 October 2010, that was reported in the PNG national newspapers, that I was very concerned that HVJV was approaching Landowners to accept minimal compensation, without any independent verification of the nature and extent of the damage to the Watut and surrounding land and that I was going to investigate into both the scientific facts and the legality of the situation and that if the signing of the statutory declarations was inappropriate for the landowners and also if it affected their rights to compensation in any way, legal proceedings would be commenced. I publically requested HVJV to cease the statutory declaration compensation procedure.

A letter was sent from the lawyers for HVJV Blake Dawson (a large Australian Law Firm) to the lawyers for the landowners on 3 November stating that should any legal proceedings be commenced to stop the payments (the statutory declaration signings), then they should be given reasonable notice so HVJV may be represented in the proceedings.

Discussions then took place between the myself and members of the HVJV, and HVJV requested that a meeting take place between the myself and my advisors and HVJV to try and resolve the issue through negotiation.

The meeting took place on 26 November 2010. At the meeting, I agreed that I would not immediately commence legal proceedings on behalf of the Landowners, on the basis that the issue of the pollution of the Watut would initially be resolved by a process, particularly:-

• That MMJV would provide all relevant documents and reports
• That the Landowner advisory team would visit the site
• That both sides would draft terms of reference and suggest members of an independent review team
• That the parties would meet in late January 2011 and should the respective teams differ in their scientific evaluation of the problems with the Watut – an independent scientific team would be put in place to assess the situation
• That the amounts of compensation and rehabilitation would be determined after the scientific assessments were completed.

On 13 December, it was reported to me that over the weekend of 11-12 December HVJV teams were still approaching Landowners on the Watut River asking them to sign the statutory declarations which confirmed their submission to the compensation process as outlined in the MOA – which they are not even party to- and accept an arbitrary amount of compensation. This conduct by HVJV was contrary to the spirit and express agreement by the parties on 26 November 2010.

As HVJV had continued with the process, I, as representative of 110 named customary landowners on the Watut River had lawyers file a Writ of Summons in the National Court in Lae, Morobe Province, on 14 December 2010 claiming against the corporate entities that make up HVJV, damages and other relief on the basis of Nuisance and Negligence, which was the dumping of the waste into the Watut River.

HVJV again when learning of the filing of the Court proceedings, requested that they be withdrawn so that negotiations could continue. I agreed to continue to negotiate on the basis that:-
• We, being the landowners and myself would continue to attempt to co-operatively resolve the Watut pollution issues – in the manner as outlined in the 26 November 2010 meeting, and
• The proceedings would not be withdrawn but that the proceedings would not be served and that the proceedings would only be served in February 2011 in the event that the negotiations in late January2011 failed, and
• We would however serve the proceedings earlier should HVJV continue to attempt to influence any Watut landowners to sign the statutory declarations OR should MMJV conduct awareness on these issues to the affected landowners.
• HVJV should issue a joint press release setting out the situation

This was communicated to the lawyers of HVJV on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 December 2010.

HHJV, through its lawyers responded on 20 December 2010 that they would continue with the process of the statutory declaration signing and we should still withdraw the proceedings.

We informed HHJV through our lawyers on 20 December 2010 that I had issued a press release to inform the landowners and the community of the situation, that I still demanded that the statutory declaration and compensation procedure cease - so that the independent scientific verification could be made.

On 20 December we were informed through the lawyers for HVJV that unless the Writ was withdrawn there would be no negotiations.

On 28 December I was again informed by Landowners that HVJV had continued visiting villages along the Watut to request villagers sign the statutory declarations and for payments of minimal compensation to be made. I advised HVJV through lawyers that

• HHJV immediately cease this behaviour; particularly that they desist from inducing further signatures and cease payments.
• Should HHJV cease this behaviour, then the landowners would be prepared to proceed with their scientific team visiting the site on 24 January 2011 and following that, agree to a meeting with the scientists, the lawyers and the parties to take place in Port Moresby on 31 January 2011
• Should HHJV continue inducing landowners to sign these statutory declarations and continue to make these payments, the Writ would be served
HHJV responded on 30 December 2010 stating that they refused to stop inducing Landowners to sign statutory declarations submitting to the HHJV compensation procedure nor making payments.
Landowner groups then complained to me that HVJV was using bullying tactics and cheating their communities. I was told that HVJV spent the last week of December delivering cheques to communities to allegedly compensate for the damage caused by toxic pollution from the mine to garden trees and crops. The money ranges from K20 to K4000 (AU$8 – $1600).
At the same time as receiving the payments, the communities, who were earlier forced to sign a Statutory Declaration without any explanation and blank ‘Valuation Sheets’, were now made to sign what are called ‘Damage Assessment Payment Receipt Forms’. These forms, written by HVJV, state:
I (claimant name), herby state that this claim represents a true and correct assessment of damage and that I accept the assessment carried out by MMJV officers as being adequate. I agree that I will make no further claim for economic improvements damages will be made in respect of the garden area and improvements described above, and that this damages assessment payment for economic trees and plants is payment in full and final satisfaction of my claim
Unfortunately given HVJV’s attitude,we had no option but to serve the legal proceedings which we did on 5 and 6 January 2010.
The claim by the landowners is for damages to be paid for the massive damage to the Watut, for the river to be rehabilitated and for the mine to cease operations until the nuisance ceases and proper waste dumps are constructed, erosion controls are properly implemented and the river rehabilitated. They are also seeking punitive damages.
We deny that the commencing and service of these legal proceedings prevent any further negotiations in this matter nor does it affect the establishment of an expert technical advisory panel as a vehicle to resolve the “sedimentation” and pollution issues. An issue that must be determined by the parties or by the court will be the nature and extent of the damage to the Watut and its peoples. This can only be completed by scientific evaluation. The next issue to be determined by the parties or the Court would be the amount of damages and what can be done to rehabilitate the river and also to prevent this type of disaster from occurring again into the future.
HHJV has on one hand pretended to be willing to negotiate with the landowners and their representative on the issues of “sedimentation” and pollution of the river, after concerns were raised me as to the statutory declaration compensation process, but have in complete bad faith, whilst the Landowners agreed to not file proceedings , continued to induce customary landowners to sign the statutory declarations and accept negligible amounts of compensation.
HHJV claim in their press release that the negotiations had nothing to do with the statutory declaration process, when in fact, it was that process that raised the threat of legal proceedings by the landowners in the first place, as can be seen from the initial correspondence from Blake Dawson.
A specialist scientific team will be visiting the site on behalf of the Landowners in late January 2011 to undertake their assessment of the nature and extent of the damage to the land and riverine rights of the Landowners, and should HVJV not participate in negotiations, the Landowners will pursue their commenced litigation vigorously.
The issue of the miner and the destruction they have caused should not be left for the landowners to resolve on their own and your department should take the lead in holding the ,miner to account and to force them to not only properly compensate the landowners but also to rehabilitate the river and your department must take steps to ensure that this sort of behaviour – from destroying the river to conning the landowners into signing documents and accepting negligible compensation NEVER happens again.

Yours faithfully

Honourable Sam Basil MP
Member for Bulolo Open Electorate