Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Secrets Beneath The Rubble: ExxonMobil In Papua New Guinea

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/exxonmobil-papua-new-guin_n_5242489.html

There are some disturbing facts buried in the debris of ExxonMobil’s $19 billion liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, which was funded in part by a U.S. government loan. In 2012, a landslide from an ExxonMobil quarry there killed 27 people -- a disaster ExxonMobil and the government of Papua New Guinea declared to be an act of God.
Other evidence, however, paints a very different picture -- and also reveals the entire project is fueling civil unrest that may be approaching a boiling point.
Our short documentary, which accompanies an in-depth piece published April 30 in The Nation, looks at what actually happened in landslide in Papua New Guinea.

Exxon announced earlier this week that its liquified natural gas facility in Papua New Guinea has started operating.
Written by: Ian T. Shearn and Olivier Pollet
Narration by: Ian T. Shearn
Edited by: Alexandre Berman
Videography by: Olivier Pollet and Spencer Austad
Academic Advisor: Dr. Kristian Laslett, International State Crime
Special thanks to: The Australian Centre for Independent Journalism
The film was produced by The Gumption Group, with support from the Mailman Foundation, The Nation Institute and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Ian T. Shearn, a Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper journalist, is currently a freelance journalist and communications consultant at his New Jersey media company, The Gumption Group. His previous works include investigative pieces on ExxonMobil in Indonesia for Mother Jones and on the American Farm Bureau for The Nation.
Olivier Pollet is a French journalist and independent documentary filmmaker. He directed and produced Canning Paradise, an award-winning investigative feature film about the tuna industry in Papua New Guinea. His works concentrate on human rights, the environment and development issues.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Be wary of environmental damage, Governor Kas says

MADANG Governor Hon. Jim Kas MP

Source: The National, Wednesday December 4th, 2013 
MADANG Governor Jim Kas is concerned about the damage to the environment on the Ramu River.
He has called on the Ramu nickel project developer to be mindful of the damage being done and how it was affecting villagers living along the Ramu River.
Kas said although he admired the Chinese developer MCC for their perseverance and “still being around” despite the falling nickel prices on the international stock market, it needed to consider the Ramu River people with regards to the increased sedimentation.
While he admitted that he had no scientific data to support his argument, he believed the sedimentation was caused upstream.
He suggested that the Government should have the Marengo Mine come under the new Mining Act and not the 1992 Mining Act.
In addition, he said the Kurumbukari (KBK) should be covered under the old Mining Act.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ok Tedi immunity removed

OK Tedi mine landowners can now pursue legal actions against BHP in relation to environmental damage caused by the mining operation.
It follows Parliament’s amendment of the Immunity Act 2001 yesterday.
The bill, tabled by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, received overwhelming support from MPs. They repealed the Ninth  Supplemental Agreement on Ok Tedi where all parties undertook to waive any rights or action against BHP Biliton and the State in relation to environmental damage caused by the mining operations at Ok Tedi.
O’Neill said the mine caused a lot of environmental damage which the State and the people did not expect.
He said BHP, “hell-bent on the profits”, ignored it and allowed the disposal of waste into the Fly River, causing extensive environmental damage which affected many lives.
“No one can sit in this house and excuse BHP for the destruction it had caused. But that is what the government, under Sir Mekere Morauta, did in 2001,” the prime minister said.
“They came up with a deal that would grant total immunity to BHP from prosecution for environmental damage or compensation, in exchange for a programme company (PNGSD) set up outside of PNG in Singapore, and still controlled by BHP.
“Of course Sir Mekere now sits at the top of PNGSDP, and Ok Tedi Mining Ltd as chairman, courtesy of his friends at BHP when he retired.”
He said the Bill would remove this waiver for BHP Biliton meaning that landowners or affected parties could bring any action or enforce any right against it.
 “The government in 2001 made a very bad decision in granting immunity to a corporate giant, preventing its own people from exercising their right under law to sue for permanent damages done to their environment and their livelihood.
“This doesn’t happen anywhere else. Companies and corporate entities own up to their responsibilities and pay compensation,” he said.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PNG Government takes control of Ok Tedi Mine

Eoin Blackwell, AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent


Papua New Guinea will take over full ownership of the Ok Tedi mine, after the government of Peter O'Neill pushed through laws in parliament.
The laws passed on Wednesday also quash a 12-year-old law giving BHP Billiton immunity from prosecution for environmental damage stemming from the gold and copper mine's construction in the 1990s.
The laws cancel the PNG Sustainable Development Fund's (PNGSDP) shares in the mine, and issue new ones granting the state 100 per cent ownership of the mine in PNG's Western province.
The PNGSDP was set up by BHP Billiton to manage the proceeds of the mine on behalf of the people of Western province when the mining giant withdrew from PNG.
"Mr Speaker, it is the state's view that it is in the best interests of the people of Western province and PNG that the state have 100 per cent of the shareholdings in (Ok Tedi)," Mr O'Neill told parliament on Wednesday.
"The state commenced discussions with BHP Billiton with a view to acquiring PNGSDP's shares in OTML and changing PNGSDP's program rules.
"However, BHP Billiton has withdrawn from all discussions and the negotiation has broken down."
The laws passed on a vote of 62 to none.
Tensions between the government and the PNGSDP had been mounting for months.
On Tuesday, former prime minister and PNGSDP chairman Mekere Morauta launched a pre-emptive salvo at Mr O'Neill, saying his attempts to take over the mine amounted to theft.
"Stealing an asset worth approximately ($A860 million) to the people of Western, plus their annual share ($A193 million) of the Ok Tedi Mine dividends, is not acceptable legally or morally.
"It is unconstitutional as well.
"I also fear this is the first step - I hope he does not want to get his hands on PNGSDP itself and the $US1.4 billion ($A1.50 billion) in the long-term fund," Sir Mekere said.
In his speech to parliament, Mr O'Neill said shareholders will be compensated.
"Mr Speaker, the state is not taking these shares," he said.
"The state will be providing some compensation to PNGSDP. The proposed bill will provide that the prime minister, on the advice of (cabinet), will determine an amount of compensation; and to whom any compensation shall be paid."
In his speech removing BHP Billiton's immunity from prosecution for environmental damage sustained in the `90s, Mr O'Neill raised the recent BP oil disaster on the Gulf of Mexico.
"BP accepted responsibility for the disaster which has destroyed the environment and marine ecosystem and affected human lives in the US," he said.
"Why not BHP? What is so special for them to be granted total immunity for what they have done?"
He also took a swipe at Sir Mekere for passing laws in 2001 granting the mining giant immunity.
"Mr Speaker, no one can sit in this house and excuse BHP for the destruction it had caused," Mr O'Neill said.
"But that is what the government under Sir Mekere Morauta did in 2001.
"They came up with a deal that would grant total immunity to BHP from prosecution for environmental damage or compensation, in exchange for a program company set up outside of PNG, and still controlled by BHP."
BHP has repeatedly denied it controls the PNGSDP. Comment is being sought.