Radio Australia, 8 May 2014
Bougainville Shareholders support corporate review
Updated 8 May 2014, 9:30 AEST
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility says it is encouraged that most Bougainville Copper shareholders are in favour of appointing an independent jurist to investigate the company’s involvement in counter-insurgency activities during the Bougainville civil war.
The Centre’s resolution, put to the Bougainville Copper annual meeting in Port Moresby was overwhelmingly defeated.
Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Caroline le Couteur, Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility
Check this detailed report out:
Possibly the shabbiest thing I have heard since yesterday:
5 hours agoDetails
PNG Exposed, 4 April 2014
Australian academics paid $500,000 over two years for mining work on Bougainville
April 3, 2014
Two Australian academics have been paid almost $500,000 by the Australian government for two years work towards reopening the Panguna mine in Bougainville.
The figures have been revealed by the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee.
Bougainville has twice rejected Regan’s controversial new Mining Law paid for by Australia
Controversial ABG advisor Anthony Regan has been paid over $270,000 – K680,000 – for his work drafting a controversial new Mining Law and other legislation.
Regan’s draft law has twice been rejected by the people pf Bougainville as being too biased in favor of foreign mining companies including Rio Tinto.
The figure revealed by the Committee as paid to Regan includes reimbursable travel costs and covers the period from June 2011 to November 2013.
A second Australian academic Ciaron O’Faircheallaigh has been paid $215,000 over two years for his work on negotiation “of a mining agreement to govern the Panguna mine”.
In total Australia is funding 22 ‘advisor’ positions in Bougainville – at an annual cost of $2.9 million in 2012/13. Some of the positions are full-time, some part-time and some are currently vacant according to the Committee.
On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Bougainville Freedom Movement wrote:
PNG Minewatch, 31 March 2014
Panguna Mothers Reject BCL and Mine
Clive Porabou via Facebook
The Meekamui Women of Panguna find it ridiculous to hear that the Bougainville Women in Mining are supporting the reopening of Panguna Mine when they themselves are ignorant of the facts why the mine was closed.
Stella Placid one of the principal female landowner in the mine pit said that BCL [Rio Tinto] is not welcome in Panguna.
“They are responsible for the 20,000 lives who perished during the uprising.
They also used dangerous chemicals to destroy the eco-system on the land and we cannot grow taro or do any fishing in the rivers.
As you can see today; the Jaba river is polluted, our people relocated with a complete disregard for their needs and the needs of future generations and we lost our land”, said Stella Placid.
“Therefore, our concern not to open the mine must be respected by ABG and stop their political rehetorics and develop the agriculture and fishing sector.
The truth is that we the landowners in the mine pit areas are united in our opposition to the reopening of the mine”; said Stella Placid.
Rio Tinto wins end to human rights abuse lawsuit in U.S.Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:47pm EDT* Bougainville residents sued over activity linked to mine* 9th Circuit rules after top U.S. court narrows law’s reachBy Jonathan StempelJune 28 (Reuters) – Benefiting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Rio Tinto Plc has won the dismissal of a nearly 13-year-old U.S. lawsuit accusing the Anglo-Australian mining company of complicity in human rights abuses on the South Pacific island of Bougainville.Friday’s ruling by a majority of an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends litigation begun in 2000.Roughly 10,000 current and former Bougainville residents had sought to hold Rio Tinto responsible for human rights violations and thousands of deaths linked to polluting a copper and gold mine it once ran.The ruling follows the Supreme Court’s April 17 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co, where the justices limited the sweep of a 1789 U.S. law that lawyers had used for roughly three decades to fight human rights abuses worldwide.Five justices said the Alien Tort Statute was meant to cover international law violations occurring in the United States, and that violations elsewhere must “touch and concern” U.S. territory “with sufficient force” to displace that presumption.The Bougainville residents alleged that after workers in 1988 began to sabotage the Rio Tinto mine, the company goaded Papua New Guinea’s government to exact retribution and conspired to impose a blockade, leading to thousands of civilian deaths.On April 22, the Supreme Court threw out an earlier 9th Circuit ruling that let the lawsuit proceed, and asked it to revisit the matter in light of Kiobel.Steve Berman, a lawyer for the Bougainville plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.He had asked the 9th Circuit to send the case back to the Los Angeles district court so that his clients could try to proceed with other claims, “sans invocation of the ATS.”Kiobel was also cited this week by a Virginia federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit accusing defense contractor CACI International Inc of conspiring to torture detainees a decade ago at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.The judge in that case said that because the alleged abuse occurred outside the United States, he lacked jurisdiction to consider claims by four former detainees. They plan to appeal.The case is Sarei et al v. Rio Tinto Plc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 02-56256.
Destroying the planet is the gothic of today and no bat in a cloak can swoop down from up high, like some inverted interbred vampire out of Capital, to redeem us. The bad debts pile up; floods, strange weather, drought, fire, starvation and death, compounded, if not outright caused, by a mercenary human aggression with less morality than wasps.
Large dams, mining, war, pollution, an obscenity that abides in the love of wealth and power. Suited monstrosities of corporation, Government, banking and science. In politics, Machiavelli would need rescue remedy today – appalled and embarrassed he would be.
I sit outside in the dull acid rain typing.
(yes SF, I know Russ is not the bat’s dad x)
Green Left Weekly,
Bougainville: Rio Tinto faces war crimes allegations in bid to reopen mineTuesday, February 26, 2013Young freedom fighter from the Bougainville Revolutionary Army in 1994. Photo by Francis O’Neill, via eco-action.org.
British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto is seriously contemplating reopening its Bougainville copper and gold mine, Reuters reported on February 7.
Situated on Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) eastern border with the Solomon Islands, the company’s Bougainville operation was forcefully closed down in November 1988 by traditional landowners who objected to the mine’s environmental and social effects.
A bloody civil war ensued, which took up to 20,000 lives on an island of 175,000 people. The war crimes committed by government security forces in the conflict were horrific.
Bougainvillean nurse, Sister Ruby Mirinka, recalled: “One of the victims was a 24-year-old pregnant woman. Shot dead by the PNG soldiers, her abdomen was then cut open to remove the foetus. The dead foetus was then placed on the chest of the dead mother for all to see — as a warning.”
Rio Tinto stands accused of being complicit in these atrocities. In a US class action launched under the Alien Tort Statute, Bougainvillean landowners maintain that Rio Tinto’s subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), supplied the military with trucks, fuel, accommodation, storage facilities, mess halls, communications equipment and secretarial services.
These allegations were featured in a hard-hitting Dateline report aired on SBS TV in 2011.
In response, company executives adamantly denied complicity. They claimed Rio Tinto’s equipment was commandeered by the defence force after the mine had been abandoned.
BCL director Sir Rabbie Namaliu told The Australian on July 16, 2011: “To suggest that Rio did it deliberately is factually wrong. When I heard about those claims, I thought the whole thing was rather unfair.”
Namaliu was prime minister of PNG from 1988 to 1992. Amnesty International said PNG forces stationed in Bougainville during this period took part in extra-judicial killings, village burnings and the rape of women.
Namaliu is hardly an uncompromised source.
There are other problems with his account. For example, I interviewed eight senior managers who worked for BCL during 1987-1992. They were confident the company did supply the defence force with the aforementioned equipment.
One manager told me: “We did everything they [PNG security forces] asked of us to make their life more comfortable, and better able to manage through, with transport, communications, provisions, whatever, fuel.
“You know, we gave them everything, because as a far as we saw it we were hoping that they were going to solve the situation, so we could start operating again. So we supported them every way we could.”
Perhaps BCL was unaware of the ends to which this logistic support would be applied? Well, its executives seem fairly cogent on this front too.
One manager recalled: “These guys [PNG security forces] were ignorant thugs with guns. Frightened ignorant thugs with guns. Frightened, ignorant thugs with guns a long way from home.”
Another executive remembered surveying the destruction inflicted upon local villages by government forces during April 1989: “Forty, 50 villages, and the crops [were destroyed]. The villages were varying from five or six houses to 20 or 30 houses.”
Naturally, Rio Tinto wants to take advantage of skyrocketing copper and gold prices by dusting off its old South Pacific jewel. I am sure they are attracting a degree of community support from war-weary Bougainvilleans looking to rebuild their shattered island.
That said, communities on Bougainville have yet to be fully briefed on Rio Tinto’s role in defence force operations during the bloody years of 1988-1990. So it would be difficult to argue that this support is based upon informed consent.
Until Rio Tinto commits to full disclosure, any attempt to reopen the Bougainville mine will be another corporate blight on the deeply scarred people of this Melanesian island.
[Dr Kristian Lasslett is an executive board member of the International State Crime Initiative. The International State Crime Initiative’s multi-media presentation on the Bougainville conflict, which includes BCL memorandums and meeting minutes, can be accessed here.]
Source:The National, Wednesday 27th February, 2013
FORMER Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kaona has warned Australia not to meddle in Bougainville affairs.
He said the first policy draft on mining in Bougainville was no different from the colonial policy that caused the crisis.
“The Australians have taken control of mining policy in Buka and the first policy draft by ABG legal unit headed by Tony Regan is no different from the previous policy,” Kaona, who is chairman of the recently formed Bougainville Resources Owners Representative Council, said.
He added that the proposed policy, sponsored by AusAID and drafted by Regan, risked Bougainville’s first constitutional crisis.
“Since the constitution is the supreme law of Bougainville, section 23 of the Bougainville constitution, which restores ownership of resources on Bougainville to the customary landowners, is the only option that is constitutionally legal.
“So any attempt to impose any other resource ownership system would be invalid and ineffective – they are risking a constitutional crisis.”
Resources rights activist Simon Ekanda shared similar sentiments.
“Bougainville mining policy does not belong to Regan, BCL (Bougainville Copper Ltd) or the Australians, it belongs to the resource owners and the people of Bougainville.
“This is to be a Bougainville mining policy written by Bougainvilleans in Bougainville for the Bougainville resource owners and people.
“Section 23 of the Bougainville constitution returning the resource ownership to the customary landowners is to be the foundation of that policy.
“Let me be absolutely clear – there will be no compromise on this.
“The Panguna landowners must determine that their interests will be best served by securing a special mining lease over their resource and then to entertain qualified mining companies with the view to putting Panguna back into production.
He also cautioned ABG President John Momis to be careful with the new mining policy.
“Both PNG and Bougainvilleans have died and it is unwise if Momis allows colonial administrators to rewrite Bougainville mining laws.”
28 August, protest outside Vedanta’s site of their AGM on August 28th against the deaths and displacement of tribal populations in eastern India, the harrassment of activists, and environmental degradation here and in other regions in which this Anglo-Indian mining company operates (www.foil.vedanta.org)
Read the leaflet detailing Vedanta’s culpability here: Vedanta AGM Leaflet 2012-1.
Australia wins Gold! But can the same be said for Rio Tinto?
Australia has won its first gold medal, and the athletes were awarded medals made from gold produced by Rio Tinto, the official supplier to the London Olympics. The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games claims all suppliers have passed the requirements of its ethical sourcing guidelines, but one does not have to dig much at all to see that Rio Tinto should never have been accredited as a supplier to the Games. See http://publishwhatyoupay.org/newsroom/blog/australia-wins-gold-can-same-be-said-rio-tinto.
Rio Tinto – a record fit for the Olympics?
Updated background briefing on the impacts of Olympic medal metal provider Rio Tinto’s mining operations around the world.
Providing the Metals for the medals at the London Olympiss
[their best slogan: ‘Making Modern Life Work’ – gee thanks]
Shehla Masood battled corruption in India. Was that why she was killed?
The shooting of a prominent activist was ‘unfortunate’, says a minister. But her friends suspect that she knew too much to live
A family photograph of Shehla Masood, who was campaigning against plans to open a mine when she was killed.
For many of her 38 years, Shehla Masood had campaigned tirelessly against corruption. Glamorous and combative, she had embraced India‘s Right to Information Act with gusto, rattling out applications in all directions, exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels of Madhya Pradesh state where she lived, upsetting many powerful people with a great deal to lose. Judges, police and politicians from the local ruling BJP party had all come into her sights and been exposed for misusing public cash.
In recent months, she had turned her attention to mining conglomerate Rio Tinto‘s plans to extract 37 million tonnes of diamond-bearing ore from land in one of the finest strands of teak forest in the country.
Then, on 16 August, Shehla was found dead in her car outside her home in a prosperous area of Bhopal, with a single gunshot to her neck. More than a month later, the investigation has hit a brick wall. Even the offer of a £7,500 reward – an enormous sum for India – has failed to elicit a single witness to a killing that took place in broad daylight in a busy street.
It is Tuesday morning in that same respectable street in Bhopal. A large khaki tent is pitched opposite Shehla’s house. Four police officers, posted to guard her family, sprawl inside on charpoys, fast asleep. The road leads to a large slum, whose residents pass regularly in front of the house, much as they must have done on the morning she died.
It was Shehla’s father, Sultan Masood, who found her lying with her head back in the front seat of her little silver Hyundai Santro car. “I called: ‘Shehla, Shehla’, but she didn’t speak. I took some water and splashed it on her face and then her dupatta [scarf] slipped down and I noticed the black hole in her neck. I started screaming: ‘Somebody has killed my daughter, someone has shot my daughter.'”
It is almost inconceivable that no one saw the killer or heard the shot, but Shehla’s fate appears to have been a warning to others to keep silent.
For Shehla, though, silence was never an option. In the past few months, she had targeted Rio Tinto’s diamond plans. Environmentalists feared that the mine project in Chhatarpur district – inaugurated by the chief minister in 2009 – threatened the watershed of Panna Tiger Reserve and the Shyamri river.
In a letter to India’s home minister in July, she wrote: “The Rio Tinto company began exploring in this eco-sensitive zone before being granted government permission. The officials who objected have been transferred from their positions.”
The high court of Madhya Pradesh had already ordered the national and state governments to explain why mining had been permitted, according to the petition, “in gross violation of rules and regulations”.
Shehla planned to launch her own legal challenge and had started to file right-to-information applications to gather evidence.
Shehla’s younger sister, Ayesha, has returned from the US, where she is studying microbiology, and has been trying to make sense of what happened, ploughing through her computer hard drive, digging out her correspondence, looking for a clue. Sitting in the living room of the elegantly furnished, two-storey family home, the 34-year-old said: “She told a friend who met her five days before her death that she had information that would shake the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh to its core.”
Ayesha Masood fears the killing is linked to those who stood to gain from the deal with Rio Tinto. Gopal Krishna, founder of the Delhi-based ToxicsWatch Alliance, had been working with Shehla in the weeks before her death. He said she had just started making fresh right-to-information applications and planned to launch her own public-interest challenge to the mine in the high court.
Vinita Deshmukh, a journalist and activist who has followed the case closely, said: “It was more convenient and more economical perhaps to snuff out the life of Shehla. Money and power almost always overpower the laws of this country, especially when it comes to big projects that generally throw up lucrative commissions and kickbacks to officers and elected representatives.”
Madhya Pradesh’s home minister, Uma Shankar Gupta, dismissed such suggestions. It was “unfortunate” that she was killed, he said, but no one in government wanted her dead: there were plenty of more capable right-to-information activists and nothing had happened to them.
As for the Rio Tinto mine, it could not possibly be illegal, he said: “If the chief minister went over and inaugurated it, it has to be legal.”
Rio Tinto, which is investing £292m on what it calls the Bunder project, vehemently denies that the mine has anything to do with Masood’s murder.
A spokesman said: “Rio Tinto started exploring for minerals in India in 1996 after the sector was opened for foreign direct investment. In 2004, Rio Tinto made news across the world with the discovery of significant diamond deposits at the Bunder project in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. We are currently at the evaluation stage and doing detailed studies while our application for a mining lease is pending with the government of India. We have a very strict, transparent ethics policy that is uncompromising no matter where we operate.
“We learned through the media of the shocking death of Ms Masood, for which we extend our sympathy to her family and friends. We join with the community of Bhopal in condemning such acts of violence and the loss of life.
“We cannot understand why our name is bring linked with this tragedy. We never met nor had any contact with Ms Masood and are unaware of any communication she had with the ministry of environment and forest. We have had no communication with the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] so are unaware of any details about the investigation.”
The man in charge of the murder inquiry, Deputy Inspector General Hemant Priyadarshy, thinks it was a professional job. All the possible motives are being considered, he said. “We are speaking to everyone. Nobody is outside the reach of the law.”
His job would be simpler had Shehla chosen to tackle fewer establishment figures. “I fear for my life,” she said in an interview a month before her death. “But I will continue working and carry on … It is the nexus between politicians and babus [officials] which is slowly poisoning our country. The fight is between the powerful and weak and I represent the weakest and the poorest of society.”
The day she died she was due to pick up the responses to a right-to-information request on judges’ expenditure, before addressing a rally in support of national anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare’s hunger strike (she was his campaign organiser in the state) and inviting people to name and shame corrupt politicians and officials. She was winning praise from the national BJP party in Delhi through her close friendship with one of its MPs, Tarun Vijay, but that only seemed to breed jealousy and fear of her influence in the local party. Someone was spreading rumours that Shehla, a Muslim who also worked as an events organiser, was a spy for Pakistan. And then there was her acrimonious dispute with a senior police officer, whom she had accused of corruption.
Ayesha Masood sits in the living room, rattling through the list. She seems uncertain where to turn next, unsure that the police will crack the case, seeing the reward as a sign of desperation. The family demanded the local police be taken off the investigation after they initially concluded that Shehla had shot herself, despite no weapon being found at the scene. They are happier now that the CBI is in charge, but still she doubts that they will get justice. “If highly influential people are involved, India is very good at sacrificing its own citizens,” she said.
There is no doubt that Shehla made many enemies during her years of anti-corruption activism. The identity of her killer may prove elusive for some time to come.
Letter from a BRA General.
Monday 13th December, 2010
BRA’s stand on mine reopening
Following all the media coverage in the recent weeks and the recent meeting by the so called landowners of Panguna Mine with the President for Bougainville, I would like to highlight certain issues that need to be taken into consideration before continuing discussions and plans to reopening of the Panguna Mine.
To set the record straight, the so called Panguna Landowners “Did not close the mine”. Let it be known that it was the Bougainville Revolutionary Army that closed the mine because of environmental damage and for the interest of everyone on the Island. The BRA consists of fighters from the North, Central and South Bougainville. So everyone have to be considered and accommodated in any discussions in regard to the reopening of the mine.
A lot of BRA soldiers died during the conflict, fighting to protect the environment that was destroyed by the mining giant, fighting for the Land and lastly for total independence for Bougainville. For the so called Panguna land owners to try to reopen the mine without considering and accommodating those who have given their lives and died for the closure of the mine would be an inconsiderate and greedy move.
When the mine was shut down, there was a claim to the BCL by the late Francis Ona on behalf of the landowners and Bougainville, the amount was K10 billion. Let it be known to all parties interested in the reopening of the mine that we have not forgotten and we still stand firm with this claim.
The move to reopen the mine is welcomed but is a sensitive issue. We don’t want to go down the same road we came out from. We fought against environmental damage, land rights and independence for Bougainville, therefore any discussions to reopen the mine must have a fair representation. I call on the National Government not to raise false hopes without gauging the views of all parties involved.
Radio New Zealand, 26 July 2010
Hopes Mister Pip movie will be filmed on Bougainville
Posted at 03:32 on 26 July, 2010 UTC
An actor and dramatist in Papua New Guinea says many locals are hoping the film, Mister Pip, to be shot on location in Bougainville.
Auditions for the roles have begun in Solomon Islands, before heading to Port Moresby and Bougainville.
The film, based on an award winning book of the same name by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones, is set in 1991 during the decade-long Bougainville conflict.
William Takaku is helping to organise the PNG auditions, and says it will depend on the film’s budget as to whether it will be filmed on Bougainville, but he and many other locals remain hopeful.
“I hope that the movie, because its a story about Bougainville, its not going to be authentic if it is filmed in any other place rather than Bougainville. So I hope that the film’s decision will eventually be made for it to be made here on Bougainville.”
William Takaku says there’s already much excitement about the film’s potential to draw attention to Bougainville and its people.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International
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ABC TV – Lateline, 14 June 2010
Abandoned mine threatens environmental disaster
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Reporter: Liam Fox
The Australian owners of an abandoned mine in Bougainville say it is too dangerous to return to repair leaking fuel tanks.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: It’s been 20 years since a bloody civil war forced the closure of the Panguna copper mine on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.
The mine’s infrastructure has been slowly decaying ever since.
The fuel tanks that fed Panguna’s power station are now leaking oil not far from the sea.
Some are warning of an impending environmental disaster but the mine’s Australian owner says it’s only a minor spill.
It wants to return to Bougainville to clean up but says it can’t because the island is still too dangerous for its workers.
PNG correspondent Liam Fox reports.
LIAM FOX, PNG CORRESPONDENT: Deep in the Bougainville jungle are the remains of what was one of the world’s biggest copper mines. Panguana is now a wasteland of rusting equipment and dilapidated buildings. Operations ground to a halt 20 years ago when the resentment felt by local landowners towards the mine sparked a decade-long civil war. Thousands died during the crisis and the mine has been slowly decaying ever since.
It’s a similar story on the coast at Panguna’s old power station. These fuel tanks haven’t been maintained for two decades. Now they’re leaking oil, lots of it and it could get worse.
RON BLENKIRON, SOUTH PACIFIC ENVIRONMENTAL: There’s a crack down through there. This is about a 20 mill thick at the bottom, but these cracks will still open up in an earthquake.
LIAM FOX: Thick, heavy fuel oil coats the ground. A black lake lies next to the tanks. From here, it’s only a stone’s throw to the ocean. This pit only metres from the water is the last barrier preventing oil from leaking into the sea.
RON BLENKIRON: During the wet season when we first came here, this pit was basically full of water and the oil was about 50 mill from running into the sea, so it was pretty close. You’re living on the edge of a catastrophe here the whole time. It’s pretty nasty stuff.
LIAM FOX: Ron Blenkiron from South Pacific Environmental says the leaking oil isn’t the only potential hazard here, up the road are the remains of a storage area for chemicals used in the mining process.
RON BLENKIRON: We won’t take you any further into there, but these are really nasty stuff. You can’t go in there without full breathing apparatus and chem suits. This is really nasty.
LIAM FOX: Mr Blenkiron has written to the mines, Australian owner Bougainville Copper Limited or BCL, and offered to clean it up. For a price of course, but BCL has declined.
RON BLENKIRON: I believe that BCL is morally responsible to clean up.
LIAM FOX: Steven Tibo is working for South Pacific Environmental and the company it’s formed with some local landowners.
STEVEN TIBO, SOUTH PACIFIC ENVIRONMENTAL: My people we live on the coast, marine life, so this oil is a concern.
LIAM FOX: But back in Port Moresby, BCL isn’t so worried.
PETER TAYLOR, BOUGAINVILLE COPPER LTD CHAIRMAN: There is what I call a relatively minor oil spill that’s been contained by the safety systems that were put in place, the bund. And really it seems to me it’s just a case of going and cleaning that up.
LIAM FOX: Bougainville Copper says vandals caused the spill and much of the oil has already been stolen. It says New Zealand peacekeepers removed any toxic chemicals from the area in 1997. The company says it wants to clean up the spill, but more than a decade after the war ended, it still believes Bougainville is not safe for its employees.
PETER TAYLOR: Unfortunately, there are few people, and I think they’re now well and truly in the minority, who refuse to allow us access and some of these people unfortunately have got guns.
LIAM FOX: So why not use South Pacific Environmental, who are already on the ground?
PETER TAYLOR: We have done some research to try and find out what their credentials are and as far as I can see, they have no experience in actually doing any sort of environmental remediation work.
LIAM FOX: Bougainville Copper is hoping to return soon and clean up the mess itself. The historic hatred local villagers felt towards Panguana is dissipating. Many now want the mine reopened to fund their long-held desire for independence from PNG.
CHRIS DAMANA, PANGUNA LAND OWNERS ASSOCIATION: We want Bougainville to get its own money, find its own funds and to run its own affairs.
PETER TAYLOR: The landowners are now approaching the company saying, ‘We’d like you to come back.’
LIAM FOX: It might not be too long before BCL is back in Bougainville.
Liam Fox Lateline.
= = = = = = = = =
Australian company blamed for oil spill
By PNG correspondent Liam Fox
Posted Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:21pm AEST
Audio: Oil spill in Bouganville linked to Australian owned copper mine (PM)
As oil continues to spew into the Gulf of Mexico, there are fears about the potential for another smaller spill in Papua New Guinea.
Two big oil tanks are leaking heavy fuel oil close to the sea on the island of Bougainville.
The tanks used to fuel the massive Panguna copper mine before it was abandoned more than 20 years ago because of a bloody civil war.
The mine’s Australian owner says it wants to clean up the leaks, but Bougainville is still too dangerous for its workers to return.
It has been more than 20 years since the two large fuel tanks at the port of Loloho on Bougainville’s east coast had any maintenance.
Back then, the resentment local landowners felt towards the Panguna copper mine sparked a decade long-civil war that forced the mine’s closure.
Now the tanks are leaking and the ground around them is coated in thick heavy fuel oil.
A black lake lies between the tanks and there are fears it could get worse.
“There’s a faint crack down through there,” said Ron Blenkiron from South Pacific Environmental, a company that wants to clean up the leak.
“This is about 20 mil thick at the bottom here but these cracks will still open up in an earthquake or anything serious like that, so it’s definitely an issue.”
The tanks are only a stone’s throw from the ocean and Mr Blenkiron says the system put in place to contain leaks has broken down.
An oil-soaked pit, just metres from the water, is the last barrier preventing the fuel from leaking into the sea.
“During the wet season, when we first came here, this pit was basically full of water and the oil was about 50 mils from running into the sea, so it was pretty close,” Mr Blenkiron said.
“You’re living on the edge of a catastrophe here.”
Mr Blenkiron says the oil is not the only potential hazard left behind when the mine was abandoned in the late 1980s.
A few hundred metres up the road are the rusting remains of a storage area for chemicals used in the mining process.
Mr Blenkiron has written to the mine’s Australian owner, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), and offered to clean up the area for a price.
But BCL has declined.
“I believe that BCL is morally responsible to clean up,” Mr Blenkiron said.
“I mean, sure they may have got chased out of here rightly or wrongly a number of years ago but there’s no danger in coming down here. The people are welcoming. They’re easy to work with.”
BCL’s chairman Peter Taylor, based in Port Moresby, does not believe the leaking tanks pose a danger to the environment.
“There’s no disaster there,” he said.
“There is what I call a relatively minor oil spill that’s been contained by the safety systems that were put in place. And really it seems to me it’s just a case of going in and cleaning that up.”
Mr Taylor says vandals caused the leaks and most of the oil has already been stolen.
He rejects the claim there is other toxic chemicals in the area, saying New Zealand peacekeepers assessed the port in 1997 and removed anything dangerous.
Mr Taylor says BCL wants to clean up the spill, but more than a decade after the civil war ended, he believes Bougainville is still not safe for his employees.
“Unfortunately there are a few people, and I think they’re now well and truly in the minority who refuse to allow us access and some of these people unfortunately have got guns,” Mr Taylor said.
There is no doubt law and order is still a problem in Bougainville.
Twice this year foreign ships have docked at Loloho without customs clearance and pumped oil out of the tanks, without approval from BCL.
There are also plenty of guns on the island that are yet to be disposed of in line with the Bougainville Peace Agreement that ended the civil war.
So why doesn’t BCL use South Pacific Environmental, who are already on the ground, to clean up the leak?
“We’ve done some research to try and find out what their credentials are and as far as I can see they have no experience in actually doing any sort of environmental remediation work,” Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor is hopeful BCL will be able to return to the island soon, not only to clean up but also to resume mining.
“The landowners are now approaching the company and saying ‘we’d like you to come back, we’d like you to do various things including the remediation of anything that might be in any way dangerous’,” he said.
- Open all of Rio Tinto’s books and those of other corporate giants to inspection by unions – Expose all
- corruption, hiring of anti-union outfits and bribery of community leaders. Down with the Fair Work Act
- restrictions on union rights to inspection of company documents!
- Force Rio Tinto to accept union agreements with workers in all key sites.
- Smash Rio Tinto’s union-busting actions in Boron, California! Victory to the Boron mine workers!
- Ban any company that can pay any of its executives or owners more than $300,000 in annual renumeration
- or dividends from laying off any workers.
- Stop Rio Tinto, BHP, Xstrata etc from trampling on Aboriginal land rights.
- For Rio Tinto to pay out the compensation demanded by Bougainville people in a current U.S. court case for
- Rio’s crimes against humanity and racial discrimination in connection with the Panguna mine.
- Extradite to China the Australian-based Rio bosses whose office was proven to be responsible both for
- receiving the secrets stolen by Stern Hu and for further encouraging his corrupt activities.
- Thank you Peoples Republic for standing up to the Rio Tinto corporate thugs. But go further – Expose more
- fully the role of Australian-based Rio Tinto executives in the corruption!
CHINA IS CRACKING DOWN ONPRIVATE SECTOR CORPORATEGREED AND CORRUPTION!IT’S TIME THAT HAPPENS HERE! Rio Tinto’s obscenely rich bosses are notorious for attacking trade unions, trampling on Aboriginal rights and plundering the wealth of peoples in the “Third World.” And they are used to getting away with it! However, since the Peoples of Republic of China (PRC) jailed four Rio Tinto executives for bribery and stealing information from the PRC’s public sector, Australia’s corporate high fliers and their parliamentary servants are in a bit of a spin. Why? Because someone has finally stood up to Rio’s bosses. For our part, let’s use China’s robust prosecution of the Rio bosses to publicise the nasty methods used by bigbusiness owners in their drive to exploit more and more wealth from the toiling masses. Now that we have seen that a serious force is willing to take on Rio’s bigwigs, let’s take up the offensive here against the anti-worker attacks and unrestrained greed of all the big corporate bullies.
Report from the Rio Tinto AGM in London on 15 April 2010
Panguna Mine, Bougainville
Clive Porabou from Bougainville said that the company’s BCL subsidiary had caused massive destruction to land in Bougainville and its operations had led to a war which had cost 20,000 lives. A court case had been brought against the company in the USA. Would the company compensate the people of Bougainville for the destruction it had caused? BCL was now trying to go back in and reopen the mine, which would repeat the whole process. Would Rio Tinto warn them of the dangers of doing so?
Jan du Plessis said that the company had not operated in Bougainville since 1989. When it did operate, it employed 2800 people and contributed 10% of Papua New Guinea’s GDP. In 2001 a peace agreement was signed between the PNG Government and the separatists. The company understands that it cannot recommence operations without proper consultation with the stakeholders.
Tom Albanese said that the company respects the long-term peace process and the actions of the Government of Bougainville, the landholders and the Government of Papua New Guinea.
It is noteworthy that neither the Chairman nor the CEO commented on the lawsuit brought against the company in the USA.
See the full report at http://londonminingnetwork.org/2010/04/report-on-the-london-agm-of-rio-tinto-15-april-2010/
I’ve posted several times before on the many crimes of Riotinto – bunkered down in their London headquarters (formerly 6 St James Square, now 2 Eastbourne Terrace), they plunder the world with near impunity, though Partizans, Minewatch and this bunch of activist-lawyers (below) are keen to dent their stock. Oh, and the Chinese deal went comically wrong which was also entertaining. None of this is sufficient yet, but the long arm of legalese may still raise a few bucks compensation for Bougainville. Have a look at the RTZ brochures/website on a quiet day if you ever feel the need to get incensed about something – they hand them out at the office (reminder 2 Eastbourne Terrace, near paddington). Here is the latest from the lefty-legal firm:
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro: Plaintiffs Celebrate as Rio Tinto Loses
August 3, 2009 6:52 PM EDT
SEATTLE, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ — The United States Federal Court again rejected arguments from Rio Tinto (NYSE: RTP) late last week, in a massive human rights claim brought by South Pacific islanders claiming the world’s largest mining company conspired with the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in crimes against humanity, racial discrimination and war crimes.
In the most recent ruling, Judge Margaret M. Morrow held that the heinous nature of the allegations led to the court’s conclusion not to impose an “exhaustion requirement” with respect to the claims.
An exhaustion requirement would require the Court to explore the possibility of dismissing the case in the United States, leaving plaintiffs to start the legal process all over again in Papua New Guinea.
“Rio Tinto has tried every possible stalling tactic to prolong the case,” said Steve Berman, lead attorney and managing partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. “Now that the court has rejected Rio’s arguments again, we’re eager to move this case forward so that the people of PNG can receive the justice they deserve.”
The case, originally filed in 2000 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks to represent Bougainville island residents exposed to toxins resulting from Rio Tinto mine operations and those who were injured or killed during the political and social conflict between Rio Tinto and PNG citizens, which began in 1989 and raged until 1999.
Rio Tinto has argued for years that despite the Alien Tort Claims Act explicitly stating that foreign nationals can bring suit in the United States against companies that violate international law, plaintiffs in the Rio Tinto case should not be allowed to do so. Rio Tinto is the parent company of subsidiary U.S. Borax Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles.
“We are anxious to show the world evidence of the company’s participation in these international law violations from former senior level army officers,” said Berman. “We are eager to introduce evidence showing that Rio supplied gunships and supplies and facilitated war crimes in order to keep revenues from their mine flowing.”
According to a declaration by General Singirok, commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) at the time of the alleged atrocities in the 1990s,”the PNGDF was Rio Tinto’s personal security force and was ordered to take action by any means necessary.”
“We can only hope that Judge Morrow’s thorough and reasoned opinion will allow victims in this case an opportunity to prove the allegations against Rio for its indefensible human rights violations,” Berman continued.
About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
The law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is based in Seattle with offices in Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco. Since the firm’s founding in 1993, it has developed a nationally recognized practice in class-action and complex litigation. Among recent successes, HBSS has negotiated a pending $300 million settlement as lead counsel in the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery on behalf of Enron employees which is awaiting distribution; a $150 million settlement involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drug Lupron, and served as co-counsel on the Visa/Mastercard litigation which resulted in a $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement to date. HBSS also served as counsel in a $850 million settlement in the Washington Public Power Supply litigation and represented Washington and 12 other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in the history of litigation. For a complete listing of HBSS cases, visit www.hbsslaw.com.Contacts:Steve Berman Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro (206) 623-7292 Steve@hbsslaw.comMark Firmani Firmani + Associates Inc. (206) 443-9357 Mark@firmani.com
SOURCE Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
Reposted from 31 August 2005 because it still survives.
Note the ‘Miners’ part of the flyer has been erased, I guess this is poignant in a way. Reports of a reopened colliery in Yorkshire got some news airtime last year – not just a historic ‘museum’ type gesture but reported as such, the mine opening is significant in a way that all those films like Brassed Off just weren’t.And support the Hollywood writers strike – though some of them could do with some time down pit as well.
In the introduction to their edited volume Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy”, Greg Downey and Melissa Fisher speculate a little on corporate compromise on the part of social scientists:
“During the past decade an unprecedented number of cultural anthropologists have been hired by companies to work as consultants in consumer design, and workplace research”
And then they ask:
“How can we begin to account for the migration of anthropologists out of academia into business? Has the increasing demise of tenure-track jobs in the discipline forced academics to look elsewhere for employment?” (2006:18)
Strike me down if this hasn’t been going on far far longer than the last ten years. Few jobs, lousy pay, and a lack of political direction in what’s often been a deeply conservative discipline. I had a go at exposing corporate buy-outs of anthropologists in the late 1980s. The mining company Rio Tinto Zinc has a long and dubious history of recruiting anthropologists to its schemes: among several examples, their hire of graduates in the discipline to act as information-gatherers spying on pro-Bougainville campaigners at La Trobe University; and lets not forget the dirty subsidiary money they off-loaded via Monash’s Khan in 1991 for work on the ‘creation of community’ around a mine-site in Kalimantan (‘community’ here seemingly a rephrasing of what was in fact a Suharto-regime transmigration programme); and not just rio tinto, later in the mid-1990s there was the involvement of a certain Jerome Rousseau with the Bakun Hydro-Electric scheme [see Left Curve vol 23]. But a cosy relationship between anthropology and capital was already old news even then, and there was a dubious phrase coined to expose, or contain, the deals: remember ‘handmaidens of colonialism’ anyone? That old argument was rehearsed over and over, but now seems to be forgotten again as anthropologists rush to become the hand-holders of neo-liberalism.
The corporate anthropology Downey and Fisher have in mind is the take up of ethnographic research as culture machine for marketing, product testing, sales profiling and the like, but capital interest in having anthropologists broker access to the entire planet goes further than newfangled market research strategies (but see Saatchi and Saatchi’s strange culture vulture effort here). I’m dismayed to hear of mining companies still making efforts to recruit the best and brightest to their ‘social responsibility’ spin-mongering.
I remember that Riotinto were particularly concerned to proclaim their environmental credentials a few years ago – crowing about how they were protecting rainforest frogs and had set up a crocodile park. Keeping in mind their many years of plunder of Aboriginal land, rights, livelihoods, responsibility for the Bougainville war etc etc (see Roger Moody’s book Plunder or any issue of Partizans) such corporate do-gooder deeds are particularly despicable, even in a world that spins to their tune more and more. At least the price of copper is falling – though I bet the Riotinto Board still got massive end of year bonuses.
[The pictures in this post are all taken from the brochures that Riotinto produce to alibi their profiteering – I’ve been collecting these quite a while and there are many more howlers. Frogs, bad jokes about the dispossessed, Rachel as mining-boy’s-own fantasy. See sidebar topics for more. Just have to call this glossy anthropology – it takes the shine off the pursuit of knowledge]
This interview first ran around 0549 GMT
By James Attwood
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
SYDNEY (Dow Jones)–Papua New Guinea’s government expects to agree terms with Bougainville authorities next year to lift a moratorium on mining in the battle-scarred island and resume operations the following year.
Give us two years and mining will restart in the Panguna mine,” PNG mining minister Sam Akoitai told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.
Anglo Australian miner Rio Tinto Plc. (RTP) shut the massive Panguna copper and gold mine in May 1989 after repeated attacks on infrastructure and workers by secessionist rebels.
Speaking on the sidelines of a PNG mining conference in Sydney, Akoitai said both the Bougainville autonomous government and foreign investors are keen to resume activities in the minerals-rich South Pacific island once fiscal arrangements are agreed.
“Bougainville is a place where every man and woman will swim across to,” he said, when asked about the current level of investor interest.
“But my approach would be I’d rather work with the devil I know than getting somebody new to come in and start again,” he said, referring to Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Ltd. (BOC.AU)
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Bougainville Copper for nine years and think they’re doing a very good job.”
Besides holding the position of PNG national mining minister, Akoitai is also the parliamentary member for Central Bougainville.
Panguna produced about 180,000 tons of copper a year to rank as the world’s third-largest copper mine. It remains closed despite a 1998 cease-fire and the formation of an autonomous island government.
Before any decision can be taken, however, stakeholders must complete a review of new fiscal and operating terms for exploration and mining on the island, Akoitai said.
The long-delayed review process is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year and take “months” to complete, he said, adding the benefits for Bougainville would have to be significantly better than current terms.
“It’s an issue close to me. I’m from Bougainville and I also represent the electorate where the mine is. I would want the review process to be concluded quickly so we can decide the future of mining in Bougainville.”
“The whole reason the government in Bougainville asked for this review process to began is so we can sort out the outstanding issues and then perhaps start mining from a clean sheet.”
Benefits for the local community would have to be in line with new benchmarks of modern mines, he said, without elaborating.
Akoitai said Australia’s Ord River Resources Ltd. (ORD.AU) and Gallipoli Mining Pty Ltd are among companies to make recent approaches to authorities on the possibility of exploring in Bougainville.
-By James Attwood, Dow Jones Newswires; 612-8235-2957;
(What are the pictures? The first one obviously a minesite – we like ’em big. The second is the cover of the 1988 Bougainville Copper annual report – the next page of that report proudly pictures the mine, but the cover affirms Riotinto’s green credentials, eh? The pic is the glam board of money grubbin directors – is that Michel Foucault with them? What the fuck is he doing there?).
People will have noticed (but will they, its a bolgospheric doubt we must often have) there are a bunch of alternative news sites linked in the left column of my tawdry souvenirs site. But for the really keen reader, here below are a few more good links from the great great journal Left Curve out of Oakland. These are more or less US/UK specific, but important nevertheless. So, when the Queen’s speech gets you down, click the links… but why is there still a Queen at all? Parasite. At least in Australia we were stupid enough to vote her in – the alternative was snivelling scuzz bag John Howard choosing a head of state for us (join the Government-in-exile, SouthLondonPacific bar Kennington for politburo meetings). We voted for her (democrazy rocks), but in England the Queen is there by default. Nobody voted her in here, but the bills she and her gilded spawn run up have been paid for 50+ years, and she is a major shareholder in dodgy profiteering death-mine-murder-kill outfits like Riotinto. Time for Regime Change in these unfair isles. Of course this should occur along with the impeachment of Blair – and after last night’s Olive Till ‘debate’, the seemingly very nice but ultimately not-that-much-to-say Stephen Frears should also be impeached. If not for Beautiful Laundrette having including a love story about a fascist (Johnny), then certainly for not committing treason-by-popular-demand by having Helen Mirrin abdicate. Three cheers for Olive Till though, and for MA student Carrie-Anne who was the highlight of the night when she thanked Olive’s son for the bursary cheque – not a dry eye in the house. OK, emotive bit over, now to read the news:
axis of logic
Ed Strong Blog
Thomas Paine’s Corner
OK, here is a convoluted double-think. News just in. The Papua New Guinea army commander that ousted that mercenary pom and stiff-lipped bastard Tim Spicer and Sandline International from PNG when they came to intervene in the Bougainville war in 1997, must now be jealous that the same bastard Lord of War (Spicer) is suddenly resurgent and making mega millions selling arms in Iraq. So he – PNG commander (actually now retired Major General) Singirok – is complaining that the Australia Government’s cutting of the PNG military budget is making it more likely that (alleged) Indonesian terrorists from Jemaah Islamiah will enter PNG and threaten Australian mining interests, making the miners a target. This is truly choice. Remembering that the reason Singarok was able to get rid of the mercenaries of Sandline was because his own PNGDF troops rebelled at not being paid for months and months while being on the back foot in the Bougainville war (despite considerable covert and overt Australian military support), made worse by the fact that the then PNG PM purchased outside mercenary help, which in turn drove the demoralised and unpaid rebellious soldiers to near mutiny. Spicer and his mercenary cronies didn’t even have time to pack their bags, leaving all sorts of weaponry on the Port Moresby tarmac. On the back of this, ten years later the Australian effort is to reduce the PNGDF via payouts to halve the size of the force – that in itself quite twisted double think – pay your enemies to have less troops (in another zone, you can’t help but think the Israeli Blitzkrieg in Lebanon might go easier if they did the same eh, evil nasties). All of this convolution in terms of ‘defence support’ and mining interests is, I guess unsurprisingly, a consequence of tactical deployment of funds to bolster international econonmic interests (Australian, British and US mining) via the flexing of Australian military aspiration/asdventurism in the area, becoming regional cop and invading Solomons, East Timor etc… So Singirok’s delightful double-think threat is that because of the (alleged) targetting of Australian miners in PNG (awww, diddums) from (alleged) Indonesian terrorists, his own defence force (PNGDF) should be re-tooled so as to have capacity to protect said Australian miners. Lost track yet? – the mining operations are the biggest cash cow for international mining companies yet imagined, perhaps with the exception of arms sales. An audit of contemporary colonialism will clearly require more than average accountants. Rio tinto corporate executives must be licking their filthy chops.
You can read the article about Singirok in today’s Australian newspaper here.
Some folks will know of my interest in the Pacific Island called Bougainville – a place where the company Rio Tinto (based at 6 St James Square London) dug the biggest hole in the southern hemisphere (to mine copper, employing anthropologists as advisers on native administration) and who profitted massively until the Bougainville Revolutionary Army turfed them out. The BRA then fought a ten year war against the combined might of the Papua New Guinie Defence Force (PNGDF), the Australian Govermnent (supplying Iroquois choppers and other hardware, supplies, training) and with the participation of (mufti) Australian Military personnel and various mercenary groups. The current situation is complicated but ‘better’ – though there are noises about reopening the mine.
Meanwhile, the plunderer’s interest moved elsewhere, and so BASTARD of the week (month, year?) is announced today in the form of Tim Spicer, mercenary. He’s the pom who organised the failed intersession on the PNG Govt side by the private army of Sandline International (they didn’t even get to Bougainville before their bumbling cowboy attitude got them bundled out of the area, similar bungling in Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea cements their reputation). Now it seems Spicer’s business intersts are looking up these days as he’s made a £62 Million business out of arms deals in Iraq. Lord of War bastard indeed. Murder death kill. Surveillance, counter-insurgency information gathering, communications, ‘intelligence’ and vehicle tracking. Read about it in the words of Tracey Boles of The Times, but keep in mind how this stuff links up – and how the connections between RTZ (copper mining, uranium) and western intersts in the Gulf (oil, geo-politics) and the filthy lucre of the arms trade (guns, supplies, surveillance) manifest in the loathesome person of gunslinger Spicer. The company you keep.
From the look of Daniel I knew that he had been away too long.
– Hi Mate, how are…
His cutting off grunt and wave of shaky hand confirmed it. Daniel worked on a remote Crocodile sanctuary. An absurd undercover research predicament, where he had reptiled his way into the biggest and most hypocritical of RTZ’s good citizen corporate relations fiascos: a crocodile sanctuary to protect the darling little snappers, in exactly the region where twenty years earlier the company had bulldozed local, Aboriginal, landowner’s homes into the sea. Never Smile was going to be the title of the book he would write about it.
– tourists come and gawk at the crocs, asleep with their mouths open. It’s their cooling system.
– what the tourist?
– ha ha
– There’s no chance any of them would make the links and turn round and go home. Its not in the brochures and no-one reminds them that this is stolen bloodied land. They don’t even register that the whole sanctuary is an advert, a make-up disguise. I manage to tell a few as they leave, but who knows.
– RTZ love this stuff. They laugh at us in their suits.
There was along history here. We met long ago at a demo which became an occupation – one of the first to be co-ordinated by activists with mobile phones – of the CRA offices in Collins Street. 37 stories up in the sky, it was wild in the streets for a few hours. Later we worked closely together on militarism and he came to stay for a few days when I lived in Manchester.
[for more on some really vicious crocs, see any Riotinto mining report, but better to visit our friends at PaRTiZans who will warn you of their dangers.
For the picture, I thank the crazed people of Normanton, Queensland… “In Normanton’s main street there is a “statue” to a crocodile … caught in 1957 at 28 foot 4 inches it was then the largest in the world that had been caught”. http://www.btucker.albatross.co.uk/Queensland.htm]