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Tuesday, 20 February

20:48

SABL petition anniversary marks PNG's greatest ever scandal "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

February 21st is the first anniversary of the presentation of a 10,000 signature petition to the Department of Lands demanding the cancellation of the SABL leases. 2018, also marks five-years since the SABL Commission of Inquiry exposed the full extent of the illegal land grab, which affects more than 10% of the whole country.

But despite repeated promises from the ONeill government to cancel the leases, stretching back to 2013, almost nothing has been done. 

ACT NOW! believes the governments response to the illegal SABL land grab is the greatest scandal this country has ever seen. 

Even the brave landowners who have struggled through the courts to have leases declared illegal, without any help or support from the government, or have stood up and defied the logging companies despite attacks from the police, still have foreign companies occupying their soil.

A list released two weeks ago by the Lands Department revealed that of 75 SABL leases examined in the Commission of Inquiry, only 10 have been cancelled and 5 of those were on the direction of the courts and four voluntarily surrendered.

Meanwhile, as the government delays get ever longer, most of the SABL files have disappeared from the Department of Lands.

Fifty thousand square kilometres of land, more than 10% of the entire nation given away illegally yet the government does almost nothing to undo the wrong and indeed is still allowing logging companies to plunder the forests.

With APEC leaders now preparing to visit PNG, the SABL land grab is a huge embarrassment for the nation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the PNG government over its failure to protect its own citizens during his visit two-weeks ago, saying many communities have been forcibly evicted from their homes, often reportedly violently, with impunity and allegedly sometimes with the complicity of local police.

It seems the whole w...

00:07

Nautilus Minerals says it doesnt know very much at all "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

According to Nautilus Minerals, although it has successfully tested its mining machines in a giant puddle, there is an awful lot it does NOT know about its proposed Solwara 1, experimental seabed mine in Papua New Guinea.

Indeed, it is hard to find anything the company does know with any certainty.

Nautilus Minerals admits it does not know:

1. If its mining machines will work on the seafloor

Nautilus says there are risks relating to the performance of the Seafloor Production Tools include the risk of equipment failing to perform to design specifications when operated at the Solwara 1 Project, as the machines have not yet been tested at depths similar to depths present at the Solwara 1 Project.

2. If it can raise the money it needs to even start mining

The risks related...

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Monday, 19 February

22:47

Four Mining Exploration Licences Issued for Bougainville "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

Bougainville is open to any investor who want to come and do business

Post Courier | February 18, 2018

Secretary for Bougainville Mineral and Energy Resources Shadrach Himata says a total of four mining explorations licences have been issued to date.

Mr Himata said companies from Australia, Canada, and the Philippines have taken up interest in the exploration of various areas in Bougainville upon the request of landowner groups.

We have a company from Australia, Canadians interested, and the Filipinos who are interested in exploration, Mr Himata said.

Right now we have issued four exploration licences in the Tore area in North Bougainville and the Central Bougainville is the Isina area.

The Filipino company, SR Metals, are interested in doing exploration in the eastern part of Isina area in Central Bougainville.

He said on the northern part of the Tore...

22:12

Message from Tavolo villagers to Government: We did not sign SABL agreements "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

Pepetua Marangona, Tavolo village, Pomio

Source: Scott Waide, My Land, My Country

Tavolo village in Pomio, East New Britain, is a place not many in Waigani know about.

Its tucked away along a patch of sandy beaches in between rocky shorelines that mark the border of East and West New Britain.

The people go on with their lives knowing very well not to expect any help from the National or provincial government. On the maps held by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Tavolo is part of a Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) in the Melkoi Local Level Government area.

Those who are pushing for the SABL to be implemented on Tavolo land, have probably had no contact at all with the people who own 18,000 hectares of land. They dont understand the peoples aspirations and they will probably defend the SABLs as a sound development option needed for the Tavolo people.

The Tavolo community is small. They have a population of 600 men women and children.

The ward councillor, Peter Kikeleng and another senior community member, Pepetua Marangona, asked me to take their message to those who authorised the Melkoi SABL.

The people dont want a 99-year Special Agriculture Business Lease over their land. They dont want the logging and the oil palm that is expected to come with it. They say that if any development is to come, they must remain in control of their land and that they have to receive direct benefits from the project NOT the crumbs.

When the police come, they beat the landowners because we speak out a lot about  land issues, she says in Tok Pisin. What answers does the government have for the shortage of land that we will face?

They have seen the situation in Pomio where large tracts of land have been logged and land taken away from customary landowners through SABLs.   They know about the communities that are being broken by the greed and court battles against each other.

They dont want that....

20:27

As Indonesia gears up for elections, activists brace for an environmental sell-off "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

JAKARTA Environmental issues in Indonesia will once again be both bargaining chip and valuable stake this year as the country prepares to hold sweeping elections, according to an environmental outlook released last month by the countrys main environmental watchdog, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi). Voters in the worlds third-largest democracy will head to the polls in June to vote for 17 provincial governors, 115 district heads and 39 mayors. Up for grabs: control of natural resource-rich regions, including in Indonesian Borneo, Sumatra and Papua. Elections at the local level in Indonesia have long been marred by corruption: business lobbies bribe their favored candidates with the expectation of a quid pro quo once in office; incumbents engage in pork-barrel programs and blatant vote-buying schemes; and in each region, the promise to permit the plunder of natural resources timber, coal, land, water forms a central part of each candidates platform. In this political year, there will be a great amount of money circulating, says Even Sembiring, the policy assessment manager at Walhi. So we have to remain alert. An illegally logged tree in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Habitat loss played a critical role in reducing rhino populations, but most experts now believe the species low birth rate is a more pressing problem. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. Decentralizing corruption A key aspect of Indonesias vibrant, if imperfect, democracy is the decentralization of power from Jakarta to the regions, introduced after the downfall in 1998 of the late dictator

19:27

How Peru Excludes Indigenous Voices in its Quest to Develop the Amazon "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

by Adrian Gonzalez / The Conversation

Pluspetrol(an oil and gas company)=murder. Graffiti in Iquitos, regional capital of Loreto. Limited consultation means that graffiti becomes one way local people can express their anger over oil development. Photograph taken by author (May 2015)

The Peruvian government has a clear development agenda for its Amazon rainforest regions. Oil extraction is already happening on a large scale. That will be supported by significant investment in new gas pipelines, proposed hydroelectric dams and other large transport projects.

But what do people who actually live in the region make of all this? In my research, I have shown that Perus development plans are deliberately restricting the ability of local citizens to provide consent for these projects.

This is no accident. Most people living in Perus Amazon regions are indigenous, a group of people who remain excluded and discriminated against. According to one former president, indigenous people are an obstacle to development, ar...

01:42

How SABLs are disrupting communities and creating conflict "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

Source: Scott Waide, My Land, My Country

Chief William Ape Hawa is a straight shooter and a wise old fella who presents me with a shell necklace used as the local currency during important ceremonies. He apologizes for not giving me the gift the day before when I arrived at his Tavolo village on the border of East and West New Britain.

When new visitors come, he says in Tok Pisin, We give them a tanget headdress. That tells you that you shouldnt be afraid or shy. It means you are welcome.

Then before you go, we give you the necklace which means, go in peace.

Chief William speaks with a lot of wisdom and understanding spiced with wicked, truthful humor. He talks a bit about life and marriage of the young and then our conversation leads on to the Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABL) issued by the Government.

Tavolo is in the Melkoi LLG area of Pomio District, East New Britain. For the people here, the term Special Agriculture Business Lease triggers a lot of anger.

What kind of laws do we have? says Chief William. They tell us that our land is part of a SABL and we had no part in that decision!

Like many other SABL areas, other people signed on their behalf.

The Tavolo people who number about 600 own 18 thousand hectares of land. They have no intention of giving up the pristine rainforest over to the Malaysian company that intends to log their land and plant oil palm.

But Chief William and his people are under immense pressure to surrender their land.

There is oil palm development in neighbouring West New Britain. In the next local level government area which includes the district headquarters of Palmalmal, large areas of customary land have been logged out. Landownership is now being disputed in court. Much of trouble has come about because of agreements that were hastily signed.

Over the past 20 years, the people of Tavolo developed a conservation area over the 18 thousand hectares of land. The government recognised this. The decision has come with its benefits. Fish numbers have been rep...

00:45

Government nets next to nothing from Tolukuma mine sale "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

The government sold the Tolukuma gold mine to a Singapore company, Asidokona, in 2015, for a reported price of K81.35 million. However, Mine Watch can reveal, the government has only ever received K700,000.

Despite Petromins claims Asidokona would invest heavily in the mine infrastructure, a new road and restart production, the whole deal looked dodgy from the very start.

Then Mining Minister, Byron Chan, described Asidokona as reputable, committed but  Asidokona is not a mining company, it is a front for Singaporean speculator, Philip Soh Sai Kiang     .

In 2016 Mine Watch revealed that Asidokona was trying to offload the mine for US$ 212 million to a Singapore nightclub company, LifeBrandz. That deal fell through.

All the while the government has been trying to convince landowners that mining will soon recommence...

Sunday, 18 February

23:46

Nautilus Minerals working with ghosts "IndyWatch Feed Enviro.pacific"

Nautilus Minerals has been going through a rough time recently, so rough the company is now claiming to be working in partnership with a ghost, a company that no longer exists.

Nautilus Minerals wants to be the first to mine the seabed, but has been on financial life support since last year, unable to raise the $300 million it needs to complete its preparations for mining. In the meantime it is being kept alive only by a series of short-term loans from its major shareholders.

To make matters worse, in November last year, the company supposed to be supplying the mining support vessel, the key piece of infrastructure for a seabed mining operation, cut off funding for the ship build.

With no money and no ship and forced to close its Papua New Guinea offices, perhaps it is no surprise senior staff have started bailing too. First, Chairman Russell Debney, on December 27...

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