MCC turns to logging spin doctor for better image
25 September 2011
MCC, THE CHINESE State owned mining company behind the troubled Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea, has recruited Alan Oxley [pictured] and his consultancy company ITS Global to try and improve its public image.
Oxley and ITS are already well known in Papua New Guinea for their work for the notorious Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau for whom they regularly produce supposedly independent reports and opinion pieces defending RH’s illegal and unsustainable logging operations and human rights abuses.
Oxley and ITS also operate under the guise of the World Growth Institute. A group of eminent scientists recently published an open letter accusing Oxley of “significant distortions and misrepresentations or misinterpretation of facts” on the impacts of logging in PNG.
The Ramu nickel mine, in which Australian based Highlands Pacific is a junior partner, is facing an ever growing mountain of problems, hence MCC is hoping Oxley can raise its flagging fortunes and improve a terrible public image.
The National Court recently declared that the Ramu mine’s plans to dump its toxic waste into the sea 150 metres offshore breached PNG’s Constitution and will cause both a private and public nuisance.
Local landholders are now appealing the court’s refusal to grant a permanent injunction stopping the dumping to the Supreme Court.
There is also another court case from inland landholders who live around the mine site but claim they have never been consulted or compensated for the use of their land. Some of this group have regularly been attacked and had their homes burnt down by police operating at the behest of MCC.
On top of this the mine is also facing a revolt from a previously loyal small sect of landowners who have been favoured with compensation and re-housing who have now declared they will stop the mine proceeding if their benefits are not increased.
Source: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch, 23 September
This is a difficult situation for MCC and the need to obtain external advice is long overdue.
It is doubtful, however, that a 'spin' doctor will achieve the healing of MCC's fractious relationship with the community, and yet it is a harmonious relationship with the community that MCC needs above all else to succeed.
The company can choose to fight its community with public relations, court cases, government and police intervention, or it can choose to listen to the community and engage with critics to deliver a project and build a relationship that has the potential to bring lasting benefits to PNG.
The course of action the company has chosen is clear. That it is likely to fail in winning the hearts and minds of the people with this exercise is also clear.
Posted by: Alex Harris | 26 September 2011 at 08:11 AM
Some useful background info on Mr Oxley here -
Posted by: Peter Kranz | 25 September 2011 at 07:16 PM
A challenge for PNG to think deep; external corruption comes into play in such situations as this.
That's also one of the reasons as to why parents ought to be pushing for PNG children to be better educated since our globalised politics is far too complicated and needs intellectual minds to deal with it.
This is what the book 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man' by John Perkins talks about...
Politicians and citizens, think and be responsible because our country has long being running outside the track.
Are we prepared to sacrifice to liberate PNG?
Posted by: Leonard Roka | 25 September 2011 at 03:40 PM