The world is ours, let’s act that way
How the ethics program fell back to earth

The bare-faced lie of sustainable mining

Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke and European Union Ambassador H.E Mr. Jernej Videtic
PNG mining minister Johnson Tuke, who falsely claims PNG mining is sustainable & has trouble wearing a face mask,  poses with ambassador Jernej Videtic of the European Union, which is trying to convince PNG that 'green mining' is a thing


MADANG – At a meeting to discuss sustainable mining with European Union ambassador to PNG, Jernej Videtic, Papua New Guinea’s mining minister Johnson Tuke claimed his government is mindful of the impact mining has on the environment and people’s livelihoods.

Tuke also claimed the PNG government is addressing these issues by updating its regulatory framework and demanding investors introduce modern and sustainable technologies to diminish the negative impact of mining on the environment.

These claims were totally wrong. They were without truth.

In fact the PNG government has made no effort to update regulations governing mining companies. Neither has the government demanded that they introduce modern and sustainable technologies to diminish the environmental damage of mining.

Large scale extractive activities like mining and logging have devastated much of PNG's environment and and harmed many of the people of PNG, even resulting in loss of life.

Waste disposal from process plants and sediment runoff from open cut mines have been dumped into rivers and oceans, smothering riverbeds and seabeds with heavy metal contamination and other toxicities.

PNG still uses waste disposal methods long outlawed in other parts of the world even though its government has seen first hand their shocking consequences.

The Fly River has effectively died because of dumped riverine tailings. 

Basamuk Bay off Madang has also been polluted by deep sea tailings.

There was recently a pipeline failure at Simberi in New Ireland at a mine which uses deep sea tailings placement, in use since the 1970s but banned in many countries, but not in PNG.

PNG accepts deep sea tailings' many risks, including smothering the seabed, release of toxic metals and tailings contaminating inshore marine environments that people rely on for subsistence.

There is also no regulatory framework for new activities like sand mining.

Recently, the people of Sumgilbar kicked out a Singaporean company, Niugini Sands Limited, that wanted to mine in Madang. The coastline there is a nesting ground to the endangered leatherback turtle.

Wenceslaus Magun and Sir Arnold Amet mobilised the people to resist the environmental destroyers.

Nautilus has pulled out of its venture to mine the depths of the sea in New Ireland after fierce resistance from Jonathan Mesulam, Oigen Wandalu Schulze, Nat Lowrey and others.

The PNG government and Mayur Resources are pushing for coal mining in PNG, an dying extractive industry that is out of date and should not be even considered suitable in this era of climate change.

All the while, the government talks of responsible and sustainable mining. There is no such thing.

The government is planning to open new mines at Wafi-Golpu, Woodlark and the Sepik (Frieda) which will use environmentally destructive methods like deep sea, riverine or dam tailings.

Wafi-Golpu waste will be dumped into the Huon Gulf while the Frieda mine will store waste in a dam at the head of the Sepik river which, according to experts, will collapse and destroy the Sepik river.

The European Union is pushing its Green Deal, also known as the green mining concept.

The term ‘greenwashing’ is applied to projects that provide misleading information about how a company's products are environmentally sound.

We must not be blinded by greenwashing and allow these environmental terrorists to plunder PNG’s resources and environment.

The PNG government and these exploitative companies do not care about the environment or the people who will be affected.

We have witnessed too much environmental destruction.

Let us end this madness.


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Arthur Williams

If any one doubts the dubious value of huge mining projects it is worth viewing 'France Death-grip On Niger's Uranium'.

Niger is one of the world's poorest nations.

Arthur Williams

There are still 5,000 coal tips in the UK with 1,200 in Wales.

Last year: There was a report 2020/03/14 'The instability hidden in our hillsides: How safe are Wales' coal tips'
After the landslides of Storm Dennis, questions have revealed how hard it is to find information about the safety of Wales' 1,200 coal tips by Ruth Mosalski Political Editor

"In February, thousands of tonnes of rock and debris slide down the side of the valley from the Llanwonno tip in Tylorstown. One local councillor said an estimated 30,000 tonnes of debris was dislodged by prolonged rain, luckily just sliding onto an unoccupied ravine below.

"As a comparison, in the Aberfan disaster, 150,000 tonnes of coal waste collapsed onto the village. The collapse at Llanwonno was one of several landslides to happen in Rhondda Cynon Taf Council area during the torrential rain of Storm Dennis..."

The RCT Council mentioned told reporter "It has 253 sites and that 11 in the most at risk Category D that are deemed to be of direct/indirect risk to life and property with known history of movement or instability.


Bernard Corden

Dear Editor,

Does the Queen like corgis?

Is the Pope a Catholic?

Did Rose Elizabeth Kennedy have a black dress?

Do bears shit in the woods?

Does the editor hate answering rhetorical questions?

Philip Fitzpatrick

And you religiously watch 'Sunrise' on Channel 7 every morning Bernard.

Bernard Corden

After the Aberfan disaster in 1966 the immediate concern was the geotechnical stability of additional surrounding slag heaps. After prolonged discussions with the community, the government and the National Coal Board furtively plundered money from the disaster fund to subsidise removal of the remaining tips.

Sustainable mining indeed.

Arthur Williams

In 1999 I took a picture of a sign erected by Lihir Mining's environment department at the beach directly in front of the Alaia Sacred Rock of Lihir in Kapit Bay.

There was just enough room between it and the high water mark for the main road from the Londolavit Base Camp to the gold refinery across the bay. The sign read: 'Do Not Enter. Personnel are not permitted to enter this area at any time. This is a wild life reserve. Any unauthorised entry may result in dismissal or legal action'.

Since then the mining company has been dumping rock spoil into the bay thus drastically reducing the environmental plan’s allowed minimum distance from the shore line to the designated site for deep sea tailing disposal possibly half kilometre from the shore.

The company is thus in breach of the government’s laws.
A clear recent picture is at:

In the mid-1990s my mates and I in our small local environmental NGO wrote quite a long submission asking major international NGOs to get involved pre-production.

We asked that a ring of sea water quality monitoring points be established around the Lihir island group; also on neighbouring Anir and Tanga islands as well as across on the mainland of New Ireland. Sadly not one even bothered to reply to our request.

I do not know if the PNG government's mining or conservation officers have access to the periodic sea quality testing that Lihir mine conducts but it may be that like the Porgera mine they are private.

I was amazed to learn that in Porgera's mine environmental plan it was agreed there would be no testing in quite a long stretch of the river that the miner designated as a 'Mixing Zone'.

In 1997 I was one of only a few NGO reps that attended the miners-fest conference in Madang and it was there I first heard the laughable term 'sustainable mining'.

I managed to get a question to the extractors' gathering on such a stupid idea. Possibly because of my having grown up with coal miner relatives and near the filthy black River Taff that took away the filthy runoff from the hundred or more mines that had used it as a free sewer.

Only after Maggie Thatcher's wholesale closure of mines was it eventually returned to once more having fish living in it.

A Mr Ryan became a millionaire out of that long clean-up as his machinery dredged the detritus of 200 years of mining from the river's banks and bed by turning the muck into black briquettes for space heating stoves.

Just two other comments.

The Wafi Golpu mine I read somewhere that a lot of the spoil from its mining will be re-interred in the holes dug underground.

I also think the current K92 mine in Kainantu also has no waste pipeline.

Thanks Duncan for your timely post.

Bernard Corden

Dear Phil,

My favourite authors - Jeffrey Archer and Ayn Rand
My favourite political commentators - Gerard Henderson and Andrew Bolt
My favourite politician - Tony Abbott
My favourite TV program - Sky News
My favourite journalist - Miranda Devine
My favourite political advocacy group - The John Birch Society

Did I pass the audition?

William Dunlop

My dear Bernard, sustainable mining indeed. Well spoken.

Queensland has been or rather was once well known as the land of the gerrymander and looks like it still is.

Fits in well with your Tammany Hall pork barrelling.

Bejases, begooooragh. You can't blame this all on the Irish.

And as for Clive Palmer, well he was once part of the Jo Show and his offsider, the one time minister for everything, Russel Hinze.

It ails not so well in the good ship of state of Queensland steaming along with the premier's hands firmly on the tiller.
Slainte Wm.

There is no evidence of gerrymandering or entrenched state corruption in Queensland - KJ

Bernard Corden

The following links provide access to ample substantive evidence covering the consanguineous relationships between the Queensland state government and many corporate brigands across the resources sector.

It is reminiscent of Tammany Hall politics and the consequences are often catastrophic:

a) Over 200 confirmed cases of mine dust lung diseases.

b) A spate of fatalities across the coal and metalliferous mining sector.

c) The Anglo Coal Grosvenor mine explosion.

Sustainable mining indeed.

William Dunlop

Phil, sesquipedalian, you can put it down to differentiation, perhaps.

Well, Phil/Bernard.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Ah, sesquipedalian. Such a delicious word. It has so much programmatic specificity about it.

I really enjoy you comments, quotes and occasional articles, Bernard, as I'm sure do other readers, but we don't know much about you or even what you look like.

There's an expose of 'PNG Attitude' commentators and writers in an appendix of the blog's history, 'Fighting for a Voice'. If there's ever an update we'll need all the gritty details.

William Dunlop

Yes Phil, I heard on the grapevine from a former PNG hand that the spill was caused by one of the radical unionised workers opening the wrong valve.

The Mirarr people have always called the mining area sickness country, as they call the proposed new mining area.

The continuation of mining in no way deterred the Mirarr from receiving their royalties, many millions, and good luck to them.

Now the Jaburu township has become a burden on Federal and the Northern Territory governments with the closing and full rehabilitation of the mine.

The township doesn't pay its way and will be heavily subsidised, including a new gas-fired power station which is presently under construction.

NB, the mine rehabilitation is being paid for by the Smiling Thieves of Threadneedle Street in the City of Old London Town.

Stephen Charteris

Sustainable mining is an oxymoron. Like military intelligence, honest politician or mining benefit.

How have the common people benefitted from any extractive industry operation in PNG?

Mining is the rape of the land, rivers and oceans that have sustained you for millennia.

Lindsay F Bond

Contempt of all other humans and creatures too, lies beneath the surface of the "its all mine" notions.

Philip Fitzpatrick

And the same companies keep doing it over and over again because they know they can get away with it.

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), owned by Rio Tinto, will close the Ranger Uranium Mine in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory this year after a series of uranium leaks and spills since it opened in 1980.

Traditional owners have long held concerns over environmental safety and damage due to the mine's operations.

They also point to the incidence of cancer among traditional owners living near the mine, which is twice the rate in other communities. ERA points to a report that denies this connection.

A uranium spill of over 1,000 cubic metres of slurry in 2013 led to calls for an audit of the mine. In 2015, ERA was told its plan for a mining lease extension no longer had the consent of Mirarr traditional owners yet it still kept operating.

Bernard Corden

Raw sewage was dumped off shore at Bondi Beach several decades ago and became eponymous with the iconic Australian blues band The Bondi Cigars.

Bernard Corden

A fabulous article. I have even seen Qantas promoting sustainable jet fuel and at the University of Queensland we have the Sustainable Minerals Institute:

The language on its website is littered with turgid sesquipedalian hogwash and the most notable omission from its leadership team is Clive Palmer BFC.

"War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength" - George Orwell

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