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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chan refutes Simberi Landowner claim

MINING Minister Byron Chan has refuted landowner claims over the removal of Australian mining firm Allied Gold in Simberi, New Ireland province.
This follows recent comments made in the media by the Simberi Mines landowner spokesman regarding proposed changes by the mining ministry to replace Allied Gold which the minister said is a lie.
“The proposed change to replace Allied Gold Plc in Simberi that was reported in the Post Courier by Henry Salin, the SML 136 Landowners’ spokesman is baseless argument and lacks truth at this stage.
“Yes there is talk about interest over certain actions with ongoing discussions by the Tabar Landowners and their proposed partner and developer that I am aware is happening. And these are discussions seen fit by the mandated and legitimate representatives of the landowners such as the Simberi Mining Area Association (SMAA) and the Tatau and Big Tabar Landowner Associations,” Chan said.
He explained, “the State, I must clearly express here that it has no part in it and it is not obliged to be part of those private talks or negotiations they have carried out. Salin should know this as normal process and not to take the matter further than that and raise unwarranted statement that serves partisan and other interests”.
Chan said any developer or investor wishing to look into existing business or new business opportunity is a normal practice and is an internal affair for those concerned.
“As Minister for Mining I have responsibility to protect the interest of the state and the people in any matter that fall under and within my ministerial responsibility.
“Therefore, in terms of breaches and non-compliance, if any is proven, say within Simberi Gold operation or another mine in PNG, it is my lawful duty and within powers enabling me under relevant state laws to step in and take necessary actions. This may include referral action as the case may require. In the mean time there is none and no need for alarm.
“I want to remind Salin and his faction 136 Leaders that there had been several concerns raised about the Simberi Gold operation and it has taken a long time to resolve due to differences and non-cooperation by ML 136 and the developer not coming to the round table  talks. This had happened in the past meetings, so how do we solve our problems if other parties do not come to talks aimed at finding an amicable and lasting solution.
“As part of my responsibility I have instituted another inter-state agency team to investigate the Simberi operation and I await the findings for this.
“I caution Salin and his band of ML 136 leaders to be careful in making their statements’ to suggest that the Simberi issue may result in a crisis likened to Bougainville.
“This is utter nonsense and unfounded. If the SML 136 Leaders think and suggest this, they are treading on a fine and dangerous line and it is better for them to confine themselves to the issue at hand and deal with their landowner concerns via dialogue, consensus and peaceful process we all aspire to guard,” Chan said.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chan condemns MRA boss

MINING Minister Byron Chan has described acting Mineral Resource Authority Director Kepas Wali’s recent public statement against New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan in the media as outrageous and in total disrespect.

He was responding to recent comments Mr Wali made in a full page paid press release regarding the implementation of Public Investment Program (PIP) projects under the Lihir MOA and Simberi.
Mr Wali said in his statement that he had followed due process in executing the expenditure of PIP projects and that earlier outburst by Governor Sir Julius for lack of consultation and in breach of protocol is uncalled for.
However, Minister Chan in support of the provincial government has condemned actions of Mr Wali saying he has failed measurably to consult the provincial government in implementing the original Lihir MOA commitments and revised MOA commitments as well as non payment of Special Support Grant (SSG) and Infrastructure Development Grant (IDG) to New Ireland Provincial Government.
“Basically the fact that MRA acting MD (Kepas) completely failed to administer original Lihir MOA commitments that Sir J as Prime Minister in 1995 agreed on four major infrastructure projects and revised MOA commitments of May, 2007 estimated around K400 million in the Alternative Dispute Resolution process.
“MRA should admit that it has led the State into confusion and the province into conflict. This is total blunder and slap in the face of the government of New Ireland.
“I believe other mining provinces are also affected by MRA’s lack of attention and focus as Namatanai district, my electorate,” Chan said.
He said any consultation must go through the Provincial Executive Council (PEC) and this has not been adhered to by MRA boss thus, bypassing normal government protocols and procedures.
The minister added that all PIP project expenditure where clearly outlined or captured in the provincial budget and it was only fair the acting Managing Director should work within the framework of the budget in delivering the projects.
Furthermore, while Mr Wali claims that all is well in delivering PIP projects in the province Chan said he (Mr Wali) has failed to address existing MOA reviews of Lihir, Simberi and Nautilus.
“The provincial government must be given the recognition and representatives of MRA must follow proper procedures and laws under the MOA. The failure has led to Lihir LLG and landowners of Simberi not receiving their royalties when I intervened as minister,” he said.
The Minister also questioned the motive why there was huge PIP project expenditure concentrated on Namatanai electorate alone and not others as highlighted by Mr Wali in his media statement.
He said the focus on delivering PIP projects should also go to other mine impacted provinces in the country such as Porgera, Tabubil, Ramu, Yandera, Bougainville, Sinivit, Wafi Golopu and Hidden Valley.
“I as minister I’m ashamed that all PIP projects have been directed to my Namatanai electorate. The focus on Namatanai has been shameful and total disrespect for the country and other mining provinces.
“I also question the current nature of PIP expenditure disbursement in my electorate which I believe is a conflict of interest and deliberate campaign strategy using public office. I will refer the matter to appropriate authorities for further action.
“I call on Kepas to restrain from making public statements on this matter and should not take credit but apologise to the people of New Ireland and the country as a whole for not financing the NIPG budgets for the past four years with outstanding SSGs and IDGs and other projects listed in revised MOA of May, 2007 which the State is obliged and MRA is responsible for,” Chan said.

Chan to fix Namatanai Secondary School

MINING Minister and Namatanai MP Byron Chan has assured concerned parents, students and staff of Namatanai Secondary School in New Ireland Province that he will continue his support for a major infrastructure overhaul of the school.
The Minister made the assurance after learning of a petition which went before the school’s board and administration by disgruntle parents, students and staff regarding the deteriorating state of the school infrastructure that needs major revamp.
A concerned Parents Working Committee chaired by Abraham Alapi has submitted a series of petition letters to the school’s administration and the District Administrator since November last year and the recent being just last month regarding their grievances and demands.
However, Minister Chan said he acknowledged the wear and tear of school buildings and facilities of Namatanai Secondary School over the years and will intervene to address the problem.
“I have always supported this school in other ways but not so much in major repair and maintenance since it is the only secondary school in my Namatanai electorate. I will continue to support the school through my Joint District Planning and Budget Priority Committee (JDP & BPC).
“I had requested a full maintenance proposal totaling K1 million which was to be funded under the Rehabilitation of Education Service Infrastructure program (RESI). When I submitted this proposal to all RESI stakeholders for funding I was told the funds had been exhausted and we missed out on RESI funding as a result.
“In December 2, 2011, I met a working Committee for Namatanai Secondary with the Principal and his Deputy Principal including the Chairman and other members who presented a report on the urgent work needed to be done in the school. I authorized K50,000 for immediate repair and maintenance to start and I am informed that work had commenced on this K50,000.
“My JDP & BPC also approved another K100,000 in early January 2012 for immediate release to continue the repair and maintenance work on the school. This will prepare the school for a smooth resumption of classes in February 2012,” Chan explained.
Minister Chan said, “NIPG did not receive any appropriated funds from Special Support Grants (SSG) and Infrastructure Development Grant (IDG) that is owed by MRA to the province and this failure led to many such important institutions are left unattended to such an appalling state. The State through MRA failed to pay outstanding grants and commitments to New Ireland to carry much needed repair and maintenance work which led to the bad state of Namatanai Secondary School”.
Furthermore the Minister said, “an additional amount of K3 million under Newcrest Tax Credit Scheme (TCS) that will be spent on Namatanai Secondary during the year for further facelift on the school buildings and facilities. This funding thankfully is supported by the New Ireland Provincial Government (NIPG) and me as the local MP. These funds are prioritized funding for Namatanai Secondary. I hope that every single toea of these funds are expended and accounted for so that the state of the school buildings and facilities been condemned get a real facelift because there is definitely more money now available for Namatanai Secondary maintenance”.
“I call on the contractors to work well within the short time remaining by doing diligent and quality work so that the children can start their classes as scheduled by the Department of Education.  I also ask all the parents whose children will be attending Namatanai Secondary in 2012 to be patient and allow the identified maintenance work to go ahead unimpeded before the students can be asked to start classes for 2012,” Chan said.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chan assures Aussie counterpart

Ferguson and Chan

MINING minister Byron Chan has reassured his Australian counterpart Martin Ferguson that Australia’s investment in the mining sector in Papua New Guinea will not be deterred by the proposed amendments to the mining act.

Minister Chan who was accompanied by MRA acting managing director Kepas Wali and First Secretary Gaius Toaligur met with Mr Ferguson, Australia’s Minister for Resources and Energy in Melbourne on Friday after returning from a mining conference in   Accra, Ghana where he briefed him of the current mining review and other policy issues the government will undertake.

“I assured the Federal Minister on Australia’s huge investment in PNG’s mining sector that there is no immediate changes to the act to give ownership back to landowners. Currently, the State owns the resources,” Chan said.

He told Mr Ferguson that the decision to make the amendment to the 1992 mining act is only political but made an undertaking to immediately set up a special committee to look into the changes.

“I cannot change the policy overnight with PNG already having multi-billion kina companies operating in the extractive industry. Anything to change will be drastic and a big blow to the economy.

“However, my immediate agenda now is to look into the mining act and amend certain provisions of the act with consultation from all stakeholders so that landowners, government and investors are equally benefited,” minister Chan said.

The minister also noted that he will be pushing for a policy to be in place within the proposed mining act for an establishment of environment protection and rehabilitation fund.

The fund he said will assist mining areas and increase more benefit for landowners and provincial governments where mining operations are currently in progress.

Meanwhile, Mr Ferguson thanked his counterpart and said the meeting is a forward for the two countries and paves way for the upcoming Australia – PNG bilateral ministerial forum in Canberra this week.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

India high commissioner visits Chan

India High Commissioner A.M. Gondane posing for a picture with Mining Minister Byron Chan.

INDIA's high commissioner His Excellency A.M Gondane made a courtesy call on mining minister Byron Chan’s office recently to discuss investment opportunities that India would like to explore in the mining and petroleum sector in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Gondane who took office three weeks ago after serving as Ambassador in Washington was mostly impressed about the country’s overall economic growth performance of eight percent which he said is similar to India.
On a diplomatic note he said India and Papua New Guinea are developing nations and share similar development setbacks including poverty, health, education and over population and there needs to be  greater cooperation between the two countries. 
One important aspect of their meeting was the need to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place between the PNG Government and the Central Government of India.

The MOU in their brief discussions have looked at several key issues that would be more beneficial to the mining sector in PNG which India has agreed to provide through its ministry of mining.

This includes:
  • Development of skills – skills training
  • Procurement of machinery
  • Information & Technology
  • Mining related issues – tailor made solutions
  • State Enterprise participation; and
  • Investment protection agreement

“We would like to participate and we are ready in areas of exploration and extraction where we would like our relationship to be respectable to host country,” Mr Gondane said.

Minister Chan who was impressed by the high commissioner’s visit and the discussions said he will consult his department.

“I would require the department to look into drafting a MOU for this cause as I believe the MOU is a way forward for the country,” he said.