NEWS ( Melanesia/Pacific) 7 August 2012.
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2)Highlands Pacific lauds mineral projects in PNG
By Online Editor
3:57 pm GMT+12, 07/08/2012, Papua New Guinea
Highlands Pacific managing director John Gooding says a lot has been achieved in the past year at Ramu nickel in Madang, Frieda River copper and gold in East Sepik and Star Mountains in Western highlands.
He said in the company’s quarterly activities report for the period ended June 30, this year, this was recognised from a corporate perspective in June when the US$1.4 billion PNG Sustainable Development Program invested US$15 million in Highlands and became a cornerstone investor.
“This new funding will provide working capital and allow us to further advance emerging exploration activities such as Star Mountains near the Ok Tedi mine,” Gooding said.
“The transaction also broadens our already significant relationships in PNG.
“On the Frieda project, Highlands will continue its communication with Xstrata over the coming months about their ongoing role and participation in the joint venture, including the potential for their divestment and new or additional partners, while working through the feasibility study due for delivery in December.”
The report said Ramu nickel’s Kurumbukari mine, Basamuk treatment plant and 135km slurry pipeline to the treatment plant continue to operate as planned while commissioning progressed.
“Ore mined to the end of June totalled 550,000 tonnes while ore transported to the Basamuk treatment plant as slurry via the slurry pipeline to the end of June was 191,000 tonnes,” it said,
“The average grade of the laterite ore mined was 0.94% nickel and 0.10% cobalt.
“The Basamuk treatment plant incorporates three high pressure acid leach (HPAL) trains (autoclaves).
“During the June quarter, the first autoclave was shut down for planned maintenance for six weeks after successfully being load-commissioned.
“The second autoclave also commenced load commissioning and operated for much of the quarter before being shut down in July for planned maintenance.”
“About 2,750 tonnes (dry) of mixed nickel cobalt hydroxide intermediate product has been produced to the end of June.”
The report said field work at Frieda River in relation to the feasibility study scheduled for completion in December 2010 was essentially complete, with some continued base line monitoring and community affairs and landownership determination programmes continuing.
“Xstrata as operator manager continues to advance the feasibility study with a natural gas power assessment well underway, with a project site reconfiguration review and general optimisation of the project execution model,” it said.
“In June, Xstrata notified Highlands that it was undertaking an investor assessment of the FriedaRiver project.
“Highlands is in discussion with Xstrata regarding this process, including its pre-emptive right, together with the ongoing work on the feasibility study which Xstrata has restated its commitment to completing by end of this year.”
In Star Mountains, Highlands’ estimates spending US$8-10 million this year to test a further four to five prospects in the area post the successful drilling at the Olgal prospect.
Drilling at Olgal was completed in March with 12 of 14 holes encountering copper and gold mineralisation.
“Exploration in the June quarter was hampered by mechanical repairs to the two drill rigs,” the report said.
“The drilling contractor has taken corrective action and made a number of changes to ensure better performance going forward.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
3)PNG investment in Australia hits US$1.2 billion
By Online Editor
3:58 pm GMT+12, 07/08/2012, Australia
Papua New Guinea’s investment in Australia reached US$1.2 billion, equal to 12.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, according to Asian Development Bank country economist Aaron Batten.
This was 350% higher than the amount of money invested by Australian companies in PNG, he said.
Batten said the benefits of strong economic growth were being undermined by rising inequality.
“Rising inequality is partly a result of constraints on diversified business investment.” Batten said.
“Whilst the stock of private sector employment has doubled over the last decade, ADB estimates show that less than 5% of the population – or roughly 10% of the working age population – are currently able to earn a wage in the formal economy.
“PNG’s chief operating officers’ survey highlights that a shortage of skilled labour, poor law and order, lack of technical expertise, unreliable utilities from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the poor state of transport infrastructure impose major barriers on investment in the more labour-intensive and pro-poor, non-mineral economy.
“These constraints combined with rising firm profitability, have led to a dramatic outflow of investment funds from PNG over the last decade.”
Batten said PNG’s macroeconomic success masked a growing sense of unease about the distribution of the benefits of growth and the government’s ability to translate wealth and macroeconomic stability into better public services.
“Progress has been made in some areas,” he said.
“The proportion of the road network classified as being in ‘good’ condition has risen from 10% in 2003 to 33% last year, and under-five mortality rates have fallen in many provinces.
“However, available evidence suggests that many areas of core public services have deteriorated over the last decade, particularly in rural and remote areas.
“PNG is one of a handful of countries not on track to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals.”
Batten said high inflation also undermined the inclusiveness of growth.
“Although wage earners can negotiate higher wages when costs rise, the roughly 85% of the population reliant on cash crops for their semi-subsistence livelihoods have seen their purchasing power deteriorate rapidly in recent years,” he said.
“Structural constraints in land and housing markets have restricted the supply response to rising property demand and contributed to sharply increasing rental prices.
“As a result, a growing portion of urban residents are now forced to live in informal urban settlements, which have poor access to power and sanitation facilities and significant security risks.”
Batten said PNG’s booming mining sector was creating growing inequalities at the village level as well.
“With low education and financial literacy, members of some segments of the PNG population find it difficult to hold leaders to account for the equitable distribution of mining royalty payments,” he said.
“A particularly difficult challenge for government during the next 12 months will be managing the 8,000 local workers who will begin to be retrenched from the LNG project.
“Landowner groups are now highlighting the potential for social unrest if alternative work arrangements for their workers cannot be found.”.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
4)Chancery to strengthen US ties in PNG: Bogari
By Online Editor
4:03 pm GMT+12, 07/08/2012, Papua New Guinea
Bilateral ties between Papua New Guinea and the United States will be strengthened with the building of a new US chancery.
The official groundbreaking ceremony for the chancery took place yesterday at Harbour City in Konedobu, Port Moresby.
The historic occasion was witnessed by acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Lucy Bogari, US Ambassador Teddy Taylor, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Cecil Haney, Papua New Guinea Defence Force commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi and other dignitaries.
Bogari said it was a significant diplomatic event on PNG soil, especially with the new government taking office last week.
“This day marks a significant milestone in the bilateral relations between PNG and US,” she said.
“It is a development that PNG whole-heartedly welcomes.
“The PNG government views the decision by the United States of America to build a chancery for the embassy in PNG as a clear statement of the US long-term commitment to the PNG-US relations.
“This follows an equally significant decision by the US government to locate a US Aid office for the Pacific here, again a reflection of PNG-US growing bilateral engagement.”
She added that the steadily increasing level of capital by US companies in PNG, notably in the mining, petroleum and oil and gas sectors, has been a major driver in the growth of the relationship between the two countries.
“The most notable of US investment being ExxonMobil, the developer of the LNG project, making the US the single largest investor in the country,” she said.
Bogari said the US government was a major contributor towards PNG’s efforts to protect biodiversity through the International Coral Reef Initiative, which focused on preserving coral reefs, fisheries and food security.
She said other areas in which the US continued to support the country was in human resource development, the public sector and most recently, supporting the Electoral Commission deliver the 2012 general election.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
5)Bible translated into PNG’s Marik language
By Online Editor
4:00 pm GMT+12, 07/08/2012, Papua New Guinea
More than three thousand people in the Transgogol area of Madang District who speak the Marik language can now read the New Testament Bible in their local dialect.
This follows about thirty six years of hard work by bible translators from the PNG Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL).
The translated New Testament was launched last Saturday, marked by cultural singing and dancing and choirs by the local people at Gonoa Village.
Korean translator Sung told NBC News after the launch in the village that it has been a great challenge for him to translate the New Testament.
He attributed the success to God, emphasizing as well that it was also his passion that pushed him to complete the translation.
Sung and his wife will be leaving the country in two weeks to the United States where they had become citizens.
SOURCE: NBC NEWS/PACNEWS
6)West-Papuan activist has name removed from Interpol wanted list
Posted at 20:48 on 06 August, 2012 UTC
A West-Papuan activist has won his battle to be removed from an Interpol wanted list.
Benny Wenda, the head of the Free West Papua Movement, had been issued with a red notice and was at risk of arrest and extradition.
He has lived with his wife and children in the English city of Oxford since being granted asylum in Britain nine years ago.
The Indonesian authorities say they wanted him to stand trial for murder and arson, offences he denies.
But Interpol decided the case against Mr Wenda was “political”.
In a letter to Fair Trials International, which has campaigned on his behalf, the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files says it has deleted information about his case from its records.
The British government accepted Mr Wenda’s asylum application in 2002 after hearing allegations he had been persecuted by the Indonesian authorities.
Radio New Zealand International
7)Vanuatu Law Society holding public debates on drugs and sex work
Posted at 19:40 on 06 August, 2012 UTC
People in Vanuatu’s capital have the opportunity to say whether marijuana should be decriminalised, as part of the Vanuatu Law Society’s Law Week.
One of the event’s main organisers, Arthur Faerua, says there are many different activities taking place to publicise the role of lawyers and the law in his country.
But he says public debates on marijuana and sex work will test people’s appetite for their legalisation.
“We cannot help but accept the fact that marijuana is now widely used in Vanuatu, especially in the towns, and young people have access to marijuana, marijuana grows naturally in Vanuatu, but of course the laws in Vanuatu are not able to deal with marijuana as such and the court system is not able to deal entirely with the problem of marijuana.”
Arthur Faerua says rehabilitation and education are the solutions to the problem of marijuana.
Radio New Zealand International
8)Vanuatu opposition unhappy with government stance on Phocea
Posted at 06:17 on 06 August, 2012 UTC
Vanuatu’s opposition Vanuaaku Party says it fears no government ministers will be disciplined or prosecuted over alleged links to the Phocea affair.
Before the luxury yacht Phocea was seized in Port Vila last month, government ministers were reportedly seen on the vessel.
The yacht was searched for suspected trafficking of arms and sale of Vanuatu diplomatic passports, and reports say drugs were found which had been brought onto the boat from the Port Vila area.
The Vanuaaku Party alleges that the suspension of the country’s only officer trained to investigate fraud and international crime, Andrew Kalman, shows that the government wants to shut down a possible probe of these ministers.
Police have declined to comment, referring the matter to the prime minister, Sato Kilman, who is abroad.
Observers say the prime minister’s silence may be due to the politicians in question having repeatedly rescued him in the face of a motion of no confidence.
Mr Kalman plans legal action over his surprise suspension, which he put down to greed and special interests.
Radio New Zealand International
9)Vaccines introduced to fight pneumonia in Fijian children
Posted at 01:42 on 06 August, 2012 UTC
Fijian newborns will become the first to benefit from three life-saving vaccines being introduced to the country in a month.
The pneumococcal vaccine to fight pneumonia will be introduced in September to cut the number of cases in children and newborns.
More than 550 children under five in Fiji suffer from pneumonia each year.
Two other vaccines, the Rotavirus vaccine and the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, vaccine, will also be introduced to immunise thousands against diarrhoea, sepsis, and cervical cancer.
Australia is funding the programme with the help of Fiji’s Ministry of Health.
About 22,000 babies will receive the vaccines over the four-year programme.
Radio New Zealand International
10)Fiji calls for regional solidarity on EPA negotiations
By Online Editor
09:57 am GMT+12, 07/08/2012, Fiji
The Pacific region’s African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) States must cooperate and maintain regional solidarity in order to stand the best chance of successfully negotiating a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) or any other trade agreement.
The management and lack of the Pacific’s ACP affairs has contributed to delays in the EPA negotiations says Fiji’s Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali.
Ali officially opened the meeting of the Pacific ACP States technical working group on fisheries at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi Monday.
Various fisheries related issues arising out of the EPA negotiations between the Pacific ACP States (PACPS) and the European Union are being discussed.
Fisheries and trade officials will propose negotiating options on fisheries related issues in the EPA and draft the legal EPA text by the end of 2012.
This will then be endorsed by the Trade Ministers Meeting in Tonga before negotiations with EU in October.
“The Pacific ACP Trade Ministers in Apia in January 2011 and Papua New Guinea in August 2011 discussed the lack of progress of the EPA negotiations and more importantly the lack of solidarity to negotiate as a united regional bloc,” the permanent secretary said.
“Overall the region has not achieved the level of economic integration and success as a direct consequence of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat wrongfully excluding Fiji – a founding member of the PACP and an integral part of the region from Pacific ACP forums and other trade initiatives.
“The Pacific ACP is an independent group and should not allow third parties or organizations such as Forum Secretariat to question historical relations or drive a wedge between us.”
Ali also highlighted a greater flexibility on the rules for exporting fresh and processed fish from the Pacific ACP region (known as the global sourcing provisions) should be a key request made to the European Union.
Fish is one of the few export commodities from our region that has the potential to maintain and expand its presence in the EU market.
“The recent feasibility study undertaken by the region on exports of fresh, frozen and chilled fish has not only highlighted the export potential of these commodities but the broad economic and social benefits that will arise if the region is allowed the flexibility to cumulate and source fish from external sources,” Ali said.
“The derogation from the normal rules of origin will enable many Pacific ACP members that have the supply but not the processing capacity to benefit from increased exports and job creation.
“The EU has taken a hard-line position on the fisheries chapter and proposed a new chapter on sustainable development in the draft Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) legal text.
“The Pacific ACP States could be pushed to accept a trade agreement that is not to our benefit. As we finalize our negotiating positions and strategies, we need to ask whether we will allow ourselves to be forced into a deal that undermines our independence and economic power as a unified group.”
Ali concluded that the meeting would culminate in the Pacific ACP Trade Ministers meeting in Tonga, which the Pacific region will have face-to-face negotiations with the EU in early October.
He said the meeting was a last opportunity to strengthen, solidify negotiating positions and strategies and meet the deadline of EPA by end of 2012.
The permanent secretary reminded member States that as a region, we shared common interest in the sustainable development and use of our fisheries resources.
11)Fiji unionist confirms naming regime leader in police complaint
Posted at 03:19 on 07 August, 2012 UTC
Fiji Trades Union Congress leader Felix Anthony has rejected the interim government’s claim that he did not file a complaint with police against the leader of the Fiji regime.
The Permanent Secretary of Information, Sharon Smith-Johns, says Mr Anthony has reported some members of the military but neither the Prime Minister nor the Fijian government was included in the complaint.
Mr Anthony says he detailed last month to the Lautoka Police threats and assaults against him by military officers in February last year.
He says he was punched and kicked by at least five soldiers, leaving him with a damaged eardrum and bruising that needed medical care.
He said he finally made the report after eighteen months after being urged to do so by authorities.
“The nature of the complaint was that I was assaulted by some military officers. The second part of the complaint was that the threat was made by the Prime Minister to me and my colleague. I actually named the Prime Minister and I quoted what he had actually said.”
Mr Anthony says he was given a case number and medical forms to fill in.
He said he was told police will start investigating and they would keep him informed.
Police have now declined to comment.
In April, the military denied the allegations, with its spokesman saying if the complainants can give proof of an assault, it should be to the police.
The Information Ministry said at the time it couldn’t make any comments regarding the military.
Radio New Zealand International
12)Nuku’alofa CBD Rebuilding Officially Complete In Tonga
Six years after rioting in capital, Chinese-funded reconstruction ends
NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Aug. 6, 2012) – China will this month officially handover the Nuku’alofa Central Business District (CBD) Project financed with a TOP$118 million [US$67.6 million] loan to the Government of Tonga.
Paula Ma’u the Acting Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet said a tentative date for the handover ceremony was set for August 14, to be held at a public car park in the Nuku’alofa CBD. A high level Chinese delegation was expected to arrive in Tonga later in the week for the ceremony.
The handover marks the completion of the project financed under the TOP$118 million loan, which is the biggest that the government has ever made from China.
Projects completed included the Tungi Colonnade, Taumoepeau Building, O.G. Sanft Building, City Assets (Molisi Tonga Building), the renovation of the Royal Palace, Royco Building, the Vuna Wharf, and civil works which included roads works repair, drainage and a public car park.
The last building completed was Tungi Colonnade, which was handed over to the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in June.
The Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, who is currently on his first official visit to Israel, returns to Tonga on August 13.
Six years after riots destroyed the heart of Nuku’alofa on November 16, 2006, the reconstruction work which started in 2009, is completed.
Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/
13)Tongans offer reward to fight fake visa swindles
By Online Editor
10:11 am GMT+12, 07/08/2012, New Zealand
New Zealand Tongan community leaders say Pacific Island overstayers are taking up jobs that could help their family members move here, and have pledged $1000 as a reward for information that leads to the arrest of people behind visa scams targeting the community.
Several cases have been reported of people promising Tongan overstayers visas to remain in here in exchange for cash payments.
Hundreds have been fooled into believing they can buy residence visas, and the number of Tongan overstayers has increased from 2181 in 2008 to 3109 last year.
An annual immigration quota system, the Pacific Access category, was started in 2002 as a pathway for 250 Tongans to migrate to New Zealand each year.
But despite its popularity, few in the community are able to gain residence through the scheme because they are unable to meet the requirement of finding a job.
“There are only so many jobs in New Zealand for Pacific people, and many of these have gone to overstayers who are taking under-the-table cash payment that’s under the minimum wage,” said community activist Will ‘Ilolahia.
“This is stopping many from bringing their family members over because the jobs that should be for them have gone to the overstayers.”
‘Ilolahia said Tongan leaders have been urging the community to work with authorities, and several meetings have been organised to encourage people in the community to expose the scammers.
He said the visa scammers were crooks who preyed on desperate people who were trying to get a better life.
“We now know who they are, and we have given their names to immigration and the police,” he said.
“We think that some people in the community may be hiding them, and hope the reward will be an added incentive for them to do the right thing.”
Immigration issued a warning in June about fraudsters selling fake visas to Tongan overstayers for $290.
Last year, overstayers from the community were also targeted by scammers who claimed they had the right to issue residency visas under the authority of the “Sovereign Maori Government of Aotearoa”.
The chairman of the Tongan Advisory Council, Melino Maka, said he had received information that the main person behind the fraud was “hiding up north”.
“We are now sending a message through churches and marae there, and using social media like Facebook to urge the community to expose her whereabouts,” Maka said.
Immigration general manager risk and integrity Peter Elms said purchasing fake visas was a criminal act, but “in cases where an overstayer is assisting authorities with a criminal investigation, due consideration will be given to balancing their status with the need to support any judicial process”.
The Samoan community has the most overstayers at 3509.
SOURCE: NZ HERALD/PACNEWS
14)Justice Department To Probe Guam’s Chamorro Land Trust Leases
Refusal of leases ‘based on race or national origin’ prohibited
By Zita Y. Taitano
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Aug. 7, 2012) – The Department of Justice is investigating whether policies and practices of the Chamorro Land Trust Commission (CLTC) on Guam are in violation of the Fair Housing Act, or FHA, on the basis of race or national origin.
In a letter dated Aug. 6 to Attorney General Lenny Rapadas, Steven H. Rosenbaum, chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, noted “a Guam resident filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development against the government of Guam alleging that he was unlawfully denied a residential lease of land subject to the Chamorro Land Trust Act because he is not Chamorro.”
According to the letter, the resident who filed the complaint is Arnold Davis, aka Dave Davis, and who also has another complaint in federal court against the Decolonization Registry process.
“The FHA prohibits, among other things, the refusal to lease dwellings on the basis of race or national origin; discrimination against persons in the terms, conditions, or privilege of rental of dwellings on the basis of race or national origin; publication of advertisements and statements that express a preference or limitation based on race or national origin; and discrimination in the extension of credit and loan guarantees for residential purposes on the basis of race or national origin,” Rosenbaum states in the letter.
He indicated the FHA authorizes the AGO to investigate the matter and take civil action to determine if there is any sign of discrimination.
“We believe that both the public interest and the interests of Guam will best be served by our having complete and accurate information about the CLTC’s land use practices,” Rosenbaum said.
He is also asking the AGO to provide information on people who were denied Chamorro Land Trust Act land leases “for failing to qualify as a native Chamorro or otherwise, over the last five years.”
The Variety contacted AGO spokesperson Carlina Charfauros for comment on the matter, but she could only confirm they received the notification of the DOJ’s investigation “into whether Guam’s land use policies and practices discriminate on the basis of race or national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”
Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com
15)Climate change puts heat on islands
By Online Editor
1:18 pm GMT+12, 07/08/2012, Australia
A climate change report that projects warmer weather and less predictable rainfall for the Pacific has been presented to Government leaders in Tuvalu and Kiribati.
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles said the report Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research by CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology projected increasing temperatures, more very hot days, more extreme rainfall days and rising sea levels for both Tuvalu and Kiribati.
“These rigorous scientific projections are an important piece of work,” Marles said.
“They highlight the challenges the Pacific is facing now and in the future as a result of the effects of climate change.”
He said the report’s projections under a high emissions scenario were for temperature increases for Kiribati of 0.3°C to 1.3°C and 0.4°C to 1°C for Tuvalu by 2030.
He said projections were for an increase in average, seasonal and extreme rainfall days as well as sea level rises of four to 14cm by 2030.
“Australia is strongly committed to addressing the impacts of climate change,” Marles said.
“We have been steadfast in our support for small island developing states such as Kiribati and Tuvalu.
To address climate change impacts in Tuvalu, Australia has provided 757 water tanks for households and schools so they can increase their capacity to store clean water.
“Support in Kiribati includes $8.6 million for the Kiribati Adaptation Program and $13.9 million to improve sanitation in the capital, Tarawa.”.
SOURCE: PS NEWS/PACNEWS