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Monday, 19 February

11:42

How SABLs are disrupting communities and creating conflict Act Now! blogs

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 replenished, bird species have become more visible and food is plentiful.

But now they are battling a decision that overrides theirs to keep their conservation area.

They wanted to build a road into our land and we said: NO, says Peter Kikeleng, the Ward Councillor who only found about the oil palm development plan for his land during an LLG council meeting at Palmalmal.

There was only one copy of the document being pa...

10:45

Government nets next to nothing from Tolukuma mine sale Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

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...

09:46

Nautilus Minerals working with ghosts Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

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...

Sunday, 18 February

03:44

Habitat loss and hunting have eliminated more than 100,000 Bornean orangutans, report states CHANGING TIMES

Photo courtesy of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.

The number of orangutans on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo plummeted between 1999 and 2015, according to a new report.

The population decreased by more than 140,000 over the period, scientists have deduced, and the causes range from land clearance for industrialised plantations to hunting.

The most severe population declines occurred in areas in which habitat had been removed, the researchers concluded. However, most orangutans were lost from forests, which, the scientists say, suggests that hunting is a major cause of the decrease in numbers.

The researchers say habitat degradation and loss is happening in response to the local and global demand for natural resources, including timber and agricultural products.

In their report, which was published in Current Biology, the researchers point to what they call the unsustainable use of natural resources.

They say their modelling indicates that, between 1999 and 2015, half of the Bornean orangutan population was affected by logging, deforestation, or industrialised plantations. They estimate that there were 1...

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