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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wences Magun's Full Script on TVNZ

"TVNZ Pacific Governments are being urged to protect their deep sea
mineral resources, reports TVNZ. Watch the news report:

http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/interest-in-deep-sea-drilling-grows-pacific-video-5391034"

Here's the full script:

Wence Magun grabs

I represent the Civil Society of Papua New Guinea to air our concerns
on deep sea mining. My name is Wenceslaus Magun, from Mas Kagin Tapani
Association – it’s a local NGO. Mas Kagin Tapani stands for ‘Guardians
of the sea’. Our primary focus is to protect the critically endangered
leatherback turtle here in Madang, but we also address threats to the
marine environment, and one of those biggest threats to the marine
environment is the deep sea mining that Nautilus is taking the lead
in, in establishing its project, Solwara 1, in Papua New Guinea.

I’m here not only to represent the Mas Kagin Tapani Association, but a
coalition of NGO and civil society groups that are speaking up on the
issue of deep sea mining in PNG. And the coalition of groups include
Friends of the Earth Australia, Canada Mine Watch, other local NGOs in
PNG including Bismarck Ramu Group, Act Now, and the local communities
as well as academics like Professor Chalapan Kuluwin from the
University of Papua New Guinea and other interested stakeholders.

I think it’s both. I think it’s both. We feel that the process of
issuing a mining license to deep sea mining was rushed. There was not
enough consultation with all stakeholders, a lack of information to
the resource owners, to Papua New Guineans at large. And when you
leave people in darkness, people are afraid. People’s livelihood
depends on marine resources, and the people of the Bismarck Solomon
Seas do not want to be exploited at the whims of their ignorance. That’s
why we have this body that becomes the voice of the voiceless majority
of the people of the Bismarck Solomon Seas. We want to be their ears,
their eyes, their mouth, and that’s the very reason why I’m here, to
represent them, to express their concerns to all the stakeholders. And
I’m glad I’m here and I’m with the mining company, the governments of
all the Pacific Island countries plus NGOs, and I’m glad I’m able to
express our concerns to this group of people so they know that we are
concerned. We don’t want hasty decisions to be made, and the
subsequent result of that would be the damage to the environment and
subsequently affecting our food source.

The miners are telling us that the demand is on deep sea mining now,
and it will happen, but we are getting a very good presentation from
some of the presenters here – one of them is Mary, who is very good in
mining contract law – and she’s advising us not to rush. We must be
prepared. We must plan. We must know what we want to achieve, and that
falls in line with the precautionary principle. And according to
Professor Chalapan Kaluwin it takes 10 to 15 years – even 20 years –
for you to adhere to the precautionary principle before you can
actually go into the deal to allow mining to take place. And look at
Papua New Guinea – it’s not even 10 to 15 years. We’re rushing the
process. What’s the rush? Papua New Guineans are not on life support,
and I’m sure Pacific Islanders are not on life support. We’ve been
living on our land and off our sea for ages. We can’t die if our
marine resources are not being exploited. We’ll still live on fish.
We’ll still live on our garden produce. So who is actually the one who
is going to suffer? I think it’s the miners – not the resource owners,
not Papua New Guineans, not Tongans, not Fijians.

So how urgent is the need to mine? It’s only to make mobile phones and
rockets to the moon – or fighting weapons so they can go and kill each
other in other countries. Not here in Papua New Guinea. We have to see
the contract. Unless we see the contract, we will know exactly how
much benefit we are going to get from that contract agreement. And I
asked the director from the solicitor’s office from Papua New Guinea
yesterday if we could have an access to that contract, and she said
no, we can’t, because the matter is before arbitration. So you see
right now, we don’t know what the deal is, how much benefit we are
going to get. Yet they tell us that we are going to provide these
community services, we’re going to pay tax to the government – when
are they going to pay tax? I think they’re going to give a tax holiday
to the mining company for the next five to 10 years. So in real
essence, they have to actually tell us exactly how much money we’re
going to get. Mining companies have been in Papua New Guinea since independence,
the largest is Bougainville copper mine. Then you have Ok Tedi. And
you have Porgera. But you see, the GDP for Papua New Guinea is very
low. When I came across to Fiji and I changed 100 kina, I only got 75
Fijian dollars. So that really shows that the currency in PNG is low,
despite the fact that we have so many mining companies in the country.

So what proof can you tell me that a seabed mine would make a
difference. The phase of seabed mine, in Solwara 1, is for only two
years. And the area is very small compared to Ok Tedi and Bougainville
copper mine and Porgera and Ramu Nickel. So I don’t think the economic
monetary value that we’re going to get from Solwara 1 will exceed that
of the land mines. So what the rush? Let us exhaust all the land-based
mine first. In the contract we said, ‘okay, thank you mining company
to come and do the exploration. Give us time to peruse your documents
first and give us time to see when we will give you the green light to
go and do that.’ So let’s stick to that. This is our resource – don’t
rush. You must also think of the future generation, because if you
exploit everything now, what about 20 years from now? What about 50
years from now? What resources will your children fall back on to
exploit, to get the revenue from? So always always take this
precautionary message – no rush, don’t rush.

I’m not supporting land mine either, but there’s already enough land
mines going on in Papua New Guinea, so why do they want to go into
deep sea mining when they’re already making money from land mine?
That’s my concern here. Not do this presentation [?7.41] so that
there’s going to be small impact, small footprints in terms of deep
sea mining, but this is theory – it has not been proven. There has
never been a deep sea mining occurring in anywhere in the world from
that depth – 5000 metres deep. So theory is one thing, but actually
doing it and experiencing the impact of that is another thing, so I’m
not going to buy into what Nautilus has said. Cos like all miners,
they have to come up with something to convince the government of the
day to give them the licence to mine the Solwara. So at this stage we’d
rather say that, let them go and do it in Canada first, or let them go
and do it in US or elsewhere, but not in Papua New Guinea. We have to
be cautious. Okay, that technique, that technology may be proven to be
the best and the safest, but it has never been proven. You cannot go
to one library and pick up the document and read it and say, oh these
are the impacts from deep sea mining and these are the risks so these
are the mitigating steps – no, there’s none. So I’m not going to buy
easily to what the presentation of Nautilus is or the other miners in
this forum.

We want to give credit to Web 2.0  Web 2.0 tools has widened the
opportunity for telephone conferencing, getting the information across
to the broader audience, particularly the millennial the teenagers,
the college students, the university students, the academia, who have
access to this and then you have the mobile – you can tweet and then
someone in the rural area in Papua New Guinea can easily get the
message. Oh just yesterday I received a telephone from Karkum Village
– telephone call to Digicel, so you don’t have to change your sim
card, you can still maintain your same sim card and roam the Pacific
region and still communicate with your parents in the village. So
that’s the advantage of the communication system, the Web 2.0 tool
that has enabled us to link up with each other and enabled us to
communicate on these issues, and enabled us to amplify our voices to
our broader audience and reach our target audience, key stakeholders,
to make the impact and to achieve the difference that we want to
achieve. So in a sense I would say that it’s good we use all
communication tools, not just the traditional print media or
television, because these other Web 2.0 tools are very powerful and
we’ve managed to use it and we’ve seen the impact of it. So it’s good.

I have a project in Madang and I am also from Bagabag Island. My
genealogy goes back to four different islands of Madang province:
Manam Island, Karkar Island, Bagabag Island and the coastal village of
Riwo And my parents probably their genealogy extends, so I don’t know
all the roots. So if I speak, I speak for my people who said NO to
mine the resources, the marine resources. I speak first and foremost
for my own family, my immediate family, my clans people, my tribal
people, my Island people. Then I speak for the people that I work for
and work with. And then I speak for and on behalf of the people of the
Bismarck Solomon Seas where I’m mandated to represent them in this
forum through that group that we’ve established and who nominated me
to come here. So I don’t represent myself in this workshop, I
represent a broader audience and the indigenous, the first people of
Papua New Guinea.

I realise that is very very important, because without a civil
society, you won’t get the other side of the coin. Because you see the
government [Indistinct 11.50] – I don’t see them asking challenging
questions. They’re just sitting down there, very passive, ‘yes’, they
are nodding with the companies. So there’s really no voice for the
people in the village, because the government is sitting on the middle
bench, trying to win the companies, and at the same time trying to
represent the civil society. So you can’t address some of those
particular issues if you don’t have the civil society rep in these
type of workshops or even in negotiating table. You must have the
civil society reps as well, and your reps, and then you must have
resource owners. Then you must have the government and the mining
company, and then you have the technocrats who will give you the
technical knowledge and ideas and expert advice on how to deal with
the different issues and steps and approaches in order to actually
establish a contract and go into the mining activity. So I’m glad
SOPAC has invited the civil society reps to participate in this
meeting, because I can see that most of the questions are coming from
the civil society reps, and this is the healthy part of this type of
workshop. Because if you just keep everything to yourself and at the
end of the day you go back home and then you don’t address those
issues, then who is going to suffer? You are going to be the one
suffering.

You need to make a fair representation of your people in this type of
workshops. So I think it’s healthy for all stakeholders to come to
this type of workshop, particularly from the civil society, from the
NGOs, because we work directly with the people at the grassroot level
and daily we hear their problems, hear their concerns. And they don’t
have a voice. So we are their voices, and I’m glad I’m here and I’m
able to ask some very critical questions. Some questions that I’ve
asked most probably didn’t go down well to the hearts and minds of
some stakeholders, but I’m glad I raised it, and the last question I
raised to the government representatives from Tonga and Fiji, Cook
Islands and Papua New Guinea was, do you have the capital ability to
mitigate risks pertaining to the aftermath of the mining activities of
deep sea mining after the company exit? Or have you incorporated that
cost into the contract so that the mining companies responsible in
extracting minerals, copper, gold, zinc, whatever from your deep sea
mining are going to put some money aside for that to happen, in the
event they wake up and some unforeseeable catastrophe happens. The
delegate from Papua New Guinea said they are reviewing the policy and
the Mining Act to embrace that, but you see, we put the cart before
the mule. We gave the license already to Nautilus and now we’re going
back and reviewing the Mining Act. So there’s some stupid decisions
already being made. Papua New Guinea does not have a seabed mining
law. We just relying on the Mining Act 1992. So there’s some crazy
things going on in Papua New Guinea that I don’t think a sensible
person should accept. Prepare – don’t rush, because haste brings
waste, and we must learn lessons from other countries in the world who
have made hasty decisions and now are suffering.

Africa for that matter, you know they are the most richest country in
the world, but they’re the poorest nation, some of the poorest people
in the entire world - even though they have diamond mines and gold
mines, you name it. And followed by Papua New Guinea – sadly.  Papua
New Guinea, you know they say we are an island of gold floating on
oil, but look at the mortality rate. Literacy rate. The
infrastructure. No way. We are in no way better than Fiji. So these
are lessons that must be learned by our neighboring Pacific Island
countries. You must not make hasty decisions, because mining will not make a big
impact. Even though they say, mining is the bigger contributor of
PNG’s economy, the fact of the matter is that they give us 1 million
kina, they take $200 million US out of the country. That’s why our GDP
is very low. So these lessons must be learned.

I’m glad the rep for Papua New Guinea is saying they’re reviewing the
Mining Act and they will get the Commonwealth Secretariat to raise the
money that we can get from the mining companies. Well do that first!
Make sure that you get the best out of your negotiation! You don’t get
half, or you don’t get less. And that, sadly, has been going on in
Papua New Guinea for the last decades, since independence. So I’m
calling on all the Pacific Island countries to learn lessons from
Papua New Guinea and do not make hasty decisions to just go in and
say, okay, KIOST or Nautilus or Blue Water’s, you come and mine the
deep floor. No, don’t rush. First you must make sure, you must know
what you want, the purpose of you going into that contract agreement.
Exactly what do you want to get? How much benefit do you want your
country to get? You must. Because you know that the mining companies
are here to make profit, and you are there to represent the welfare of
your people, their social needs, their infrastructure needs, their
economic needs. You must think of the future generation as well. If
you reap all the resources now, what do you have left for the future
generations? We are an island country nation. We are not a continent.
So our fallback strategies are our marine resources. Our land
resources are for some reasons very scarce. So you know that your
fallback strategy in terms of your economic resources falls back to
your sustainable resource, which is fishery. So what if deep sea
mining, you don’t think of it, happens to – say [?] [Indistinct 18.18]
the fish stop [?] through the sound of the machines breaking the gold
and the rocks underneath the sea. I raised that up in the workshop.

The issue is, don’t rush. Don’t rush. Even if Nautilus is the best
company - according to their presentation, they claim to say that they
did all the right things, they followed the right processes, their
activity will not affect the environment, the marine resources – I
will say there, don’t rush. Prevention is better than cure, so let’s
not make any hasty decisions here. Let Nautilus go and mine the floors
of Canada first. If they boast of having the best technology in the
world, why don’t they go to Canada and mine their own sea floors
first, and prove to us that it’s safe, it’s friendly, and it’s not
damaging to the environment – then I will say that okay, they’re
proven to have done it in Canada and it’s worked, it’s healthy, it’s
safe and friendly. Okay, why not come back. We don’t want them to use
us as their guinea pigs. We are not their test ground. Because there’s
never been any deep sea mining activity done anywhere else in the
world. So what proof can I rely on? The whole, the nice presentation
from Nautilus. I will not buy in to their presentation. I am a little
bit like Thomas [?19.49] here. And it’s good. It’s good for the people
of Papua New Guinea and for the rest of the Pacific Island countries.
Because the resources are there. We are glad they tell us that we’ve
got so much gold and silver and all this and that they can extract from
the small area like two soccer field, compared to a vast land on the
land. Well, that’s good. That’s what we want to know. But no rush. We
can give our time to our children to go to the best universities and
get the best knowledge on mining, engineering, and geology and all the
technical expertise that we needed. Then let our children go into it.

STARTS 20.38 I want to thank SOPAC for taking the lead in mobilizing
all the stakeholders to come. I think this is the first time that
something like this, a workshop like this, was organized for all
stakeholders: the government representatives, miners, and the civil
society to come and learn the skills of negotiation, and developing
contract that is appealing to all parties in order to get a favorable
benefit. And we’re not just talking on negotiation, benefit sharing –
we’re learning so many other things. We’re learning about what the
miners are doing and the different types of technologies that they’ve
invented to go into deep floor mining, and how they want to mitigate
all those risks. I cannot be just saying that they’re not doing a good
job – no, they are doing a great job. They are doing a lot of studies.
They’re trying their very best to avoid environmental impact to the
environment. ENDS 21.39

So credit must also be given to the miners, but here I’m saying that
we must not make hasty decisions. Prevention is better than cure and I
will say that miners must go back to their own land, mine their sea
resources, prove to us that it’s safe in their own country – then
we’ll buy into a new technology that they’re inventing and boasting to
be the best in the world. No rush. We are not on life support. In
Papua New Guinea we can eat our fish, we can eat our taro and we can
still survive. So that’s my message to all the Pacific Island
countries – don’t rush. If you rush and 10 years from now, and 50
years from now, if you deplete all your resources, you don’t have any
resources to fall back on, then your ancestors will point at you and
say, “Our forefathers did not make wise decision for us.” Remember
the Indian proverb: ‘We are only borrowing from our children.’ So
likewise we must give to our future generation what they truly
deserve, which is a pristine environment: safe, friendly and healthy
for a prosperous nation, prosperous people.

Interview ENDS:22.55

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