Scrap Metal

28 10 2011

Scrap metals

Post Courier


IT would not be long before all the scrap metals at the former Panguna mine in Central Bougainville will be removed and transported out from the area to the Loloho wharf for shipment to overseas buyers. Every day, trucks carrying scrap metals could be seen driving up and down the Panguna mountain. Pictured is a truck owned by one of the scrap metal companies transporting a ball mill up the Panguna mountain. The ball mill is a machine that was used to crush ore during the operations of the mine. Words and picture:




27 10 2011

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October 2011 Timely move to make miners more responsible for damage they cause Andrew Hewett October 28, 2011

Poor countries can expect greater control of mining companies. THERE is no doubt that mining can stimulate economic growth and bring prosperity. But without a commitment to human rights and sustainability, and without regulation, transparency and accountability, it can also cause people to lose their land and way of life, while irreparably damaging the environment.

With two-thirds of the world’s poorest people living in resource-rich countries, too often the extraction of those resources contributes to poverty, corruption and conflict. Australian mining companies have become embroiled in damaging behaviour far from our shores and attention.

This week at CHOGM, the federal government announced initiatives aimed at ensuring the mining sector is better able to contribute to community and social development, and the responsible management of taxes and royalties paid by mining companies to governments, in Australia and overseas.

These initiatives should provide some comfort to communities in poor countries, such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia and many African nations – where Australian companies operate – as they struggle to get a fair share of their resource wealth, get access to essential services and protect their land and livelihoods.

The government’s Mining for Development Initiative brings greater attention to mining governance and opportunities for government, companies and communities to work together on issues..

The International Mining for Development Centre, for example, aims to build capacity in governance and regulation, community and environmental sustainability and operational effectiveness and safety. The involvement of the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland should ensure a focus on mining’s social impact.

A focus on the social impact of mining is vital. One of the worst examples of how things go wrong is the case of former Australian company Anvil Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is alleged that the company, by providing logistical help, played a role in human rights abuses, including the massacre by the Congolese military of more than 70 people in 2004.

We have long needed greater assurances that Australian mining companies are adequately meeting their responsibilities in the developing countries in which many of them operate. The government’s emphasis on engaging with communities, promoting transparency, supporting partnerships, and building skills and knowledge in support of international best practice, announced just this week, is spot-on.

For example, the Community and Social Development Program will help ensure a stronger focus on social and environmental responsibility in developing countries, and encourage the benefits of mining to be shard more equitably.

It will help citizens hold mining companies and governments to account for promises made and could help guard against some of the negative effects of mining.

On top of this, a focus on revenue transparency is long overdue. The government yesterday announced the establishment of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative pilot – a global standard for managing revenue from natural resources that requires companies to publish what they pay in taxes, royalties and other payments to governments, and for governments to publish what they receive.

Implementing the EITI here will support global commitments to fight bribery and corruption, and will send a positive signal to other resource-rich, but often regulatory poor, countries. Here, it will allow Australians to access information on the value of our natural resources. The more those affected by mining, such as indigenous communities, know about payments made to governments, the greater the likelihood they can negotiate equitable benefit-sharing agreements.

These initiatives have come at a crucial time, as soaring commodity prices contribute to record profits and fuel an increased appetite for risk and business in emerging economies and weak governance zones.

Relying on companies to do the right thing is not enough. These initiatives will send a positive international signal, should improve business practice and enable communities and governments in developing countries to participate in development decisions that affect them.

Andrew Hewett is executive director of Oxfam Australia. Read more:

US Appeal Court revives Bougainville challenge against Rio Tinto

27 10 2011

Updated October 27, 2011 09:19:53

A lawsuit filed by Bougainville residents against mining company, Rio Tinto is set to be revived.

A U-S federal Appeals Court has reversed a decision to throw out the lawsuit which alleges the mining company aided the PNG government in genocide and war crimes.

The lawsuit was filed in 2002, 13-years after the mining company’s activities prompted a civil war in Bougainville.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts
Speaker:Steve Berman, attorney for the Bougainville land owners

BERMAN: Well the ninth-circuit court of appeals agreed that the case could go forward allegedly that Rio Tinto was involved in the commission of war crimes and genocide, which are two international law recognised claims that are universal to all countries.

COUTTS: Well what will you be asking for in this suit?

BERMAN: We’re going to be asking for compensation to the ten-thousand or more people who are injured or killed during the uprising.

COUTTS: How many people does that involve, how many people are you actually representing?

BERMAN: Well it’s a proposed class action in the United States and in a class action you only need to name a few, the idea is you don’t want to bog the courts down with thousands of claims at once. So you have a few people represent the interests of class and the class in this case we think is about ten to 14-thousand people.

COUTTS: Will you be getting testimony, because these are serious charges, genocide and all the other charges you’ve just listed, will you be getting personal testimony to back that up?

BERMAN: Yes we already have some, we have affidavits from the former commander in chief and from a former prime minister that they were directed by Rio Tinto to take whatever steps were necessary, including violence and killing, to re-open the mine and they gave some details on that. But now we’re going to go and start getting the records and show in our view that Rio Tinto financed the helicopters and troop carriers and communications devices, and the means that the government used to try to suppress the uprising.

COUTTS: And it also includes racial discimination and crimes against humanity all lumped in together?

BERMAN: Well the court dismissed the racial discrimination and crimes against humanity claims, but the racial discimination claims kind of still falls within the genocide claims, so there’s not really a loss there.

COUTTS: Can you just explain the point of that particular aspect of the case?

BERMAN: Well the court found that racial discrimination under American law, the alien torch statute, someone can sue for a violation of international law, and the Supreme Court recently said those violations have to be laws that every nation, every civilised nation recognises. And believe it or not the court found that not all civilised nations recognise racial discrimination as a violation of the law. So they threw out the racial discrimination claim, on the other hand they said we did allege enough to suggest that the mining company looked at the Bougainvilleans as a separate people who they had no compunction or were not worried about polluting their environment, ruining their lifestyle, ruining their property and physically maiming them, and that was enough to state a claim.

COUTTS: And some dissenting judges have protested against allowing a lawsuit to proceed in the federal courts brought by non-US residents against a non-US company. That is an interesting point?

BERMAN: Well the mining company raised an issue as had other corporations that have been sued under this law that says the US should not be adjudicating claims against foreign companies where the acts take place for example, in this case they took place in Bougainville. But other courts, and the majority in this case said statute speaks very broadly and if you can get jurisdiction over the defendant, in this case Rio in the United States, then you’re entitled to bring the case here. And the historical notion we believe that underlies the law dates all the way back to piracy where a court, in that case piracy, which is what the act was passed to in part address, the idea was that someone commits a tort anywhere in the world, piracy is a universally condemned tort, if you catch that person in the United States you can sue them for that even if it occurred somewhere else, and that’s what’s happening here. And Rio Tinto has a huge presence in the United States, over 47 per cent of their assets or revenues are derived from North America, so the court found we had jurisdiction over them here and that’s why we’re sueing them in the United States.

COUTTS: And is part of the claim too, because there’s been talk of mining beginning again in Bougainville, are you taking any action against that happening?

BERMAN: We’re not, that’s not part of the case. But I’m told by my clients that Rio is trying to re-open the mine and there’s a pretty strong viewpoint, many people in the Bougainville area that Rio cannot and should not be permitted to re-open the mine until they address and redress the wrongdoing that they committed years ago.

COUTTS: I.E. this court case?

BERMAN: Right, I mean the mine is hugely valuable, copper prices have gone up and it’s a scarce resource and it was the world’s largest copper mine, still a lot of copper out there, it’s a valuable asset and they want it, but I don’t think they’re going to get it unless they remedy the wrongs that they’ve committed.

COUTTS: When do you think you’ll get this case before the courts?

BERMAN: Well now we’re going to go back down to the trial court and ask for discovery taking their testimony to proceed, I suspect that Rio’s going to ask the US Supreme Court to hear this case.

On a mission to turn tables around

27 10 2011

BOUGAINVILLEANS, specifically the missionaries are on a mission to turn tables around and start going abroad to help the needy.
Last month the Christian Mission Fellowship –Bougainville made a request to all Pacific Island nations to come to Bougainville and help raise funds to send 20 missionaries to remote Solomon Islands, Indonesia and Milne Bay – three locations identified which are under the poverty line.
CMF elite from Fiji, Solomon Islands and in PNG, the New Guinea Islands, Southern Region, the Highlands Region and Bougainville came together and last weekend at the Wakunai Bible College held a fundraiser which earned about K100,000.
Regional MP for Bougainville Fidelis Semoso gave more than K45,0000 towards the mission of which K43,000 allocated from his discretionary funds and about K2000 from his family and businesses.
Fiji CMF team told the Post- Courier it was time to turn tables and instead of being seen all the time as the third world nations or always on the receiving end from the first world nations – it was now time to give back a hand to the needy.
Mr Semoso who commended the church organisers for a job well done, also presented K1500 to the Solomon Island team and hosted the Fiji team in Buka. He gave an ear bashing to the church elders and appealed to them to successfully carry out their mission.
Pastors in charge said in Wakunai that the money raised was to send a group of 20 young and old men and women as missionaries to go and help a very remote village in Western Province of Solomon Islands. This village in the Solomons is up in the mountains, and has been neglected by the SI Government and through the CMF Solomons, help is now underway.


B’ville’s case may proceed in US

27 10 2011

BOUGAINVILLEANS being represented in a class action case in California, the United States of America, have won a major victory on Tuesday this week when an appeals court ruled that their case may proceed in US courts. 
Brent Walton of Hagens Berman told the Post-Courier from the United States that “unless the US Supreme Court steps in and stops the case, Bougainvilleans will get their day in court in the USA. That is the upshot of the whole opinion.”
The Bougainvilleans who allege mining company Rio Tinto (RIO) worked with the Papua New Guinea Government to destroy their culture and commit genocide, took the mining giant to court and since 2000, it has been on-going in the US.
Last year the case was dismissed and the lawyers representing the Bougainvilleans appealed against the decision. 
On Tuesday this week the lawyers representing the landowners won a major victory when the court ruled in their favour allowing the case to proceed in U.S. courts. 
The Bougainvilleans include Alexis Sarei, Paul Nearu, Thomas Tamausi, Aloysius Moses, Raphael Niniku, Gabriel Tareasi, Linus Takinu, Leo Wuis, Michael Akope, Benedict Pisi, Thomas Kobuko, John Tamuasi, Norman Mouvo, John Osani, Ben Korus, Namira Kawona, Joan Bosco, John and Magdalene Pigolo.
Hagens Berman has represented the residents of Bougainville, since the late 1990s. 
Rio Tinto operated a mine on the island. After an uprising by the residents of Bougainville forced Rio to close the mine, the company allegedly provided transportation for PNG troops who were brought in to reopen it. 
When these tactics failed, the PNG government instituted a military blockade, which the plaintiffs allege lasted 10 years and led to the deaths of nearly 10,000 people. 
In a statement from the managing partner for Hagens Berman and attorney for the residents of Bougainville Steve Berman could not wait to commend his team for the case decision.
“We are obviously very pleased with the ruling today by the Court of Appeals,” said Berman. This has been a marathon of a case, and Rio Tinto has been using every tool available to delay answering for their actions.”
The residents of Bougainville allege that Rio Tinto’s mining operations on the island resulted in the dumping of billions of tons of toxic waste, heavily polluting previously pristine waters. 
According to the lawsuit, this resulted in the exposure of dangerous chemicals to local residents, dispossessing them of their ancestral lands and destroying their culture.
The case was originally filed on September 18, 2000. 
The case was sent to the Court of Appeals when Rio Tinto questioned the District Court’s ruling that the plaintiffs were entitled to pursue claims of war crimes and genocide in U.S. courts without exhausting legal options in PNG first. 
By a vote of seven-to-four, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s ruling.
The court also ruled that the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) does not preclude the charging of corporate defendants for genocide and war crimes. 
Rio Tinto had claimed that only individuals could be charged under the statute.
“Rio has already delayed this case for over a decade, and many of its victims have passed on,” said Steve Berman. “We look forward to taking this case back to the District Court and holding Rio responsible for its actions.”


Setbacks highlighted

26 10 2011


The National, 26th October 2011

A SURVEY by the National Research Institute reveals that infrastructure on Bougainville cannot cope with the economic activity taking place in the autonomous region.
NRI director Dr Thomas Webster had urged the government to address the problem and place emphasis on infrastructures such as roads and banking facilities in the region.
“A survey of households in urban Bougainville leaves us with a message for our government that there is tremendous economic activity taking
place in the province but infrastructures like roads and banking systems cannot cater for it,” Webster said.
“The initial survey data provides evidence of an economic recovery in post-conflict Bougainville.
“It is the first evidence of economic recovery following the window of peace provided through an internationally-sponsored peace-keeping operation that ended the decade-long conflict.”
Head of the survey Dr Charles Yala said more economic activity would lead to peace being fully attained in the region.
“With such a boom in economic activity, we need to get the locals involved in cocoa production, build permanent houses and do other worthwhile things.”

U.S. court revives human rights case versus Rio Tinto

25 10 2011




Jonathan Stempel | Reuters – 1 hour 0 minutes ago


(Reuters) – A U.S. federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit seeking to hold Rio

Tinto Plc responsible for human rights violations and thousands of deaths linked to

a Papua New Guinea copper and gold mine it once ran.


A divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed a lower

court’s dismissal of claims against the mining giant for genocide and war crimes,

while upholding the dismissal of claims for racial discrimination and crimes against



“The complaint alleges purposeful conduct undertaken by Rio Tinto with the intent to

assist in the commission of violence, injury, and death, to the degree necessary to

keep its mines open,” Judge Mary Schroeder wrote.


Some dissenting judges protested against allowing a lawsuit to proceed in federal

courts brought by non-U.S. residents against a non-U.S. companies such as Rio Tinto,

which has corporate offices in London and in Melbourne, Australia.


The 6-5 decision on Tuesday revives an 11-year-old lawsuit on behalf of about 10,000

current and former residents of the South Pacific island Bougainville, where a late

1980s uprising led to the use of military force and many deaths.


Tony Shaffer, a Rio Tinto spokesman, said, “We intend to defend ourselves vigorously

against these improper claims.”


Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest mining companies, with a market value

exceeding US$100 billion, Reuters data show.


The case is one of several in which non-U.S. residents seek to hold companies

responsible in U.S. courts for alleged human rights violations on foreign soil,

under a 1789 U.S. law known as the Alien Tort Statute.


Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider in its current term the reach

of that statute, in a lawsuit accusing Royal Dutch Shell Plc of helping Nigeria

violently suppress protests in the 1990s.


A federal appeals court in New York had ruled that Shell was not liable under the

statute. It is unclear how the pendency of that case will affect the Rio Tinto



Steve Berman, a lawyer for the Rio Tinto plaintiffs, said: “My clients believe Rio

has been covering up its complicity in war crimes and genocide. We’re pleased to be

able to return to the district court and begin proving our case.”




The Bougainville residents claimed that Rio Tinto’s Panguna mine operations polluted

the island and that the company forced native workers to live in “slave like”



They also contended that after workers began to sabotage the mine in 1988, Rio Tinto

goaded the government into exacting retribution and conspired to impose a blockade

that resulted in the deaths of some 10,000 civilians by 1997.


Rio Tinto shut the mine in 1989.


Writing for the 9th Circuit, Schroeder said the complaint’s allegation that Rio

Tinto’s “worldwide modus operandi” was to treat indigenous non-Caucasians as

“expendable” justified restoring the genocide claim to the case.


She also said the allegation that Rio Tinto acted for its own private ends in

inducing Papua New Guinea’s military to murder civilians justified restoring the war

crimes claim.


The appeals court returned the case to U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow in Los

Angeles for further proceedings.


In a dissent, Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote that the Alien Tort Statute gave the court no

authority to hear a case between the non-U.S. plaintiffs and Rio Tinto over non-U.S.



“The majority sees fit to brush past these limitations and give itself unlimited

authority to adjudicate suits between aliens for torts arising anywhere in the

world,” she wrote.


Another dissenting judge, Andrew Kleinfeld, wrote: “This case calls for judicial

humility. Instead, we arrogate to ourselves imperial authority over the whole



Berman is a partner at Hagens Berman in Seattle. Rio Tinto’s defence has been

handled by O’Melveny & Myers and, until recently, been overseen by Sri Srinivasan, a

partner who in August was appointed deputy U.S. solicitor general.


The case is Sarei et al v. Rio Tinto Plc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,

No. 02-56256.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; additional reporting by Dan Levine in

San Francisco; editing by Dave Zimmerman and Andre Grenon)