Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pruaitch: Government monitoring world commodities markets

Office of the Minister for Treasury

Minister for Treasury, Patrick Pruaitch, in response to the Opposition Leader’s claims in the Post-Courier front-page report yesterday about falling commodity prices, re-assures the country that the Government is fully aware of the current developments in the world commodities markets and is closely monitoring the movements in prices.
“As a responsible Government, the O’Neill-Dion Government is monitoring the developments very closely and is fully aware of the implications the falls in prices will have on the economy particularly on Government revenues,” the Treasurer said in a statement.
“The Government , however,  believes that it is too early to be making any adjustments to the 2015 Budget for now.
“At this stage, there is no need to panic.
"The Government is fully aware of the situation and is looking ahead at the options available should the need to adjust arise.”
Pruaitch assured the people of Papua New Guinea that the Government would take all the necessary measures to ensure that the adverse movements in the revenue outlook were contained and that the 2015 Budget remained on track for the stated fiscal targets.
“Whilst the oil prices have fallen by 36.6% since the 2015 Budget, copper and gold prices remain on track. 
"They have only declined by 6.1 and 7.2% respectively since the 2015 Budget, contrary to the 40% price decline as claimed by the opposition leader.
“For the LNG exports, whilst world LNG prices depend and trend closely to the world oil prices, much of the PNG LNG exports and prices is locked in the long term forwards sales contracts.”
Pruaitch whilst he had been unwilling to respond to Opposition Leader directly, "these are other recent statements in the Press recently that are utterly irresponsible. 
"Now is the time for cooperation to give Papua New Guineans the true facts and not political point scoring."
He said the Opposition Leader's statements were extremely consistent with the former head of the Australian advisory team during Polye’s tenure in Vulupindi Haus. 
"In some instances,  it is difficult to work out whether these thoughts are Polye’s or those of this advisor,  which is receiving a lot of air time in the mainstream and social media," Pruaitch said.
 “For my department, we are well aware of the scenario and will take the necessary measures to ensure that external impacts are mitigated as much as possible.
“Developments in the world economy is something that is beyond everybody’s control and it is times like this when responsible Government’s will need to be proactive and have contingencies in place to be able to effectively deal with such circumstances.
"This is what the O’Neill –Dion Government is doing and is asking everyone to be patient and to refrain from making claims that could drive public perception – remember perception drives fear more so than facts.
“Finally let me re-assure the nation that, the Government understands the implications of the recent sharp movements in commodity prices particularly oil and will be monitoring it closely as we head into Christmas and the New Year.”

Marape: No need to panic

Office of the Minister for Finance

The Government is confident the 2015 Budget assumptions are safe despite the fall in the price of oil.Finance Minister James Marape said this yesterday, despite the "doom and gloom predictions of an Opposition Leader (Don Polye) determined to talk down a growing economy"
“While we welcome the advice proposed by the Opposition, this needs to be based on fact instead of drivel,” Marape said.
“There is no cause for alarm and this is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction, as proposed by the Opposition.
“A number of factors have contributed to the current market, with the oil price trending downwards. In less than two months the global oil price slumped about 35%. It may take the same period, if not less, for the price to climb back up and beyond.
“You do not have to be a former Treasurer to understand that this is how a market works. 
"Even high school students know that markets fluctuate, so I think the former Treasurer could be more considered in what he says.
“As a responsible government, we are watching these trends very closely.
"We are not about to over-react, nor should anyone else.
“The factors causing these price swings are beyond our control.
"All we can do is closely and carefully monitor the situation, and act to protect our interest when the time to review our budget comes around.
"That time is June next year when Treasury releases a review of the Budget."
 Marape said forecast for the revenue from the PNG LNG project remained on track because the sale price was locked into long-term contract agreements signed with the customers.
He also said the Central Bank’s decision to intervene in the currency market was a decision that the government welcomed.
“The buy and sell margins were too wide, and the commercial banks were sitting back and making money at the foreign exchange market, at the expense of our people and visitors, so the Central Bank intervention is timely and one we fully support," Marape said.
“The kina exchange rate against its major trading currencies remains stable around levels very attractive to exporters.
"Members (MPs) should be back in the villages using their district funds to help people get their coffee, copra and cocoa and other export crops to the market.
“Members (MPs) should not be holed up in hotels in Port Moresby listening to prophets of doom who preach nothing but negative politics.
"It’s the festive period and we must be with our people to celebrate Christmas.”

Sunday, December 21, 2014

PM O’Neill opens Simbai to Madang Road

Office of the Prime Minister

The National Government has completed another significant road infrastructure project with the delivery of the road linking the people of Simbai in the Middle Ramu district of Madang Province through to Madang.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill launched the Simbai to Madang road when he visited Apenam village in Madang  last week.
Speaking with people who will now use the road,  O’Neill urged them to make good use of the infrastructure to improve lives in their community.
“I hope you use this road to do business and carry goods, to find more work, go to healthcare centres and visit your family.
“You government is behind the people in rural areas and will continue to build our road network.
“We have made a commitment to build infrastructure that improves the lives of people all around the country, from the cities and towns to the most rural villages.”
The Prime Minister said economic growth creates opportunity for businesses and he urged the people to work together to make bigger changes for their communities.
“Roads are a link for economic development by allowing for the easy flow of goods and services such as healthcare, education and other vital services to reach majority of the people in rural areas,” said the PM.
O’Neill reiterated that more funds have been put into rural areas by the government and he wants to see this work to continue to improve the livelihoods of the people.
“We have been investing heavily in infrastructure as it is one of our core priorities and already we have seen many changes in all our road networks in many rural areas through to our cities,” said O’Neill.
The PM has promised the people that he would send works engineers to carry out a study on the Ramu River and a bridge would be built. In the meantime, a pontoon would be in place to move vehicles across the river.
 O’Neill also went to Simbai late in the afternoon to officially open new classrooms in the presence of thousands of local people.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mining starts at Crater Mountain, Eastern Highlands

Published: Friday, 19 December 2014 16:15
Written by ASIA Miner News 

Crater Gold Mining has commenced gold mining at its High Grade Zone (HGZ) project at Crater Mountain in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands Province.
The HGZ mine becomes the first new gold mine in PNG for eight years.
Following the signing of the Mining Lease by the Minister for Mines Byron Chan on November 5, 2014 the company has successfully concluded a compensation agreement with the landowners and formally registered it with the Mineral Resources Authority of PNG.
Crater Mountain is 50km southwest of Goroka.
Formerly a tier-1 BHP asset, there has been in excess of 14,500 metres of diamond drilling to date, the majority focused on the Nevera prospect, which hosts the HGZ mine.
Crater Gold’s CEO Greg Starr says, “This is an exciting milestone for the company as we have successfully transitioned from explorer to now become PNG’s newest gold producer.
“We anticipate producing some 10,000 ounces of gold in the year ahead at an all-in cash cost of below $400 per ounce average over the Mining Lease term, positioning the mine within the lowest quartile in terms of operating costs.
"Our Mining Lease enables us to continue mining for the next five years with the right to extend the Mining Lease.
“As a high margin operation, the HGZ project will generate strong cash flows, which will fund further development at the HGZ mine and exploration activities at the company’s other assets.
“On behalf of the Board I thank all those who have assisted us in bringing HGZ into production, particularly our management team and dedicated local staff.”

* The January/February edition of The ASIA Miner will include a feature article on Crater Gold and its work in PNG.

O’Neill: Offer thoughts and prayers following tragic recent events

Office of the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has asked Papua New Guineans to offer their thoughts and prayers for the families involved in recent tragic events, and to embrace their own family and friends and give thanks for their communities.
O’Neill said this is the time of the year that should be filled with joy as communities prepare to celebrate Christmas and welcome the New Year, but recent weeks have seen tragedy.
“The death in Australia of eight children from the Torres Strait this week, the massacre of more than 100 children in Pakistan, the murder of hostages in Sydney, and the deaths of Papua New Guinean police officers have marked a sad time as we prepare for Christmas.
“What should be a time of happiness has been filled with grief and outrage and as a community we need to pull together, pray and reflect on the positives things in our lives.
“As we prepare for Christmas this weekend, in your homes and in your churches, I ask Papua New Guineans to do two things.  I ask you to pray for the families of people lost to these recent incidents, and I ask you to embrace those who are close to you and to give thanks for all we have that is good.
“Give thanks for your family and friends, give thanks for your community and give thanks for this blessed country in which we live.
“We have a lot to be grateful for and Christmas is a time to offer thanks and gratitude.”
O'Neill said the death of eight children from the Torres Strait had shocked the world and he has offered his condolences on behalf of PNG.
“Our nation grieves with people in Cairns and around Australia at the senseless loss of eight young lives.  May their young souls find eternal peace.
“Sadly, this is the third time this week our nation has extended condolences for a horrific event.
“These terrible occurrences cannot be reversed, but we can unite in grief and all do our best to build a brighter future.
“Lets look after each other, and look after our communities.”

Papua New Guinea’s vanishing LNG export boom

By on December 20, 2014


PNG must adjust to lower LNG/oil prices to avoid a crisis. The PNG LNG project is still extremely important but many of the benefits of the production phase of the project have vanished because of lower prices – probably for at least a decade. This note outlines the impact of the recent oil price falls on PNG’s budget, growth rates, and balance of payments and international reserves. The broad conclusions are that: there will be no tax revenue from the PNG LNG project for many years; deficit and debt levels will become even more unsustainable; the 2015 growth rate will more than halve; the balance of payments will be in overall deficit even with the PNG LNG project coming to full capacity in 2016; and, without an exchange rate depreciation, PNG’s international reserves will be exhausted in two years.
A policy brief is available which provides the technical detail of this analysis. The key findings and policy recommendations are set out below.
LNG and oil prices
Figure 1 shows that oil prices are now more than 30% lower than the level forecast in last month’s 2015 PNG budget. LNG prices are directly linked to oil prices according to the IMF so the reduction in LNG prices will be similar. This price drop in a key commodity (LNG/oil) is a classic example of what economists call an “external shock”.
Figure 1: Oil prices – market prices, futures and PNG forecastsoil3
Note: Author’s calculations for all graphs and figures available here.
Budgetary impact
The analysis of the policy brief predicts that with a 30% fall in LNG/oil prices there will be no taxes collected from the PNG LNG project for up to a decade. This is because a fall in gross revenues of 30% is greater than the expected pre-tax profit rate (after allowing for depreciation). LNG dividends are still expected but at a much lower level. Revenues from current petroleum fields such as Kutubu will also be much lower.
The net impact on the budget is a loss relative to the 2015 budget of about K1,400 million in revenue in 2015 and 2016 and above a billion in future years. This represents more than 10% of all PNG’s domestic revenue resources. In addition, there are off-budget impacts that will substantially reduce the net wealth of the PNG government. This includes a fall in the value of Oil Search shares (now estimated to be worth K600 million less than at the time of purchase) as well as a significant portion of the K3.3 billion in LNG dividends and mineral/petroleum taxes that “disappeared” in the 2015 budget, presumably earmarked for various off-budget expenditures, such as paying back the Oil Search loan.
As shown in Figure 2, resource revenues to the PNG budget have traditionally been volatile. The 2014 budget painted a rosy picture of expected revenues from the LNG project. By the 2015 budget, a significant part of these returns, especially LNG dividends, were moved off-budget (presumably held in the proposed Kumul Holdings). As noted above, these funds amounted to K3.3 billion between 2016 and 2018. The bottom line on the right is the estimate of resource revenues to the PNG budget given a 30% fall in LNG/oil prices. These revenues return to the levels of the late 1990s and early 2000s when PNG faced another major drop in commodity prices. At an aggregate level (including all PNG’s tax and non-tax revenues), 2016 revenues drop to K10.9 billion in nominal terms, K2.5 billion less than the K13.4 billion expected only thirteen months ago at the time of the 2014 budget. This is a very large fiscal hit of just under 20%.
Figure 2: Resource revenues over timeresource revenues
The direct result of these revenue losses is that there will be no revenue growth after inflation from 2014 to 2018. Without policy action, the deficit in 2015 will be not 5.3% as per the budget (using IMF guidelines, as explained here), but 8.8%. The debt to GDP ratio will stay about the legal cap of 30% and, on realistic expenditure assumptions, may rise to 75% by 2017 – two and half times the maximum level in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
GDP growth impact
The change in the value of PNG’s major new export inevitably also affects the measured size of the economy or GDP. The revised LNG and oil price estimates reduce growth forecasts to 7.0% in 2014 and 6.9% in 2015 (down from 8.4% and 15.5% respectively). The PNG LNG project is extremely important for PNG. However, its importance has been diminished by the new commodity price outlook.
Impact on balance of payments and international reserves
The forecast in the IMF’s 2014 PNG report is for an increase in PNG’s net international reserves from $US2,427 million in 2014 to $US3,845 million by 2016. But allowing for the fall in oil and LNG prices, net international reserves are in fact expected to fall to $US2,049 million in 2015, covering just over three months of imports of goods and services. Reserves would keep falling below this critical level and PNG would be out of foreign exchange by early 2017. This is because the fall in prices moves PNG to a substantial balance of payments deficit (not the surplus that was originally forecast). Clearly, given the need to have some level of import cover, something has to happen soon. Otherwise, PNG will be going to the IMF or another country seeking a large bail out.
Figure 3: Impact of oil price shock on net international reserves
Figure 3

The PNG LNG project has often been thought of as transformative for PNG. But just at the time the country was to benefit from the revenue and foreign exchange flows from this major project, international markets have dealt a cruel blow. The decline in LNG prices also significantly reduces the viability of other LNG projects in the pipeline. With good policies, adjustments could be made to deal with such a drop in oil prices. However, PNG has moved to poor policies over the last six months such as moving away from a market based exchange rate, starting to print money to fund the deficit, and continuing with an unsustainable fiscal policy in the 2015 budget. PNG had set itself on a slippery slope towards a crisis, and the world just gave it a great big shove.
But this is a problem that can be solved, provided that real changes are quickly made. At the end of its financial year for 2014, the PNG government should not spend any extra money, but instead pocket any savings from unspent allocations. In face of such a large shock, there is a need for an urgent public debate in PNG on other policy responses. This should cover how the 2015 budget should be rewritten to avoid a spiralling deficit. PNG also needs to move back to a market-based, floating exchange rate to provide a “shock absorber” for the economy, and find better ways to fund the deficit than printing money.
Paul Flanagan is a Visiting Fellow at the Development Policy Centre, ANU. He was formerly a senior executive in the Australian Treasury, and went on secondment as an advisor to the PNG Treasury from 2011 to 2013.

Mining boom no cure for PNG poverty: Kiwi development expert


WELLINGTON, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Papua New Guinea (PNG) is facing a key challenge in transferring its massive mining industry profits into improving the lives of the half of the population living in poverty, the New Zealand author of a United Nations report on the Pacific island nation said Friday.
Mining and oil production had reaped 60 billion U.S. dollars since independence 40 years ago, but 40 percent of PNG's 7 million mostly rural population lived on less than a dollar a day and a quarter of children had no schooling, Glenn Banks, an associate professor in Development Studies at Massey University, said in a statement.
The lead author of the "Papua New Guinea National Human Development Report 2014" for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said PNG was experiencing a "paradox of plenty," with 14 years of economic growth and the economy set to grow by 20 percent next year, but little change in poverty levels and rising inequality.
The report noted improvements in human development, such as increases in life expectancy, per capita income and educational achievement, while highlighting the significant opportunities from an economic boom based on the mining of gold, silver, copper, cobalt, nickel, crude petroleum and natural gas.
While large scale mine and oil production has underpinned some health and education developments, it has also "sparked civil strife, caused massive environmental damage, arguably distorted the economy, and brought about a range of negative impacts on communities," according to the report.
Banks said better governance and public service delivery, as well as more effective, inclusive policies were among policy options that would address the problems.
Appointing a mining ombudsman and an independent grievance mechanism to resolve conflicts of interest between indigenous landowners and mining corporations were also key options.
"We've already had good feedback from within government that they are interested in talking further with UNDP to put into place some of the ideas the report proposes," said Banks.

Miss Samoa crowned Miss Pacific Islands

Radio New Zealand

 Miss Samoa Latafale Auva'a has won the first Miss Pacific Islands Pageant in Apia.
The 20-year-old Law and Music University student from New Zealand also scooped the two main categories for the pageant, best talent and best interview.

Miss Samoa Latafale Auva'a

 Miss Cook Islands, Antonina Browne, was the first runner-up, Miss Fiji, Nanise Rainima, was second runner up, Miss American Samoa, Anneliese Sword was third runner up and Miss Papua New Guinea - Grace Nugi was fourth runner up.

Miss Pacific Islands Pageant participants

 Miss Nauru - Kauai Oppenheimer won the Miss Internet, Miss Fiji won Miss Photogenic, Miss Niue, Nina Nemaia was voted Miss Personality, and Miss American Samoa won the National Tourism Award.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Prime Minister offers national sympathy for Pakistan

Office of the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill  has expressed his indignation at the murder of more than 100 defenseless people in Pakistan this week, noting that all countries in the international community have to work together for a more peaceful global environment.
“It is with heartfelt concern and a sense of deep outrage that Papua New Guinea has received news of the murder of 141 people in Peshawar on 16 December 2014,” Prime Minister O’Neill said in a letter to his counterpart, Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. 
“With the majority of these victims being children, the grief caused by this attack is further exacerbated.
“May I offer deepest sympathies and prayers from the people of Papua New Guinea to the people of Pakistan following this tragic event.”
O’Neill said while the attack in Pakistan and the earlier siege in Sydney were domestic matters for their respective countries, there were global factors and grievances that had fed into both situations.“Our two nations might be separated by distance, but we are joined through a common concern to see the prevention of such acts of senseless violence,” the Prime Minister said in the letter to his counterpart in Pakistan.“Papua New Guinea joins with Pakistan in international forums, including The Commonwealth and the United Nations General Assembly, to work together in developing collective solutions for a safer international community.”
The Prime Minister said all nations have an obligation to make effective use of their membership of international forums to discuss underlying issues that lead to violence, to overcome animosities and improve understanding between people.
“We are blessed in the Pacific that we live in one of the most peaceful regions on the planet.“But we are also part of the global community and we will offer our support in the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other forums, to initiatives that promote peace and understanding between people.”

Prime Minister calls for better protection of police

Office of the Prime Minister

 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill  has called for a review of procedures to better ensure the safety of police undertaking their duty of protecting the community.

O’Neill made the comments following recent attacks on police personnel that have ed to the deaths.

“I am greatly concerned about these instances of violence against our police and I am talking with police leadership about how procedures and processes can be reviewed to better ensure the safety,” he said.
“Although these recent cases appear to have been carried out by individuals, some of hem drug-induced, some under the influence of alcohol, we must stop this from  happening.

“One immediate measure is to issue directives that police do not go out alone, but discharge their duties in pairs.

“That happens in many parts of the world so that individual policemen and women are not going around by themselves in uniform, but are partnered.

“Indeed, policing is a dangerous job in any country, and as a government we must work to ensure the safety of our police as best we can.”

O'Neill called on the public to be grateful for the work of police and to be vigilant for people who might seek to cause harm to police.

“We express our deep sorrow and regret to the families of our brave police that have lost their lives, and been injured, in the course of their duties.

“Our police have dedicated their lives to the protection of the men, women and children of Papua New Guinea and to ensure that our communities are safe.

O'Neill said the Government continued to allocate greater funding each year for better training of Papua New Guinea’s Police with a focus on improving police skills to patrol their communities.

“We need our police walking our streets and markets, and working with members of the community to identify law breakers and bring them before the courts.

“Our community policing skills continue to be upgraded and our government will continue to strengthen capacity in this area.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Commission of Inquiry report on brief out matters presented to National Government by Judge Warwick Andrews

Office of the Prime Minister

 The National Government has received the “Report on the Commission of Inquiry into Processes and Procedures used to Brief Out Matters to Law Firms, and Processes and Procedures for Paying Public Monies to Law Firms” from Judge Warwick Andrew.
In receiving the document today, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill,  said the completion of the report by Judge Andrews and his team would provide clear direction for the Government officials in ensuring transparency and proper process, and save millions of Kina in legal bills.
“This area of brief outs has been the subject of abuse for many years, well before this government came into office,” O’Neill said in receiving the report.
“As a government we have been receiving the raw end of this discussion, mainly because we’re trying to clean up the mess that has been there for a while.
“There are some issues that are still out there for public debate and of course some issues are before the courts.
“But we will present this in the coming session of the Parliament so that we can make sure that we tighten up the procedures in which the brief outs are being made in the future to many law firms that have been acting about half of the state for many years.
“I know that these recommendations will save the state lot of funds and excessive abuse that is being happening for quite some time, and as result of this inquiry we are going to ensure that there are strict guidelines that are going to be established from here onwards.”
Judge Andrews made the following statement before presenting the report to the Government:“The report was the initiative of the Prime Minister.
“Despite previous investigations having been made into the processes and procedures for clients and brief out of legal matters to law firms, and despite several recommendations having been made, the area remains the subject of abuse.
“The focus of this inquiry, under the terms of reference, has been to the reform of the system by way of instituting proper control mechanisms.
“As is well known, the state has made vastly excessive amounts of legal work carried out by private law firms from the past.
“The commission believes and hopes that if its recommendations are implemented there will be appropriate systems in place which will prevent such abuse.
“The commission has been completely independent, there has been no interference with the commission in any way, either political otherwise, by anyone at all.
“Having said that I would now like to present the report to the Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister opens Lae Port Tidal Basin Project

 Office of the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has congratulated stakeholders involved in the work undertaken to complete Phase 1 of the Lae Port (Tidal Basin Project).

He extended his congratulation to the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Co. (PNG) Ltd, the landowners, Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), PNG Ports and all the people who were involved in the project on Wednesday.
O'Neill said Phase 1 of the project was delivered ahead of time and under budget and that cabinet has also approved the start of Phase 2.
He said the opening of Phase 1 of the new port in the Lae Tidal Basin was a very important occasion for the country.
“This is another demonstration of our ability as a country, as a government, as a community and as people to deliver world class infrastructure,” O’Neill said.
“As many of you know, our government has made infrastructure development a priority, and this is another major piece of our national infrastructure that will serve the people of Papua New Guinea.”
O’Neill said the port would benefit not only the people of Morobe, it would also serve people in the Highland provinces who get their goods freighted to the port then up to the highlands by road.
He said landowners of the tidal basin would also benefit through opportunities such as stevedoring as did landowners of the old port, and more broadly thousands of additional jobs would be created.
“When fully operational, this port will create new jobs and related opportunities for over 5,000 people - with projections of this reaching 10,000 as port business increases in the coming years.”
Currently around 55 vessels call into Lae port each month and this will increase substantially with the wharf extension, generating increased revenue through pilotage, wharfage and berthage revenue streams.  This means more larger vessels, heavier machinery and increased throughput to meet the growing economy in the country as well as the Asia/Pacific region.
The trade forecast for the coming year is for the movement of over:

- 130,000 containers for international shipping.
- Over 56,000 domestic containers.
- Break-bulk and Liquid Bulk movement to be over one million revenue tonnes.

Papua New Guinea’s fine cocoa back from the brink of disaster

Updated 17 December 2014, 17:33 AEDT

Australia Plus
Farmers are a tough breed and when the whole community’s livelihood is at stake there’s no such thing as giving up.
The saying about the tough getting going when the going gets tough could have been created with Odelia Virua Taman in mind. 
Cocoa farmer Odelia Virua Taman tells Food Bowl presenters Anath Gopal and Leesa Burton how her community overcame adversity.
The cocoa farmer from Papua New Guinea’s New Britain province summoned her courage and her community to face a threat to the coca crop that put their lifestyle and livelihood in jeopardy.
A moth pest called the Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) was detected in PNG in 2006.  It ripped the heart out of the economy and East New Britain which had been responsible for more than 50 per cent of PNG’s cocoa production.
“It was disaster. Every time I speak about it I remember the pain and suffering. We had banana for breakfast, banana for lunch and banana for dinner. We went through a period of a terrible time,” says Odelia.
But thanks to a community commitment to manage the pest driven by farmers such as Odelia, who is secretary of the Tavilo Farmers Cooperative, the crop is now thriving and known for its quality.
For Odelia the motivation to succeed was clear cut:  “(I hope) for everybody to have a high standard of living. To be able to afford school, education for your children, hospital, bills; to be able to have electricity.  These are basic requirements,” she says.
“You have a goal in front of you and you go for it.  That’s Odelia, that’s me.”
Odelia’s story is just one aspect of Papua New Guinea's agricultural success covered in Episode 2 of Food Bowl on Australia Plus Television.  If you miss the broadcast catch the program later on our Watch Now service.
- See more at: http://www.australiaplus.com/international/2014-12-17/papua-new-guinea’s-fine-cocoa-back-from-the-brink-of-disaster/1400019#sthash.ekFx3VDk.zKTITB2s.dpuf

Will the Search for Amelia Earhart ever end?

Nearly eight decades after she disappeared in the South Pacific, the aviator continues to spark intense passion—and controversy 
Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

Do you want to see it?” Ric Gillespie asks, reaching for a black portfolio resting on the floor of his Pennsylvania farmhouse. He extracts a sheet of aluminum, about 18 by 24 inches—bent, dented, scratched and crisscrossed by 103 rivet holes, whose size, position and spacing he has studied for almost 25 years the way assassination buffs pore over the Zapruder film. And with good reason: If he’s right, this is one of the great historical artifacts of the 20th century, a piece of the airplane in which Amelia Earhart made her famous last flight over the Pacific Ocean in July 1937. 
With rulers, photographs and diagrams, he shows where it could have fit on Earhart’s customized Lockheed Electra, over the hole left when she removed a window on the right rear fuselage. “These things don’t just line up by coincidence,” he says. In late October, after seizing a chance to compare his aluminum sheet against an Electra under restoration in Kansas, he announced that the rivet holes and other features were the equivalent of “a fingerprint” establishing that it had come from Earhart’s plane, leading some news organizations to declare the case closed (Discovery News headline: “Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment Identified”). He tells me he’s “98 percent” sure the piece came from Earhart’s plane. He raises that figure to 99 percent after getting a report from a leading metallurgist, Thomas Eagar of MIT, who concluded that “the preponderance of the evidence indicates you have a true Amelia Earhart artifact.” That’s still 1 percent less certain than he was in 1992, when he told Life magazine: “There’s only one possible conclusion: We found a piece of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft.”
Anyone who thinks his new data will settle the question of what happened to Earhart, though, hasn’t been paying attention for the last 78 years. Other researchers have studied the same rivet holes and radio transcripts and come to radically different conclusions—and they’re not conceding anything. 
Ever since Gillespie found this piece of metal in 1991, on the tiny, remote island where he believes Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crash-landed and died as castaways, he has been the public face of America’s never-ending fascination with Earhart’s fate. Yet it was only in the last few months that he obtained what he considers conclusive evidence that it came from their plane. Rangy and graying, a former pilot and aircraft-accident investigator, he runs, with his wife, an organization called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery. Since 1989 TIGHAR has mounted ten expeditions to the South Pacific, and he is seeking money for an 11th. His fund-raising prowess and mediagenic announcements have made Gillespie an object of envy and occasional vitriol among his fellow Earhart researchers—a group that includes serious historians as well as wild-eyed obsessives, who pile up scraps of evidence into conspiracies reaching right up to the White House.
“It’s nonstop,” marvels Dorothy Cochranea curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, who was recently contacted by a researcher trying to track down a piece of carved driftwood found 70 years ago that he thinks holds a clue to Earhart’s fate. Cochrane understands the interest in her, but had expected it would have died down by, say, the 1997 centennial of her birth. “That’s what drives me crazy,” she says. “Now that she’s long gone, why are people holding onto this?”
In 1937, Earhart was one of the most famous women in the world, a best-selling author, feminist hero and friend of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Born in Atchison, Kansas, to a locally prominent family,
 Earhart had fallen in love with flying as a young woman, and she became famous in 1928 as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic—as a passenger, an experience she nevertheless turned into a best-selling book. Subsequently she set numerous records as a pilot, flying solo across the Atlantic, nonstop across North America and from Honolulu to Oakland. With the help of her husband, George (G.P.) Putnam, a scion of the publishing family, she made a career of flying, writing and lecturing. Slender, diffident, good-looking in a tousled way, she reminded people of that other famous aviator from the Midwest, Charles Lindbergh. But, says Cochrane, while Lindbergh shrank from fame, Earhart embraced her opportunity to be a role model for women.
Except by 1937, there were fewer and fewer places left that no one had flown between. Earhart was intent on one last spectacular trip, circling the globe around the Equator on a zigzag route that would cover more than 30,000 miles. In a twin-engine Electra stuffed with enough fuel to stay aloft for 20 hours, she set out that March from Oakland and got as far as Honolulu, where the plane was damaged in a botched takeoff attempt. After it was shipped back to California for repairs, she took off again on May 21, heading east this time, taking 40 days and making more than 20 stops (including Miami; San Juan; Natal, Brazil; Dakar; Khartoum; Calcutta; Bangkok; and Darwin, Australia) to reach the airfield at Lae, Papua New Guinea. The next leg, to tiny Howland Island, 2,556 miles away, would be the hardest. She took off at 10 a.m. on July 2, Lae time, planning to land roughly 20 hours later, on the morning of the same date after crossing the International Date Line. Depending on which version you accept, either she was never seen alive again, or died a few years later in captivity, or lived into her late 70s under an assumed identity as a New Jersey housewife.
The world looked very different from inside a cockpit in those days, before radar, GPS or weather satellites. Noonan, a highly regarded pioneer in aerial navigation, had to rely on sun and star “sights” to chart a course. The Electra had a radio direction finder, which could be used to navigate over short distances, but it apparently didn’t work well enough to be helpful. A Coast Guard cutter, the Itasca, was standing by near Howland to guide her in. There was a schedule for Earhart to communicate with the Itasca at specific intervals, but it fell apart, perhaps because the cutter was in an unusual time zone with a half-hour offset. For reasons unknown—Gillespie believes the Electra’s receiving antenna, strung on struts beneath the fuselage, broke during takeoff at Lae—it appears that Earhart never heard the Itasca’s increasingly urgent calls.

The absence of conclusive evidence has given rise to competing theories on what became of Amelia

But she must have been close. The Itasca’s operators heard her transmissions, growing stronger as she approached Howland Island shortly after sunrise. At one point her signal was so strong the ship’s radio operator ran to the deck to look for her overhead. But he saw only empty sky, and she, it seems, just clouds and empty ocean. Near the end, her voice was becoming strained; she sounded “frantic,” according to the Itasca’s commanding officer. “We must be on you but cannot see you,” she radioed. “Gas is running low.” Her last message reported she was flying on a line “157” (southeast) and “337” (northwest). But she neglected to say in which of those directions she was heading. After that, silence.

Author Elgen Long (George Napolitano / Filmmagic)
So the simplest explanation, and the official version, of her disappearance: Unsure of her location and out of fuel, she crashed and sank in the 18,000-foot-deep waters northwest of Howland Island. The Itasca hurried off to search in that direction; the battleship Colorado, arriving on July 7, would search to the southeast. The aircraft carrier Lexington, based in San Diego, arrived a few days later and stayed in the area until July 18. None of the ships or planes saw so much as an oil slick. “Crashed-and-sank” was the conclusion of Elgen Long, a veteran military and commercial pilot, who with his wife, Marie, spent 25 years researching their book Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved.
It remains the simplest explanation, but for that very reason, has attracted derision from those who prefer their history complicated.
Some of the technical points are in dispute. Skeptics point out that the nominal flying time for the Electra on full tanks was 24 hours, not 20. But Earhart had faced head winds of 26.5 miles an hour, roughly twice as strong as forecast. Early in the flight a storm required a fuel-wasting climb to 10,000 feet. In 1999, an analysis by Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Center concluded that her tanks were almost certainly empty as she approached Howland. “She probably should have turned back to Lae at the halfway point,” says David Jourdan, the president of Nauticos, an undersea exploration company, which has sent two expeditions to look for the wreckage.

Marine explorer David Jourdan (Nauticos )
“She knew she was going in,” Long says. “She couldn’t find the island and was running out of fuel. Her voice showed that.”
Others come to different conclusions. Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro, part of the Republic of Kirabati), where Gillespie has been searching, is about 350 nautical miles from Howland—coincidentally, or not, along the “157-337” line Earhart said she was flying—so he has tried to show she had enough fuel to fly at least that far. He also cites dozens of messages, supposedly from Earhart, that were heard around the Pacific and as far away as Florida for five days after she disappeared. (Under certain conditions, shortwave radio waves, reflected by the ionosphere, can “skip” for thousands of miles.) Obviously, if genuine, these would disprove the crashed-and-sank theory. Some clearly were hoaxes, but others are harder to dismiss. 

Betty Klenck Brown, who may have heard Earhart’s radioed pleas for help. (Noah Berger / AP Images )
Betty Klenck, a teenager in St. Petersburg, Florida, was cruising the dial on her family’s shortwave set and was startled by a voice saying, “This is Amelia Earhart. Help me!” Sitting alone in her family’s living room, she strained to hear a woman crying, calling for help and arguing with a man who seemed to be delirious. “Waters knee deep!” Betty heard. “Let me out!”
As the weak signal faded in and out over three hours, Betty copied what she heard into her notebook. Her father reported it to local Coast Guard officials, who told him everything was under control. Betty held on to the notebook until she showed it to Gillespie in 2000.

Laurie Robin

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/will-search-for-amelia-earhart-ever-end-180953646/#yjkJW8GTMCOSJt0Q.99
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Harmony Gold and Newcrest to invest $2.3 billion in Papua New Guinea mine development

 Mining Technology

16 December 2014
Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest Mining are set to invest $2.3 billion in developing their Golpu deposit in Papua New Guinea.
Harmony and Newcrest each own 50% of the Golpu project through the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV).

Image: Schematic cross section of Golpu porphyry deposit 2012 compared with 2014. Photo: courtesy of Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited.

The companies will advance the project to feasibility study stage, which covers the first stage of Golpu's development.
Targeting the upper higher value portion of the ore-body, work during stage one will continue on optimising a second stage mine development (stage two), which will encompass the rest of the ore reserves.
The feasibility study for the first stage, as well as the updated pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the second stage of the project, is slated for completion by the end of calendar year 2015.
"The updated pre-feasibility study supports our view that Golpu is a spectacular ore body with a large copper component, affordable and mineable."
Harmony Gold Mining CEO Graham Briggs said: "The updated pre-feasibility study supports our view that Golpu is a spectacular ore body with a large copper component, affordable and mineable.
"The conclusion of the updated PFS is a major project milestone and has demonstrated the significant potential of this world-class orebody, which contains mineral resources of 20 million ounces of gold and 9.4 million tonnes (Mt) of copper."
With the assistance of WorleyParsons as project consultant, the Golpu project team has incorporated a total of 52,000 new drill core samples into the updated study.
The two proposed block caves in stage one have been designed to access about 40% of the contained metal (gold and copper) of the Golpu reserve with the remaining 60% of reserve being extracted by a future deeper block cave (stage two).
Later, the mining and processing infrastructure of stage one will be used to support development of the second part.
Stage one extracts 146Mt at an average grade of 1.02g/t gold and 1.6% copper, and the proposed start-up production rate is 3Mt as year mined from Block Cave 1 (BC1) and 6Mt a year from the deeper Block Cave 2 (BC2).
BC2 is situated about 1,050m below surface whereas BC1 is only around 425m below surface and will produce 12Mt of cave ore over a five year period.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Daewoo International demonstrates confidence in Papua New Guinea economy

Office of the Prime Minister
Papua New Guinea

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill  has welcomed Daewoo’s ongoing commitment to Papua New Guinea. 
During a courtesy call by the Daewoo International’s president, Byeong Eal Jeon, and senior executive vice-president, Jeong Hwan Park, O'Neill, accompanied by the Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investment, Ben Micah, thanked the company for its enthusiasm for expanding operations in PNG.
From left are Byeong Eal Jeon, Minister Ben Micah, Byeong Eal Jeon, and Prime Minister Peter O'Neill 

O'Neill said Daewoo was a major international company that recognised the investment and business potential of PNG and was seeking to deepen involvement in the economy.
“Our door is always open to international investment and the introduction of new technologies and processes," he said.
“Companies like Daewoo bring with them knowledge that has been gained around the world that can then provide solutions to challenges faced in a geographically diverse country like Papua New Guinea.”
Jeon provided an overview and presentation of current projects Daewoo is currently operating around the region and would like to further expend in PNG.
These include engagement in power generation, the construction of modular housing and transportation infrastructure.
“Mr Jeon has provided an assurance that Daewoo’s operations in Papua New Guinea will work accordance and national standards and environmental requirements,” O’Neill said.
“It is important that our people can physically access electricity, and that this energy is provided at a cost that is affordable to families. 
“Keeping costs down also expands the revenue base for energy providers and we ask all related companies to be aware to ensue they factor affordability into their business plans.”
Jeon advised PM O’Neill that Daewoo International was looking forward to presenting proposals to the Government on future major infrastructure projects as these open to tender processes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Prime Minister reassures nation of increasing preparedness to deal with security incidents

Prime Minister's Media
Following the armed siege that occurred in Sydney overnight, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has provided reassurance that Papua New Guinea’s capacity to deal with a range of threats continues to increase in the face of a changing global security environment.
“It is only natural that around the world right now people are asking if their domestic security services are effectively equipped to deal with a range of potential threat scenarios,” PM O’Neill said.
“As we have seen over the past day and night, no country in the world can be thought to be immune from such brutal acts, and even with the high skill level of New South Wales police, the safety of all people cannot be guaranteed in such a complex situation.
“The range and form of security threats facing the global community has changed in recent years, and security services of all nations take into consideration both domestic and international factors.
“Every country is different, and while Papua New Guinea does not face the same security threats as countries such as Australia or the United States, we must continue to be vigilant.
"Internal training has been improved through ongoing mentoring to raise the capacity of our security services.
"Direct training is further being undertaken by Papua New Guinea’s police and military personnel in Australia, the United States, Israel and other partner countries.
“This improves the capacity for our police and military to deal with a range of potential threats including hostage situations.
“Funding for law and order continues to increase each year and we are in a much better situation than a few years ago.
“Papua New Guinea’s security capacity and preparedness will continue to evolve particularly as we prepare to host global events including APEC."



Papua New Guinea’s condolences for Sydney siege victims

Office of the Prime Minister

Papua New Guinea

 Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has written to Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot  to convey the nation’s sympathy following the death of two hostages in an armed siege in Sydney overnight.
“It was with great concern that we have seen events unfold relating to the armed siege at Martin Place in Sydney overnight,”  O’Neill said in the letter.
“On behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea, I express our deep condolences to the families of the victims of this siege who died in such tragic circumstances.
“The innocent victims of this tragedy were in the prime of their lives and their loss is felt around the world.
“We further express our concern for the survivors and the torment they feel as they seek to come terms with what has occurred.
“Papua New Guineans stands with our Australian brothers and sisters and share the grief your nation is experiencing today.
“It is at times such as this that people and nations unite in common purpose to work together for a better world that is free of such brutal acts.”

Christmas in Lae

Newcrest Mining targets Papua New Guinea prize


NEWCREST Mining says it expects to cut costs by splitting the development plan for a major offshore project into two stages. 

Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas. Picture: Supplied
Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied
The Melbourne-based gold mining heavyweight says it is planning to target the higher value part of the ore body in the first stage of the Golpu gold and copper project.
A pre-feasibility study for stage two of the project, in Papua New Guinea, will be ­updated.
The estimated capital outlay for the first stage over the life on the mine is $US3.1 billion ($3.8 billion).
A joint venture project with Harmony Gold Mining, Golpu was originally forecast to cost $US4.8 billion.
“By targeting the high value core of the ore body first, we have increased the ­economic returns from the mine by being cash flow ­positive earlier in the life of the mine,” chief executive Sandeep Biswas said.
“Progressing stage one to the feasibility study stage aligns with Newcrest’s strategy of profitable growth through low-cost operations.”
Both the stage one feasibility study and stage two pre-feasibility study are expected to be updated by the end of the month. Production at stage one is forecast to begin in 2020, with annual output expected to peak at 320,000 ounces of gold and 150,000 tonnes of copper in 2025.
Production for the original project was forecast to peak at 550,000 ounces of gold and 330,000 ounces of copper.
The Golpu deposit forms part of the Wafi-Golpu project, 65km from Lae.
The PNG Government has an option to take a 30 per cent stake in the project, which would reduce Newcrest and Harmony’s 50 per cent shares to 35 per cent.
Newcrest shares closed down 5c at $10.67 on Monday — a performance marginally better than the wider market.
Shares in the group were trading at about $8.60 early last month but have climbed in line with the gold price, which is finding favour as a safe haven while other commodity prices broadly slide.
Gold was trading at $US1216.92 an ounce on Monday, compared with less than $US1150 early last month.

Papua New Guinea approves 50 applications from Manus Island asylum seekers but resettlement delayed

By Liam Cochrane
Papua New Guinea has approved 50 refugee applications from the 1,000 men on Manus Island, but is yet to resettle anyone.
PNG's foreign minister Rimbink Pato said the assessment of asylum applications on Manus Island was going "full speed on every front".
"Fifty asylum seekers have been determined genuine refugees," Mr Pato said.
He said the men will be resettled in PNG but that has been delayed by the lack of a policy framework.
While a permanent policy has been under review for months, an interim plan has been announced.
Papua New Guinea will give refugees 12-month bridging visas and help them find jobs but the longer-term prospects for refugees are not clear.
Australia is funding a new immigration detention centre near Port Moresby that PNG officials say is for asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected and are being deported.
There have been no reports, so far, of negative assessments.

Papuan bishop decries witch hunts, violence against women

By Antonio Anup Gonsalves
.- A bishop in Papua New Guinea last week condemned the witch hunts which take place in the country, where many residents believe in sorcery and those accused of practicing it – mostly women – are attacked and murdered by mobs.

Indigenous Papuans performing a traditional dance. Credit: Diocese of Daru-Kiunga.
Indigenous Papuans performing a traditional dance. Credit: Diocese of Daru-Kiunga.

“I encourage all our citizens not to get into this bad habit of accusing innocent and defenseless people of sorcery, resulting in torturing and killing,” Bishop Arnold Orowae of Wabag, capital of Enga province in Papua New Guinea's highlands, said in a Dec. 9 statement.
“This is a moral evil that should not be practiced,” he added.
Nearly all of Papua New Guinea's population is Christian, and 27 percent is Catholic, yet many Papuan Christians integrate indigenous beliefs and practices into their religious life.
Some indigenous Papuans do not believe in misfortune and accidents, and attribute them to sorcery, while the accusation can also be used for revenge or envy. Amnesty International reports that women are six times more likely to be accused of sorcery than are men.
Bishop Orowae said the accused are often women who are “vulnerable and defenseless, and people run around aimlessly taking pleasure in accusing, torturing, and even killing them.”
“No one is there to defend these defenseless women,” Bishop Orowae lamented. “It is saddening to hear and experience such brutal killings.”
In August, the country's Institute of National Affairs told Pacific Beat that much of the sorcery-related violence is committed by young men in “power plays” in their rural communities.
“In this age and time we cannot continue to act and behave like barbaric people who have no respect for life and who kill to protect their territories,” Bishop Orowae stated.
Witch hunts begin at funerals of the deceased, or the bedside of the ill, Richard Eves, an anthropologist with the Australian National University, told The Diplomat, an Asia-Pacific current affairs magazine, earlier this year. The magazine noted: “With limited medical or scientific understandings of health and illness, communities find few alternative explanations to counter their deeply embedded fear of supernatural evils.”
Bishop Orowae said: “People are still ignorant and would not want to accept that people can die at any time through sickness or damage done to their body. Even healthy people can die of sicknesses.”
“Where does this come from?” he asked. “It is either pure jealousy, or it is used as a means to accuse people for revenge.”
Bishop Orowae, who is president of the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands bishops' conference, reminded local residents that “respect for life should be in the conscience of all people regardless of who that person is.”
“We have laws of the country that govern us,” he stated. “We have the Christian faith that also determines our way of life in following Jesus, proclaiming his truth and living his life.”
Papua New Guinea's 1971 Sorcery Act criminalized the practice of sorcery, and accepted the accusation of sorcery as a defense in cases of murder, but the act was repealed in 2013.
Its appeal, however, was accompanied by a new law which included sorcery-related killings among crimes penalized by capital punishment, as well as aggravated rape and armed robbery.
Despite this, witch hunts and the murder of supposed witches continues, with many police failing to stop the violence; the country's Constitutional and Law Reform Commission estimates 150 sorcery-related deaths annually. Many cases go unreported due to non-collaboration with officials, and fear of reprisal.
In light of this trend, Bishop Orowae thanked local administration and police for recently saving three defenseless women from mob violence in Teremanda, a village of Enga province.
“God has given us this life as a gift and we should respect it, and only God can take it back,” Bishop Orowae further explained. “He does not give us permission to take away the lives of others, even the unborn, the disabled, the criminals, the unwanted, the sick.”
In January, the Church in Papua New Guinea held a seminar to tackle the epidemic of sorcery-related violence, at which Fr. Franco Zocca, an Italian missionary and sociologist, told attendees that “only scientific enlightenment and a massive education effort can help overcome sorcery beliefs” in the country.
Fr. Zocca has coordinated a four-year research study on sorcery in Papua New Guinea. The aim of the conference was to explore the Church's attitude toward magic and sorcery, as well as data collected by the Melanesian Institute, which studies indigenous cultures in the region.
The Church is working to provide education and catechesis to indigenous Papua New Guineans to help them overcome superstitious beliefs.
“It gives a bad image of this country and its people,” Bishop Orowae concluded. “Let’s promote the good side of our lives and country, and do away with the bad practices.”