On 9 November 2022, Jubilee Australia, the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG filed a complaint against Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold (Australia) – both Australian mining companies – in relation to their proposal to dump toxic mining waste into the Huon Gulf in PNG’s Morobe Province. The complaint was lodged on behalf of 2,596 community members in Morobe Province.
The companies are joint partners in the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture in PNG, which is proposing to construct and operate an underground copper-gold mine and associated ore processing. The complainants are opposed to the companies’ plan for the dumping of toxic mining waste into the ocean of the Huon Gulf.
The complaint makes several allegations against the companies, including:
- Failure to obtain community consent for the proposal
- Failure to provide an adequate environmental assessment of the proposal
- Failure to respect human rights
- Lack of due process in relation to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the impacted communities
The complainants seek several remedies, including for the companies to publicly commit to abandon their proposal and to develop a new tailings management plan.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter VI
- Chapter VI Chapeau
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1 a
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1 b
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1 c
- Chapter VI Paragraph 2
- Chapter VI Paragraph 2 a
- Chapter VI Paragraph 2 b
- Chapter VI Paragraph 3
- Chapter VI Paragraph 4
- Chapter VI Paragraph 5
On 1 August 2023, the Australian NCP published its initial assessment, deciding that the complaint merited further consideration and would be appropriate for ‘good offices’ within the OECD Guidelines. The NCP will proceed to offer its good offices to both parties. The NCP noted the complainant’s interest in engaging with the respondent companies on discussions around their concerns regarding the disposal of mining waste into the ocean via the two sites as currently proposed by the companies.
In its initial assessment, the NCP considered a submission by Harmony Gold (Australia) that it is is not subject to the NCP’s jurisdiction because it is the subsidiary of a foreign owned company, operating outside of Australia. The NCP stated that Harmony Gold (Australia)’s registration as a company in Australia meant that there was a sufficient connection for it to be subject to the jurisdiction of the Australian NCP, regardless of where its business activities may be and where its parent company may be located.
- Company in violation
- Other companies involved
- Affected people
- Jubilee Australia et al. on behalf of affected Morobe Province communities vs. Newcrest Mining Ltd and Harmony Gold (Australia) Pty Ltd