OTML appoints national female as Manager Safety
by PNG Business News - September 29, 2021
Manager Safety, Anna Ila
Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has appointed a national female employee to head its Safety Department. Anna Ila is now the Manager Safety after her appointment on August 27th.
Ms Ila brings to the Company a vast knowledge and experience in safety and occupational health having served as Superintendent in Safety Systems, Compliance and Statutory Training over the last seven years prior to her appointment, and with plans to continue the implementation and improvement of the Company’s safety performance.
“At Ok Tedi, we ensure that applicants are appropriately qualified and experienced to be successful in their role. Ms Ila is well placed to lead the Team in the implementation of Ok Tedi’s plans to continue to improve our safety performance,” said OTML General Manager, People and Capability, Mark Stone.
“Ok Tedi is an equal opportunity employer and in line with the Company’s 2025 Vision, diversity and inclusion is an important part of its strategy indicated by the aspiration to achieve 20% female representation in the Ok Tedi workforce as well as a 25% female representation in the leadership roles.”
Ok Tedi now has four female national managers across the business, and it is currently developing other female employees for senior roles in the future.
“I would like to thank the OTML management for the recognition and opportunity, and look forward to working with the team to deliver our plans to achieve OTML’s safety goal of zero harm,” Ms Ila said.
Also, in line with the Company’s vision to nationalise all managerial positions by 2025, there have been other appointments recently of qualified nationals, including that of the Manager Mine Support Services in Mr Masket Siune.
Mr Siune is no stranger to this role having started his career in the industry through Ok Tedi’s Graduate Development Scheme in 2005 and worked his way up the ladder and assuming superintendent roles in the Mining Business Unit’s Improvement, Training and Analysis sections of the Company.
“Congratulations to these newly appointed managers and we look forward to their continuing input to the success of Ok Tedi going forward,” said Mr Stone.
PNG Business News - March 29, 2021
Mass Testing Program Implemented at Ok Tedi Mining
Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has begun introducing a Mass Testing Program within its activities in order to avoid further COVID-19 transmission and ensure a secure return to operations. Following a spike in COVID-19 cases on the mine site and in Papua New Guinea, the company began introducing the program on Friday, March 19th, for a period of 14 days. OTML has successfully implemented the research initiative, collecting over 4,000 test samples from its staff, contractors, corporate associates, and families so far. These samples are being sent to Australia for processing, and the National Control Centre in Port Moresby is receiving daily reports. People who achieve a positive outcome are cared for and supported in the isolation and quarantine process, according to OTML's contact tracing and isolation protocols. The mass testing program, according to OTML Health Manager Dr. Charlie Turharus, has aided his medical staff, which consists of physicians and health care practitioners from the OTML-funded Tabubil Hospital, in quickly testing and isolating COVID-19 cases. “Fortunately, almost all the cases we have recorded are asymptomatic or only showing mild to moderate symptoms,” he said. OTML's Mass Testing scheme has included almost all of the mine's work areas, including Kiunga and Bige, where the company's wharf and dredging operations are located. Personnel in Port Moresby and its geographic discovery sites were also put to the test. “Our priority is the safety, health and wellbeing of all our personnel, and we will ensure that this mass testing program is implemented successfully so that we contain the spread of the virus and resume safe productions,” Dr Turharus said. The testing schedule is on target to prepare for the resumption of operations after the closure time is completed.
PNG Business News - March 31, 2021
Ok Tedi Mining Welcomes 40 New Trainees
Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) has added 40 new interns to its internship programs for 2021. Sixteen of the intakes will be part of the Graduate Development Scheme for two years, while the other 24 will be trade graduates who will complete a four-year apprenticeship program. OTML Managing Director and CEO, Musje Werror said, “Ok Tedi’s training programs are second to none and aimed at developing trainees to reach their full potential in their professional career paths and personal development.” Despite the fact that the recruitment drive was postponed due to the outbreak of the pandemic, he said that all trainees are on site and ready to join the Ok Tedi family. “The Training Centre is fully equipped to deliver high-quality training programs for both apprentices, graduates and employees which we have been doing for the past 32 years,” Werror said. One of the three main elements of OTML's commitment to developing a high-performing cohesive team is developing staff skills. He urged the newcomers to take advantage of the chance to start a new career and personal life. Werror said, “In life, you will be given opportunities, but how you approach these opportunities will determine where you end up.” Werror joined Ok Tedi as a fresh graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea thirty years ago, and today, as the managing director of the business, he is welcoming the new graduate trainees into OTML. Referring to Mr Werror’s story with OTML, Dauba Dauba, a graduate geologist from the University of Papua New Guinea said, “This in itself is an inspirational story for us.” At the programs' inception, 561 graduates and 1,194 tradesmen and women have graduated from their respective programs. Ok Tedi also provides the Preferred Area Development Training which is tailored for the locals in the Mine Preferred Areas. Manager, Organisational Development and Training, James Munro said, “We look forward to training another great batch of graduates and I encourage each and every one of you to work hard to succeed in this program.”
PNG Business News - March 19, 2021
Ok Tedi Halts Operations in Order to Contain the Spread of Covid-19
COVID-19 has forced Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) to pause operations in order to protect its employees, communities, and operations. Due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases at the mine site and in Papua New Guinea, OTML will temporarily pause operations on Friday, March 19th for 14 days to prevent further virus transmission within its operations. This suspension, according to OTML, coincides with the PNG government's National Isolation Strategy, which will go into effect on Monday, March 22nd. The success of the control steps, as well as when the virus has been contained, will decide when regular operations will resume. The decision to halt operations reflects OTML's commitment to take all reasonable steps to ensure the protection, health, and well-being of its staff, families, contractors, and host communities, as well as to allow a stable, cost-effective, and timely resumption of operations for the benefit of all stakeholders. During the suspension, the organization will take steps such as repatriating non-essential workers to their home provinces and introducing a mass testing program for its staff. Any staff may be forced to work regular hours during the suspension of operations in order to maintain essential services or for treatment and maintenance. The suspension is expected to result in a revenue loss of about PGK210 million, which will have a direct effect on foreign currency inflows into PNG. Meanwhile, the Company is weighing its options in light of the Australian government's decision to temporarily halt the fly-in and fly-out of mineworkers based in Australia. It said, “We do not anticipate significant disruption to our operations as a result of the Australian Government’s announcement, however, we are looking at alternative ways to repatriate several of our expatriate employees during the suspension of operations.” After COVID-19 cases were discovered in Queensland from international travellers in hotel quarantine, the company declared that it was suspending international charter flights into Australia. OTML hires over 1,800 people directly, with less than 4% of them being expatriates. OTML also confirmed that it would collaborate with the PNG government to help with vaccine procurement and distribution for OTML employees.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Australia buys Digicel, PNG’s mobile monopoly
Photo credit: Devpolicy by Stephen Howes Yesterday, Telstra announced that it was buying Digicel Pacific. Telstra itself is only paying $270 million, and the Australian government $1.33 billion. Yet, Telstra is obtaining 100% ownership. The deal is certainly an attractive one for Telstra. But does it make sense for Australia, and for the Pacific? Digicel has had a transformational impact in the Pacific, but now has too much market power. As the Telstra release explains, it holds the dominant position in all the Pacific countries in which it operates, except for Fiji, where it is in second place. In Papua New Guinea, which I know best, and which is by far Digicel's biggest market, the company has a 92% share of the mobile phone market. That makes Digicel effectively a monopoly in PNG. And that is why it is so profitable: like any monopolist, it exploits its market power. Australian and PNG researchers have been tracking mobile internet prices in PNG since Australia gifted it a new underwater cable . Their conclusion is that since the completion of that cable in December 2019 to today there has been no decrease in mobile internet prices. The reason is simple: the lack of retail competition. Michelle Nayahamui Rooney, Martin Davies and I last year exposed Digicel PNG’s predatory loan scheme. Digicel lends phone credit to its customers. They pay it back when they next top up. Our estimate is that Digicel made a 17% return from such loans every week, which is equivalent to an unbelievable 351200% a year. Is this really the way in which Australia want to engages in the Pacific – owning an enterprise that keeps prices high for consumers, and rips them off when they are desperate to make a call? Any monopolist is necessarily engaged in a battle between the consumer and their profits. At some point, Telstra will end up going toe-to-toe with the PNG telecom regulator, NICTA, as Digicel has done several times. It’s going to be awkward for both Telstra and the Australian government. Many will welcome the investment as a sign of Australian commitment to the Pacific. However, if we want to invest in the telecom sector in the Pacific, we should be backing alternatives to Digicel, to push prices down and improve services, not buying out the dominant player. Amalgamated Telecom Holdings based in Fiji is the Pacific’s second biggest telecom provider. It is currently planning to enter the PNG mobile market with support from the Asian Development Bank. This is the sort of investment we should be financing. That Australia has bought Digicel shows the extent to which the Pacific is now viewed through a China lens. That’s unfortunate. China is a massive economic power. Its companies will have increasing stakes in economies around the world. That is a fact we have to accept. The Australian government also needs to decide if its only goal is to counter China or if it is still seeks to promote Pacific development. When I was AusAID's Chief Economist, Digicel was the new kid on the block in the Pacific, and it was successfully challenging state-owned telcos that until then had been dominant. In 2006, in Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's flagship Pacific 2020 report, we wrote glowingly about the competition that various Pacific countries had recently started allowing in the mobile phone sector. Our analysis was right then, and remains relevant today. Yet here we are, in 2021, doing the opposite: rather than supporting greater competition in the telecom sector, subsidising the purchase of the incumbent monopolist. The decision to buy Digicel Pacific should be reversed. If it is too late for that, the Australian government should at least – in return for all its cheap and risk-reducing finance – oblige Telstra to operate Digicel for the benefit of the people of the Pacific rather than solely for its shareholders through an agreement that makes it clear that the Australian company is not only expected to return the cheap loan it has been given, but also reduce prices, and end rip-offs. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is the Director of the Development Policy Centre and a Professor of Economics at the Crawford School.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Taureka Replaced As Managing Director
Isikeli Taureka's position as managing-director (MD) of Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) was terminated by the National Executive Council (NEC) recently. Professor David Kavanamur has been appointed as interim MD until a permanent appointment is made, and Moses Maladina, the current chairman of PNG Power Ltd, has been named as acting chairman. Taureka was removed after 20 months, according to Prime Minister James Marape, due to poor performance by KCH and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and missed national project deadlines. “The reforms of the SOEs were endorsed by the Government in October 2019,” he said “We see it as the most-significant reform programme to be undertaken by any Government since the corporatisation of the state utilities and the creation of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), now KCH. “Building governance and accountability must go hand in hand with successful project execution. These are viable projects that can fundamentally change the accessibility and affordability of services and benefit the welfare of our people. “Extensive unexplained delays to major projects by KCH and SOEs are not acceptable. The Government understands that SOE issues cannot be immediately resolved as they take time. “That is why the NEC provided well over a year for KCH to work with SOEs to support the development and execution of strategies. We had hoped more would have been achieved during Taureka’s tenure. We regret to take the difficult step of severing the MD’s appointment. However, the NEC felt it had to be done. “The Telikom merger and partial privatisation with majority ownership and board control to be passed onto the super funds, for example, is one major issue the Government has been pushing since 2019 when we took office. “The merger of Water PNG and Eda Ranu is another matter that has been outstanding and not yet resolved. This merger is to take on a subsidiary structure where 20 percent of Eda Ranu is to be owned by Koiari landowners and 10 per cent each by Central Province and the National Capital District. “This decision was taken in 2019 but has not been implemented to date. “As for PNG Power and its continuous performance issues, these have been ongoing and evident. “These are badly-needed reforms within the SOEs and responsive policies have been launched by the Government, yet, very little or no progress have been made. “Out of respect to Taureka as a leading Papua New Guinea son, I had reached out to him for a meeting but there was no response forthcoming. Hence, the announcement of this decision (termination),” he added. Those nominated to crucial positions, according to Marape, must grasp the larger picture and act quickly to fulfill the government's goals.“For others in key leadership roles, whether as chair, members of boards, departments or agency heads, you are not here to pass the time or warm seats. Everyone must step up. “The Prime Minister’s Department is working to take stock of work done. So, if you feel you have not met your key performance indicators, I suggest you start thinking about resigning before the NEC asks you to leave.” According to Marape, Kavanamur had previously served as the chairman of KCH and had a thorough awareness of the organization's issues as well as the government's goals. Reference: The National (22 October 2021). “Cabinet Axes Taureka”.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Digicel Pacific to be Acquired by Telstra
Telstra has announced that it will buy Digicel Pacific for $US1.6 billion, plus up to an additional US$250 million based on business performance over the next three years, subject to government and regulatory approvals. In its six South Pacific markets – Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu – Telstra, Australia's leading telecommunications and technology company, will continue to invest in and operate the business under the Digicel brand name. Telstra International CEO Oliver Camplin-Warner said the agreement will allow Telstra to expand on Digicel Pacific's regional leadership and increase mobile connectivity in Papua New Guinea. “Denis O’Brien and the Digicel team have built a phenomenal business that’s centred on providing exceptional customer service, the best coverage and leading digital experiences. Telstra will add to these strengths and the team’s local knowledge with our more than one hundred years’ experience connecting the vast expanses of Australia to continue delivering great experiences for Digicel’s customers across the Pacific.” “We have 19.5 million retail mobile customers in Australia and our 4G network is the largest and most reliable in country. It covers some of the remotest parts of Australia – from the coast, to the outback and the Torres Strait Islands, just off the coast of Papua New Guinea. And we’re in the process of building Australia’s largest 5G network that now stretches to more than 240 towns and 75 per cent of the population,” Camplin-Warner said. There will be no employment losses in the region as a result of the transaction, and the present Digicel Pacific team will continue to manage the company on a day-to-day basis. Denis O'Brien, the current owner of Digicel, will continue on the Board of Directors. “We will invest our know-how and capital to further expand coverage and over time bring the benefits of 5G to Papua New Guinea. But we’ll retain the same Digicel brand the people of PNG know and love today with the same team and services they have come to rely on,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The purchase, according to Camplin-Warner, is in line with Telstra International's expansion plan, which now comprises operations in 20 countries outside of Australia and thousands of clients, including businesses, governments, and some of the world's largest technology firms. “Beyond Australia Telstra also has the most extensive subsea telecommunications cable network in the Asia Pacific. And we’re one of the biggest providers of voice and data services connecting the South Pacific to the rest of the world through our Southern Cross cable.” “Network traffic is growing faster than at any other period of time and digital technology is changing our world. We are at the centre of this, and so is Digicel Pacific. We are committed to delivering the best technology on the best network for PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The people and businesses of PNG will benefit from Telstra's experience rolling out a world-class 5G network and connecting diverse geographies, according to Colin Stone, CEO of Digicel Papua New Guinea. “Telstra’s network innovation has played a critical part in Australia being ranked first in the global Mobile Connectivity Index which assesses networks based on performance, affordability and availability. We look forward to working with Oliver and the Telstra team,” Mr Stone said. The two firms' ideals, according to Camplin-Warner, were likewise matched. “Digicel Pacific and Telstra are both committed to building a connected future so everyone can thrive and this includes supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities.” “Digicel Pacific has taken community development to the next level through the Digicel Foundation’s investment in health, education and community-based programs. We look forward to continuing this work, just as we do today with the Telstra Foundation and its commitment to using technology to support young people and help to reduce the digital divide.” “We will also bring a commitment to addressing climate change to help drive better environmental outcomes for the people of PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. Despite the fact that the transaction is funded by the Australian government, Telstra will remain the only owner and operator of the company. Reference: Loop (October 25, 2021). “Australia’s biggest telecommunications company to acquire Digicel Pacific”.