BHP lawsuit (re Papua New Guinea)

In 1994, Papua-New Guinean (PNG) landowners sued BHP in the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia alleging that BHP’s operations at the Ok Tedi copper mine caused destruction of the surrounding environment and of their traditional lifestyle.  The plaintiffs alleged that BHP dumped mine tailings waste into the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers.  In 1996, BHP and the plaintiffs reached an out-of-court settlement which included payment of approximately AUS$40 million in financial compensation as well as the dredging of tailings from the rivers in an attempt to limit further damage.  In 2000, the plaintiffs sued BHP in Australia again, for breaching the terms of the 1996 settlement related to environmental mitigation at the mine.  In February 2002, BHP Billiton (BHP merged with Billiton in 2001) withdrew from the Ok Tedi mine, transferring its 52% equity stake to the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program Limited.  At the same time, BHP Billiton signed Mine Continuation Agreements with most local clans or landowning groups.  These agreements signified that the local groups consented to the continuation of mining activity at Ok Tedi, and they agreed to discharge and release BHP Billiton from any liability related to the Ok Tedi mine.

In January 2007, landowner groups from the Ningerum indigenous people filed suit in PNG National Court against BHP Billiton and the operators of the Ok Tedi copper mine for civil damages exceeding US$4 billion.  The plaintiff groups in this case had not signed Mine Continuation Agreements.  BHP Billiton and the other defendants have applied to the court to have the proceedings struck.  In September 2013 the Parliament passed a law removing BHP Billiton’s immunity with regards to environmental claims.  In January 2014 a court ordered Oki Tedi Mining to stop dumping mine waste and tailings into rivers.

- "PNG court orders Ok Tedi to halt dumping waste", Liam Cochrane, Australia Plus, 27 Jan 2014
- “PNG villagers sue BHP, Ok Tedi miners”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Jan 2007
- “Litigating Ok Tedi (Again)”, Stuart Kirsch, Cultural Survival Quarterly, 31 Aug 2002
- “Legal action starts over Ok Tedi mine”, Asia Pulse, 12 Apr 2000
- “In a Fouled Jungle, Tribes Win One”, Kevin Murphy, New York Times, 12 Jun 1996
- [PDF]“Acting globally: Eco-politics in Papua New Guinea”, Stuart Kirsch, Journal of the International Institute [USA], vol. 3, no. 3, Summer 1996

- BHP Billiton: Environmental Incidents And Fines, 2007 [scroll down to “Former Operations – Ok Tedi Mining Limited”]
- BHP Billiton: Court Dismisses Ok Tedi Proceedings, 16 Jan 2004
- BHP Billiton: BHP Billiton Withdraws from Ok Tedi Copper Mine and Establishes Development Fund for Benefit of Papua New Guinea People, 8 Feb 2002
- BHP Billiton: Legal Action on Ok Tedi Misconceived: BHP, 11 Apr 2000
- Ok Tedi Mining: Community Mine Continuation Agreements
- Mineral Policy Institute: Cracks in the Facade of BHP's exit from Ok Tedi Mining Disaster Appear, 22 Jan 2007

-[PDF] Court order [asking Oki Tedi Mining to restrain from dumping mine waste & tailings into rivers], National Court of Justice at Waigani (Papua New Guinea), 24 Jan 2014

Judgments of Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia:

21 December 2001, granting injunction to enforce June 1996 settlement
- [PDF] 20 September 1995
- [PDF] 8 November 1994

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Article
3 November 2008

[PDF] Obstacles to Justice and Redress for Victims of Corporate Human Rights Abuse

Author: Univ. of Oxford Pro Bono Publico

This submission is prepared by Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) to inform the mandate of Professor John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary-General (SRSG) on business and human rights... The SRSG has been asked at various stages of his mandate to further explore the obstacles victims of corporate human rights abuse face in accessing justice and obtaining remediation through domestic legal systems... [This] project considers these obstacles in relation to...13 separate jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the European Union, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. [refers to lawsuits involving Cape, Union Carbide (part of Dow) (Bhopal), Total, Unocal (part of Chevron), BHP Billiton, Cambior, Anvil Mining (Kilwa)]

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Article
29 October 2008

[PDF] Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches world’s first online portal profiling human rights lawsuits against companies

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Today the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches a free online portal – the first to bring together and demystify lawsuits from across the world alleging human rights abuses by companies. The portal summarises in non-legal language over 35 cases and the positions of each side, with more cases to be added soon. It also presents special commentaries by experts...Companies in profiled lawsuits include: AngloGold Ashanti, Barclays, BHP Billiton, Biwater, Blackwater, BP, Cambior, Cape PLC, Chevron/Texaco, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Dow/Union Carbide, Drummond, DynCorp, ExxonMobil, Firestone, Ford, Freeport-McMoRan, IBM, Mitsubishi, Nike, Occidental, Rio Tinto, Severstal, Shell, Standard Chartered, Talisman, Trafigura, Total, UBS, Wal-Mart, Yahoo!

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Article
19 January 2007

PNG [Papua New Guinea] villagers sue BHP, Ok Tedi miners

Author: Australian Associated Press (AAP)

Australian mining giant BHP Billiton and the operators of the Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea are being sued for civil damages exceeding $US4 billion ($A5.08 billion) by villagers on the Ok Tedi River... [Plaintiffs' lawyer Carmellus] Narokobi represents six Ningerum clans who are not signatory to the Community Mine Continuation Agreement between landowners and Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) [agreed following an earlier lawsuit in Australia]. [OTML is jointly owned by Inmet Mining, Govt of Papua New Guinea & PNG Sustainable Development Program]

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Article
1 October 2005

[DOC] Regulations for Corporations: A historical account of TNC regulation

Author: Désirée Abrahams

This paper has aimed to give a contemporary history of the regulation of transnational corporations...[refers to Ford, General Motors, IBM, Pepsi Cola (now PepsiCo), United Fruit Company (now Chiquita), International Telephone and Telegraph Company (ITT) (present-day ITT Industries was one of the companies that emerged when ITT split up), Shell, Unilever, Danone, Altria, Thor, Rio Tinto, Cape Plc, Cambior, BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoran, Chevron, Unocal, Body Shop, Ben & Jerry's (part of Unilever), Novartis]

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Article
1 June 2004

States and Corporations: Legal Responsibilities to the People

Author: Ana Elena Obando, Women's Human Rights net

[A] special report on the legal, civil and criminal responsibilities of states and corporations to the people for the violation of their human rights. It explains the international legal framework and the mechanisms available that may be used to hold corporations accountable. Finally, it mentions opportunities for and limitations to advancing an agenda for women through these mechanisms. [refers to Shell, Dow Chemical, Occidental Chemical (part of Occidental Petroleum), Dole, Standard Fruit (now Dole), Standard Fruit & Steamship (now Dole), Chiquita, Monsanto, Pemex, BHP Billiton, Cambior, ExxonMobil, Texaco (part of ChevronTexaco), Total, Union Carbide (part of Dow Chemical)]

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Article
1 February 2004

full report: "Dirty Metals: Mining Communities and the Environment"

Author: Earthworks and Oxfam America

...details the massive pollution, huge open pits, devastating community health effects, worker dangers and, in many cases, human rights abuses that have become hallmarks of gold and metals mining in countries such as Peru, Indonesia, Ghana and in parts of the United States. [refers to mining companies including Cambior, Placer Dome, Southern Peru Copper Corp, Newmont, BHP Billiton, Inco, Doe Run (part of Renco), Noranda, Manhattan Minerals, Meridian Gold, Barrick Gold, Rio Tinto, Cameco, Freeport-McMoRan, Ashanti Goldfields, Benguet, Glamis Gold, Orvana Minerals, Pegasus Gold, Ivanhoe Mines, Esmeralda Exploration, Western Mining]

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Article
1 November 2003

[PDF] Community redress and multinational enterprises

Author: Alice Palmer, Foundation for International Law and Development (FIELD)

This paper...serves as a basic primer on some of the legal concepts and procedures relevant to communities seeking redress from multinationals. It looks at what makes multinationals different from other businesses and examines the obstacles to redress at the national level. Secondly it considers options for developing international approaches to community redress. [refers to Cape plc, Cambior, Thor, Unocal, Freeport-McMoRan, Shell, Union Carbide, BHP Billiton, RTZ (now Rio Tinto), Chevron, Texaco (now ChevronTexaco)]

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Article
4 April 2003

Chronology of OK Tedi case

Author: Slater & Gordon, solicitors for plaintiffs

[BHP mine in Papua New Guinea]

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Article
4 April 2003

company website: Ok Tedi Mining (OK Tedi Mining Limited)

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Article
4 April 2003

company website: BHP Billiton

Author: BHP Billiton

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