Report from Peter Crowley, Project Co-ordinator, Canberra, Australia
Some of The Banaban Rehabilitation Working Team meeting at Brisbane International Airport on their way to work in Nauru. L-R: Peter Crowley, Ken Sigrah, Gordon Atkinson and Barney Hogan.
L-R: Gordon Atkinson, Barney Hogan, Stacey King, Peter Crowley
The Project Co-ordinator is in the process of preparing a detailed pre-feasibility study that can be provided to potential financial backers for their consideration. This involves reviewing past studies obtained from SOPAC looking at the remaining phosphate reserves and approaches to rehabilitation. He has been working on the Nauru Rehabilitation Project and considering ways to link the Banaba project with that project. This work is providing invaluable insights into how to go about rehabilitating Banaba. However without a detailed pre feasibility study that people can read, it is difficult to gain interest. So, the first priority is to complete this study.
Permission is being sought from the Kiribati Government for a plane that is going to take aerial photographs of Nauru to also overfly Banaba. These photos would be invaluable to the planning of rehabilitation on both islands. They would allow us to study the terrain in the centre of the islands and prepare three dimensional images of the pinnacle fields.
The Project Co-ordinator has also had discussions with several commercial interests about financing the feasibility study and a proposal to barge phosphate from the old BPC stockpile (and other already mined phosphate) on Banaba to Nauru for processing and export. Discussions have also been had with Nauru officials on this matter and there is some interest provided that there is sufficient stockpiled phosphate to justify the chartering of a vessel. This small project would allow us to establish a presence on the island to undertaken the full rehabilitation feasibility study. It would also contribute to financing the larger rehabilitation project.
A proposal from a potential customer to finance the barging project was reviewed by the project team and knocked back as it was not considered to be in the interests of the Banabans. A counter proposal that would be of much greater benefit to Banaba was sent to this company in early October. So far we have not had a response.
The Project Co-ordinator has established contact with several scrap steel dealers who are interested in collecting scrap from Nauru and Banaba. However, before any deal could be considered, the project team would need to visit Banaba to see what steel is required for future reconstruction and what can be sold as scrap.
Members of the working group have also been working to win Australian Government support for the project. Officials from AusAid, the Department of Foreign Affairs and two Minister's have been briefed on the project. Their support will not be immediately forthcoming as any assistance has to go through the Kiribati Government.
The project team has established contact with the Kiribati Government through the Permanent Secretary to the President. While there has been email contact and the President is in the loop, the next step in developing tis relationship is to visit Kirabati and dicuss the project with them. The Kiribati Government could be a very strong ally in raising awareness of the project and in developing a funding strategy. One strategy is link the project with the climate change issue. Kiribati needs armour rock for protection of land and buildings from seawater. Banaba has plentry of spare rock that could be landed in Kiribati at a much lower price than elsewhere.
Progress has been slow since Ken Sigrah and I visited Rabi last June. However, it has been steady and there are a number of promising leads to pursue next year. Phosphate markets are expected to pick up strongly next year and this should generate increased interest in the Banaba project. We may also be able to cash in on climate change developments following debacle in Copenhagen.
All the best for Christmas and the New Year and to assure you that the Banaban Rehabilitation Project is in progress.