MAC: Mines and Communities

Chinese company fails to move Ramu case

Published by MAC on 2010-03-31
Source: The National, Postcourier

Attempts by a Chinese company, to stall a court hearing against its seabed mine tailings proposal, have not succeeded. See:

Villagers protest mine company court battle to dump waste in bay

The National

29 March 2010

THE Chinese Metallurgical Construction Co (MCC) has failed in its bid to move the hearing of a case filed by Madang landowners.

Judge David Cannings ruled last Friday that it was not appropriate for the case to be moved to another province for hearing.

Instead, the judge ordered the Chinese mining company to return to court in Madang on April 12.

MCC, developer of the Ramu nickel mine in Madang province, went to court last Friday to request the injunction, against its plans to dump 100 million tonnes of mine waste in the Basamuk Bay, be lifted.

Local landowners protesting against the plan were not intimidated by a heavy police presence.

After failing to get the court to move the case out of Madang, MCC lawyer Ian Molloy told the court his client was not yet ready to proceed with its application, prompting the adjournment to April 12.

Landowners and local people protested peacefully outside the court house by holding placards showing their dismay.

Plaintiff's Eddie Tarsie, Sama Melambo and two local council members expressed their satisfaction with the court's decision.

The plaintiffs are fearful of the environmental damage the proposed dumping would cause.

An injunction was obtained last week preventing the company from laying the pipeline into the bay.

Basamuk ‘blast' further delayed



30 March 2010

PLANS by the developer of the Ramu nickel project to start its blasting exercise at Basamuk Bay have been further delayed.

Ramu NiCo (MCC) Limited filed an application last week to have the court injunction set aside but the matter was adjourned by the National Court last Friday to April 12.

Lawyer representing the landowners from Basamuk, Tiffany Nonggorr told a crowd, comprising locals from Basamuk and supporters that had converged at the court house that MCC, the Department of Environment and Conservation and Mineral Resources Authority had filed the application on Wednesday to have the injunction set aside so that it could start its coral blasting exercise

Mrs Nonggorr said the defendants served the application with 10 big folders of documents and had wanted the matter heard in two days which had in effect given them only a day to respond.

She said she had told the court the time-frame was too short and had asked that time be given as they (MCC and defendants) were likely to file more papers.

She said she and her clients would also need more time to go through the material, get their own experts to have a look and also put together more affidavits. Mrs Nonggorr said the presiding judge Justice David Cannings had agreed and said the matter would be heard on April 12 during which they could then apply to the court to get rid of the orders. She expressed satisfaction stating that this would give them more time to prepare.

"The injunction will remain in place until April 12. That means they will not be able to blast or continue their work on the pipeline yet," she said.

Mrs Nonggor also announced that on April 16 she would also go to court on behalf of the people living along the Ramu River led by Melchior Warre who were concerned about the damages being caused to the river system.

She said while there were ways to minimise the damages, the company had not attempted to pursue these options. "...We want to stop further damage to the Ramu River. We've seen the damages that the Ok Tedi mine did to the Fly River.

"Experts had said there would not be much damage to the Fly but look at what happened.

"During the construction phase the company should have put in place things like gutters and drains but it did not. So this is another matter that we will be going to court over," she said.

Sama Mellombo, who is leading the charge on the matter, said they were not against development taking place in their area, just the manner in which the operations were being carried out.

He alleged that while there were laws to protect the people and the environment, these were being broken and this was not good.

He said government had a duty to ensure that the developers it was bringing to develop the country's resources were following the very laws it had passed.
Meanwhile police had to be called to the court house to disperse a crowd that turned up to express their disgust at MCC's operations.

They were armed with placards a couple of which read "Madang not China", No Blasting, No dumping, where is justice".

Senior Constable Adam Yawing told reporters that the landowners had not sought clearance from authorities to stage their peaceful protest and that they had to be dispersed.

He said while their intentions may be good there was also the chance that opportunists could move in and take advantage of the situation.

He said if they were planning any such gatherings in future police be properly notified so that they could be prepared and on standby should anything go wrong.

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