MAC: Mines and Communities

Cyanide spill shuts Simberi mine in PNG

Published by MAC on 2011-03-14
Source: Postcourier, Radio Australia

Marine life "dying" from marine wastes

Cyanide spill shuts Simberi mine

By Harlyne Joku


9 March 2011

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has ordered Allied Gold limited, operator of the Simberi Gold/Copper mine in the New Ireland Province to shut down its mill plant following a cyanide spill from one of its deep sea tailings disposal tanks last Tuesday.

Simberi Gold mine is located on Simberi Island, 135 kilometres east of Kavieng town.

The islanders are claiming that fish, turtles, dugongs, whales and other marine life are dying as a result of the cyanide in the water.

The mine is using the Deep Sea Tailings Placement System to dispose its waste and has reported to DEC that there is a leakage in one of the tailings tank in the sea.

Secretary of DEC Dr Wari Iamo confirmed the incident yesterday evening.
He said Allied Gold had reported to DEC about the incident on March 2 and that they were trying to contain the spill.

DEC officers moved in swiftly and instructed the mine to shut down its mill plant until further investigation and instructions.

The company has also been instructed to provide an incident report to DEC so we can be able to assess the situation and take necessary action including prosecution if there was negligence on the part of the company, Dr Iamo said.

Meanwhile, fish, whales, turtles and dugongs are dying as a result of the spill, the Deputy Provincial Administrator of New Ireland Province Ms Veronica Jigede also confirmed yesterday.

Ms Jigede said the provincial government has sent several officers to the islands to verify the report

She said they have taken photographs of dying fish and other marine life.

Ms Jigede said they had received unconfirmed reports that the impact of the spill has extended to neighbouring Tatau and Big Tabar Islands and that two workers have been hospitalised.

Ms Jigede said the locals have expressed anger over the accident saying they do not want to be treated like guinea pigs in testing out the Deep Sea Tailings Disposal system (DSTD).

The Post-Courier tried to contact Allied Gold for comment but was unsuccessful.

We also contacted MRA (Mineral Resources Authority) who confirmed the incident but did not wish to comment and referred us to DEC as the responsible monitoring agency.

Cyanide leakage spoils Tabar island

By Harlyne Joku


10 March 2011

The cyanide spill from a tailings disposal tank at the Simberi gold mine into the surrounding seas of the Tabar Islands in New Ireland Province is causing grave concern among the islanders and described as a major environmental disaster.

"The effect as of yesterday is of dead fish and a pig on my island of Tatau. People cannot use the sea anymore to bath. Tabar Islands are the jewel in the crown for the tuna fish. This is a major environmental disaster," Lamiller Pawut, a surveillance operations officer from the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agencies said.

Nambawan Supa managing director Leon Buskins said he was concerned that the mining operation has brought damage to the environment.

"Our pristine environment has more lasting value compared to the mine if the scale tips against the long-term preservation of the environment and its entire eco-system."

Namatanai MP Byron Chan said the National Government must be blamed for all the environmental damage on Simberi Island and immediately revoke Allied Gold Ltd's mining licence.

"The Government has totally failed my people. This is not the first time. There are many issues that needs to be addressed by the Government. But most importantly is the environment that we care about and the livelihoods of the island people," he said.

He said the spill was a result of total negligence by the government.

"The people want the government to take a decisive action in addressing the many environmental problems faced by the island people."

He called on online agencies directly responsible such as the Minerals Resources Authority and the Department of Environment and Conservation to take action.

"I had several meetings with landowners and they have expressed disgust at the developer, Allied Gold operations on the island," Mr Chan said.

"There was no proper environment assessment done. Rausim Allied Gold."

He said the provincial government and landowners were ready to take over the mine and want Allied Gold to quickly vacate the island.

Deputy provincial administrator Veronica Jigede who first reported to us of fish, turtle, dugongs and whales dying said yesterday she will give an update today (Thursday) when officers return from Simberi.

Governor Chan wants Simberi mine closed

By Noel Pascoe


10 March 2011

THE cyanide spill from the Simberi gold mine in New Ireland is the catalyst for a push to dump the controversial Australian miner.

A landowners group plus the province's father-and-son political leaders Sir Julius and Byron Chan want Allied Gold Ltd, the mine owners, turfed out.

The Post-Courier's revelation yesterday that the Government had ordered the mine to be shut because of a cyanide spill near the shores of Tabar Island prompted the province's politicians into action.

Governor Sir Julius Chan said the province had had enough of arrogant mining companies and Waigani controls and wanted the Australian company de-licensed and a way created for the provincial government and landowners to take over.

Namatanai MP Byron Chan (the mine is within his electorate) chimed in, echoing the call for delicensing and saying that the National Government had failed the people on environment and other grounds.

"I had several meetings with landowners and they have expressed disgust at the developer, Allied Gold operations on the island. There was no proper environment assessment done. Rausim Allied Gold," Mr Chan said.

"Enough is enough. New Ireland does not need Waigani or foreign miners dictating its future," Sir Julius said.

Mining company denies spill allegations in PNG

Bruce Hill (presenter)

Radio Australia

10 March 2011

Allied Gold is denying reports that waste from its Simberi mine is killing marine life in Papua New Guinea.

Simon Jemison, head of Investor and Media Relations for Allied Gold says the spillage of waste material was small, and confined to an area on land, so it couldn't have affected sea life.

He blames what he calls hysterical reporting in the PNG media.


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