MAC/20: Mines and Communities

OTMLs US$153mil mine tailing pipeline

Published by MAC on 2007-07-21

OTMLs US$153mil mine tailing pipeline

The PNG National, http://www.thenational.com.pg/072007/business2.htm

21st July 2007

CONTRACTORS have recently converged into the small township of Tabubil, Western province for the Ok Tedi Mining Ltds (OTML) mine waste tailing project.

Mostly from Lihir, the contractors will be laying 130km-pipeline that will transport the sulphide concentrate for storage in specially-prepared containment areas at Bige.

The mine waste tailing project (MWTP) will cost OTML US$153 million (K425.3 million).

The company sought approval from the Minister for Environment and Conservation last December and one that was essential for OTML to be able to complete mining through to mid 2013 when it cease operations.

This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphides in the mill tailing which are currently discharged into the Ok Tedi river system.

It will also reduce the risk of acid rock drainage to the Ok Tedi/Fly river system.

OTML former managing director Keith Faulkner said this was a great challenge to well-document the impact of the mine wastes on the Ok Tedi and Fly river systems.

Mr Faulkner was instrumental in working closely with the local communities to bring about sustainable development despite the damaging impact of mine operations on the environment.

The most concerning development in the past few years had been the increasing risk presented by acid rock drainage, the result of oxidation of sulphide minerals in the waste materials, particularly the mill tailings.

We are working with the Departments of Environment and Conservation, and Mining to ensure that the design, operation, and the long term security of the storage is well understood and also to alleviate any remaining concerns that the community and regulators may have about this MWTP, Mr Faulkner had said.

The OTML 2006 annual review noted that using conventional flotation technology, the sulphide removal process will produce a final tailings stream containing less than 1% sulphur and a sulphide concentrate containing between 42% and 45% sulphur.

The containment areas at Bige will be located with the dredged sands and remain under permanently saturated conditions beneath the water-table.

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