MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Tolukuma mine accused of contamination

Published by MAC on 2004-09-21

Tolukuma mine accused of contamination

Press Release

CENTRAL Province based Tolukuma Gold Mine has been accused of dumping its mine tailings into the Auga River and causing extensive damage downstream.

The company has also been accused of increased "environmental devastation" and ongoing health threats to local communities.

Australia-based non-governmental organisation Oxfam Community Aid Abroad's Mining Ombudsman 2004 report accused parent company Durban Roodepoort Deep (DRD) of lacking accountability and corporate social responsibility by dropping cyanide and then engaging in further exploration without community consent.

DRD yesterday dismissed the allegations made by Oxfam about management practices at their Tolukuma mine

(To read the full report click here)

Divisional director (Australasia) Richard Johnson said DRD was proud of Tolukuma, its community relationship and its operational achievements.

"Oxfam's allegations denigrate the hard work of many local and national Papua New Guineans working on the mine as well as the integrity of the Government's environmental and mine management policies," Mr Richardson said.

Mining Ombudsman with Oxfam Ingrid McDonald said the Tolukuma Gold Mine report was highly critical of DRD's use of the outdated riverine tailings disposal system.

"Over 160,000 tonnes of contaminated mine tailings are discharged annually into the local river system with fatal or severe consequences for local people after bathing, drinking or walking in the river," Ms McDonald said.

"Other negative impacts of the mine include reports of rising incidences of violence and sexual assault near the mine site.

"Downstream communities affected by the Tolukuma Gold Mine have received no compensation for damage done to the river and their loss of livelihoods." Mining Minister Sam Akoitai said yesterday the Government was happy with DRD operations at its Tolukuma mine.

He said he could not comment further until he had seen the Oxfam report. "We are satisfied with what is going on up there," Mr Akoitai said. "If they are coming up with new claims, we are satisfied with the Tolukuma operation.

"They (Oxfam) have to substantiate their claims if these are going to be new claims." Attempts to get comments from Department of Environment and Conservation Secretary Dr Wari Iamo have been unsuccessful. He was away at a meeting all day yesterday.

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