MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Ok Tedi settlement rejected

Published by MAC on 2004-02-01

Ok Tedi settlement rejected

Courtesy of Minerals Policy Institute

1st February 2004

The recent settlement of the case brought by PNG Western Province landowners against BHP Billiton (BHP-B) and Ok Tedi Mining Ltd failed to reflect the wishes of a significant portion of the class action participants. A primary aim of the current court case was to prevent the Ok Tedi mine from continuing to dump mine wastes directly into the river and to force BHP-B and OTML to deal with the serious problems associated with ongoing river pollution.

Letters of Objection - online:

From the 12th of January, right up to the date of the court hearing, the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne received an extraordinary series of letters objecting to the pending settlement of the class action against BHP-B and OTML and rejecting the terms of the proposed agreement. MAC has linked to the full text of these objections:

Objection Komopkin Village Reps: "Our objection therefore is - Where is the evidence that the Company (OTML/BHP-B) have complied with all environmental standardsof the state of Papus New Guinea and the International standard? Where is the evidence of the physical construction of the "Tailings Pipeline"? Where is the evidence that the water is safe to drink? Where is the evidence that there is no proof ? of endangerment by "Acid Rock Drainage"?" (Full Text)

Objection Jimmy Woia: "The main question is who is really responsible for the environmental damages caused to the whole ecosystems? Would there be any evident of such massive destruction caused by Mine activities in Australia? What would substitute the lost of our fish, our sago swamps, the riches soil at river banks, food crops, washing and drinking places, etc?" (Full Text)

Affidavit Fly River Group: "We swear on oath ? (3) That the impact has extended further down the river and has affected the Eco-system of the river, therefore, we have taken the oportunity in this Court, that there is no such thing as a "tailing pipeline" physically on the ground as allegation brought by BHP and Ok Tedi. Rather the impact is ever greater than prior to 1996?(4) The "Community Mine Continuation Agreement" was never explained to the villages. Insofar as we understand it takes away our right of land it breaches the constitution of our country." (Full Text)

Also available, the newsletter that was jointly circulated by Slater and Gordon, who were charged with representing the interests of the plaintiffs in the case, and OTML. Even though the purpose of the newsletter was to instruct the remaining plaintiffs in the case about their right to object to the proposed settlement, the newsletter erroneously asserts that: "the court case has been dismissed and an Out-of-Court agreement has been reached." The Courts allowed the settlement to procede despite this eggregrious assertion. OTML newsletter jumps the gun. (Full Text)

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