MAC: Mines and Communities

Ok Tedi warns of environmental concerns as output rises

Published by MAC on 2006-02-01

Ok Tedi warns of environmental concerns as output rises

by Metal Bulletin

1st February 2006

Copper concentrate production at the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea rose 11 percent to 192,978 tonnes in 2005, owner Ok Tedi Mining said on Tuesday.

Gold production rose almost 10 percent to 574,694 ounces last year, it said. High metals prices more than doubled net profit to PGK1.05 billion ($320 million) last year, allowing the company to pay out a record dividend of PGK925 million.

However Ok Tedi Mining warned that the environmental impact of the mine may prove to be greater than previously understood. Areas of acid rock draining (ARD) began appearing on levees of the Fly river in February last year following a long dry period. The impacts are a “concern” but pose no direct threat to human health, the company said.

“We told the down river communities what the data were showing and that we thought it may get worse, and we widened the scope of our investigations for potential options for mitigating the ARD impacts. These investigations will be a priority for 2006,” Ok Tedi Mining’s md Keith Faulkner said in a statement.

Mining operations in the region are coming under increased scrutiny for their environmental and social impacts, most notably Newmont Mining’s operations in Buyat Bay, Indonesia and Freeport McMoran’s Grasberg copper mine, on the Indonesia-controlled part of Papua.

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