Chinese mine project faces growing opposition in Papua New Guinea
Local landowners shut down water supply in protest
A highly-controversial plan, to pipe tailings from a Papua New Guinea nickel-cobalt mine into the sea, continues being pushed forward.
Meanwhile, dissatisfied at the terms of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between themselves and the government, a group of local landowners shut down the mine's water supply earlier this month.
The mine owners plan to use the highly controverisal "submarine tailings disposal" method, to deal with the project's wastes. This is the despite growing evidence that the "technology" is fraught with potential environmental hazards. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9192
Already there have been allegations that the mine’s product slurry pipeline will endanger settlements along an important road. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9292
The Ramu nickel project is majority-owned by a group of Chinese companies, headed by MCC (Metallurgical Group Corporation of China) with a minority shareholding by Highlands Pacific, and a smaller one by the Madang landowners group.
Binatrari landowners shut down Ramu nickel, cobalt mine water supply
By JEFFREY ELAPA, PNG National
8 January 2009
THE source that supplies water to the huge Ramu nickel and cobalt mine at Kurumbukari in the Madang province was shut down by disgruntled landowners over the New Year period.
Provincial government's mining coordinator, John Bivi, told The National that the Binatrari landowners of the water easement areas of the Kurumbukari nickel and cobalt mine had forcefully shut the taps to the mine over several outstanding issues.
They are demanding a share of royalties and wanted a separate MoA to be signed between the developer, the State and the water easement areas.
They said at present, they were totally out of the special mine lease area.
It is believed that the Mineral Resource Authority and the Environment and Conservation Department met with the landowners to discuss and address the issues, but failed to honour the outstanding issues ,forcing the landowners to stop water supply to the mine.
Mr Bivi said the landowners, without understanding that the water is owned by the State, had gone ahead to shut down water supply disrupting progress at the mine.
A letter written by the provincial administrator had asked the landowners to immediately allow the usage of the water to the mine and not to jeopardise the progress and development of the construction phase of the mine before the commissioning early this year.
Mine's plan irks leaders
By ROSALYN EVARA, Postcourier
18 January 2010
CLAN leaders at Basamuk in Madang Province are worried about the underwater blasting operation that the developers of the Ramu nickel mine are proposing.
Spokesman of the Tong and Ongeg clans of Basamuk, Lois Medaing Gorongo, said the sea is the peoples' source of livelihood and he feared this would be affected if the operation was allowed to continue.
Mr Gorongo said for years, the people had been living off the reefs in the area and refuted claims by the company that the reefs they proposed to blast were dead.
"...There are no dead reefs in the area, our reefs are alive and healthy and have been dwelling places for fish and other sea creatures, which we have and continue to depend on it for our livelihood," he said.
He, Gorongo, said the exercise should not be allowed to go ahead as it was against the proposed mine tailings management plan, and urged that other options be pursued.
"We maintain that the Government should not allow the mine waste to be dumped into our sea. We made this clear during the International Deep Sea Tailing Placement Conference, which was hosted in Madang in 2008. We would like the option of a land tailings dam to be pursued and are prepared to make land available," he said.
Mr Gorongo said the exercise should be stopped temporarily as there were land-disputes that were yet to be settled. He said work had been stalled for some time and claimed that it was improper for the company to continue its operations.
Meanwhile attempts to contact the various sources from MCC to verify the claims have been unsuccessful.
The provincial mines officer, John Bivi said his office did not have any data to assist. An officer from the World Wide Fund for Nature said the information would be contained in an impact assessment report and referred the paper to the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). An officer there said she was not aware of the plans.
owever she said the "person to talk to was not around." Mineral Resources Authority's acting managing director Phillip Samar said all environmental issues were being handled by DEC but the office would be releasing a statement on their position on the matter.