MAC: Mines and Communities

Petition about the Ramu submarine tailings disposal

Published by MAC on 2010-03-02
Source: The PNG National (2010-02-28)

Previously on MAC we have reported on the highly-controversial plan, to pipe tailings from a Papua New Guinea nickel-cobalt mine into the sea. See

Submarine tailings disposal is a controversial and - depending on jurisdiction - illegal technology that is dependent on two conditions for satisfactory operation: a deep ocean trough and a substantial thermal cline (the difference in temperature between the bottom and the surface of the ocean).

The two together are supposed to prevent the mixing of the tailings layer with the rest of the ocean. Its efficacy is questionable even under these conditions.

However, the Rai coast exhibits neither of these characteristics and consequently the Ramu pipeline can be expected to cause massive damage along the coastal reefs -- an area of high marine biodiversity, of importance to local subsistence and commercial fisheries, and home to one of the world's few tropical marine fjords.

Please sign a petition at:-

Say good bye to Karkar's reef and Madang's fishery while you can

The PNG National

15 February 2010

THE National Government has approved the design and construction of deep-sea tailing pipe (DSTP) for Madangs Ramu nickel and cobalt project, Ramu NiCo (MCC) has announced. The Environment and Conservation Department (DEC) and Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) gave the approval, the miner said in a statement. MCC issued the statement in response to comments on DSTP and the blasting of corals along the route of its planned waste disposal pipeline using high explosives. Fisheries Minister Ben Semri and Governor Sir Arnold Amet, in a joint media conference, said as leaders of the province, they wanted all environmental impact and social obligations made known to the people with consistent consultation among stakeholders.

They also pledged not to support activities associated with the blasting of coral life due to their harsh impact on marine life.

The blasting was planned to be operated this month and next month by a PNG licenced blaster.

It would be carried out within an area of 50m long and 5m wide, with two blasts each operating day.

Meanwhile, Ramu NiCo said all environmental impacts were never done in isolation and DEC and MRA were aware of the progress including the implementation plans. Ramu NiCo said Brass-Resan-Candive, an American-Canadian Joint Venture contractor with vast experience in the engineering, procurement and construction of submarine tailing disposal facilities for international resources projects, had been contracted to carry out the Ramu DSTP.

The company said it would continue to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure Ramu DSTP was built according to high industry standard and best practices. They said to minimise the environmental impact of tailings disposal of Ramu refinery at Basamuk, the neutralised wastes would be secured 150m undersea through the DSTP system and will include two pipelines with diameter of 800mm that will be laid on sea floor.

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