Landowners get temporary injunction to stop construction work

Indigenous landowners described as “ignorant” by lawyers acting for the Chinese Ramu nickel mine have pulled off an enormous victory by securing a temporary court injunction to stop work on the mine’s submarine tailings disposal system.

The Chinese Metalurgival Construction company (MCC) plans to dump 5 million tons of hot tailings into Basamuk Bay in Madang Province every year and was about to start blasting coral reefs to allow the laying of the tailings pipeline.

But local landowners are suing the mine company and the State for gross public and private nuisance and breaches of the Environment Act and two weeks ago they applied for interim injunctions to prevent any further construction work on the tailings disposal system.

On Friday (19th March) the National Court granted temporary injunctions forcing MCC “and their Associates, agents and employees to cease all preparatory work on the Ramu Nickel Mine deep sea tailings placement system that involves directly or indirectly damage or disturbance to the offshore environment – including all coral blasting or popping of dead or live coral and laying of pipes - and shall not carry out directly or indirectly any such work, pending determination of the substantive proceedings.”

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11 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Mine construction

11 responses to “Landowners get temporary injunction to stop construction work

  1. Tevita

    Congratulations to all involved!

    Keep pushing to ensure no environmental best practice standards are being compromised in the rush to make money.

    Experience tells us that mines such as this will go one day leaving behind their legacy without any sense of responsibility to PNG, her environment and the livelihood of its people.

  2. Jox

    Pray that good will always triumph over evil! We need to educate our people more on the issues like this so that they can react. I don’t think they are ignorant as supposedly claimed by those lawyers. They will be victors eventually.

  3. dexter bland

    Do those posting on this site believe that mining in general is a bad thing, or just that a specific issue needs more attention? It seems to me the former. I suspect couching this in terms of a battle of good versus evil reveals some ulterior motives of their own organizations. Perhaps it is in their own interests to keep the people of PNG impoverished and part of their flock, dependent forever on the charity provided by the organizations which they serve.

    This particular case raises serious concerns for all investors in the PNG economy (whose comparative economic advantage lies in its natural resources). Though the environment must be looked after, the rights of local people respected and their wealth enhanced, investors expect that this will happen through due process and not reneged on after the investment has been committed.

    I’m sure that there will be many who would be content to see PNG remain in the stone age but it isn’t the view of their elected government. I understand that past experience with mining may not have been so happy, but in more recent times there are numerous examples of mining providing great benefits to the people of developing nations. This action may jeopardize all future investment in the country, should it succeed, and set back the progress of PNG’s development.

    • Tevita

      dexter bland,

      you appear to be one of those many confused people who are easily misled by cash and material things of other cultures. if you are a papua new guinean, than it is really sad to see you think in the way that you are thinking.

      we define wealth very differently to the westerners and that is what we are protecting. we may be cash poor but we are definitely wealthy in our own rights. and cash can NEVER EVER buy the full value of the wealth that we have.

      our lands, rivers, forests, seas and the natural environment provide that wealth for us in plentiful and we MUST NOT allow these to be destroyed in the mad rush for cash.

      • dexter bland

        I’m not opposed to giving local people the opportunity to reject development on their land and go on living a traditional lifestyle if they wish. I also agree that the environment should also be respected. But there needs to be a balance between the rights of local landowners and the needs of the broader community. I am not talking about fast cars and jewelery for the few, but the basic human needs of health, education, housing, and the rule of law. All of these cost money, and the vast majority of this (that isn’t aid) comes from mining.

        Mining inevitably involves compromise but it is possible to mine in a way that limits environmental damage and looks after the interests of locals. These compromises need to be resolved through due process prior to development, not after the mine has already been built. This may deter investors in both existing and future projects.

    • Ptriot Missile aimed at MCC

      For this particular project, the bad outweighs to the “good.”

      Here are the facts:
      1) Dumping of 100 million tons of tailings into Basamuk bay is risky because heavily metal poison which will inevitably happen.

      2) Labour conditions of workers are terrible. You don’t see such conditions in other mines in PNG.

      3) The influx of Chinese workers is a problem in itself. How many Chinese workers will want to go back to their country and the mine reaches its end? Won’t happen, my friend!

      4) According to a previous post on this blog, the company with the help of our own government are forcing people of their traditional land.

      5) We’re seeing breach after breach of our laws and nothing is being done about it.

      What is wrong with bringing in 1.4 billion US dollars worth of tourism investment into Madang?

      What is wrong with getting an investor to spend 1.4 billion US dollars to build good roads into Basamuk and encouraging people to grow cocoa and establishing a chocolate factory?

      As I said the people are going to gain very little from this project and when all this is over, people in the resource area will be worse off because THE CHINAMAN DOES NOT CARE ONE FRIGGING BIT!!

  4. No one is against mining and petroleum projects in this country but, what must be made clear is that environmental, health, safety traditional lands and the livelihood of indigenous peoples must be respeted and properly compensated for and not simply trashed for the sake of wealth for a few.

    In regard to the dumping of tailings and blasting of coral reef, the landowners have the right to refuse, regardless of what was said at the International Conference. If the landowners decide otherwise, then this is their perogative and MCC must find other alternatives. On this note, well done and congratulations to the Landowners and Tiffinay Nonggorr.

    As for the 4 Chairman that signed the press release in today’s (25 March 2010) edition of the “National” newspaper, shame on you for follwing the crowd. It is clear that you don’t have the balls to stand up and make your own assessment of the entire situation for the long term. One really wonders what you have for brains to accept everything as gospel and not carry out your independent assessments. What kind of Chairmen are you!! On that note, have you considered all the other disasters that occuring at the mines site and elsewhere? Please open your eyes and serve your communities without fear or favour.

  5. Zhane

    Economic growth and environmental sustainability do not have to be polarised issues. Obviously serious breaches of the existing laws of PNG have occurred here. To avoid such so called ignorance, the local landowners should have been consulted and their views sort before those sitting at Waigani decided to give the go ahead. COMMUNICATE with the people, don’t just assume that they don’t or won’t understand. In addition to this, why enact such legislation such as the Environment Act if if we can’t use them to guide such development.

  6. Marc Duffy

    To Dexter Bland ….just a small coment on your coment on the expence of the need of the rule of law etc… The very fact that you claim the rule of law is a nessacary cost and at the same time asdefend criminal neglect of the environment!!! I don’t think protecting the environment is a catch 22 interms that in this millinium there should at least be a concious decoupling of environmental degradation and gross domestic product or profit..those that think otherwise are in for a short sharp shock….!!!

  7. dabbie

    Excellent Job Tiffiany Nongorr and a good call by Judge Cannings!

  8. liam

    aren’t PNG’s laws to blame and not MCC? If the projects like this pose too much of a risk to the environment and aren’t in PNG’s best interests, then how was MCC granted approvals from all relevant authorities? why make MCC out to be the bad guy when clearly its the approval system thats really at fault?

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