Shimmield and SAMS losing their aura of independence?

Dr Tracy Shimmield, and her employer, the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), entered the debate over the proposed sea dumping of waste from the Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea with an aura of scientific independence and bona fides that seems to be slowly slipping away as observers ask whether they are in fact just another hired gun for the mining industry.

SAMS was originally contracted by the PNG government to conduct an independent evaluation of marine waste dumping of mine tailings in PNG. The study was paid for by the European Union, under its Mining Sector Support Program, and initially comprised evaluations of the impacts of both the Lihir and Misima mines. This brief was later extended to include a baseline survey of the proposed Ramu dumping site.

The SAMS report, which the the PNG government has never released, concluded that the marine dumping of mine waste “has major impacts on deep-sea sediments and their biological communities and the effects persist for at least three years after tailings discharge has ended. Where it is incorrectly designed or badly managed [the dumping] can also cause serious damage to coastal resources and, potentially, communities.”

Shimmield, who was the reports principal author, followed up these findings with an affidavit in which she said a minimum of 12 months of further oceanographic studies was needed bfore any decision could be made on whether the proposed Ramu mine dumping would be safe. This affidavit so disturbed lawyers for the government and Ramu mining company, MCC, that they dropped plans to call Shimmield as at a witness in a case to decide if the Ramu mine waste dumping would be illegal.

That legal case was subsequently postponed until February, but since then, with no further scientific studies completed, Shimmield and SAMS seems to have shifted their position. Now, they are reported as saying only 4 months of studies are required to decide if the dumping will be safe, and the Ramu mine should be allowed to commission its waste pipeline so the impacts can be monitored.

Shimmield and SAMS also raised eyebrows in December when they presented their report findings in a formal seminar for government representatives at which MCC was also present and allowed to present its opinions, while affected communities and their scientific experts where not invited.

What can have caused Shimmield, who is Associate Director of Business Development for SAMS, to change her position and to allow SAMS to be seen as granting privileges to one side of the debate?

Lets hope it is not the fact they have been given lucrative new government contracts to develop site specific dumping guidelines for the Lihir and Ramu mines and the contract to do oceanographic studies at Basamuk.

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3 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

3 responses to “Shimmield and SAMS losing their aura of independence?

  1. j kross

    Shimmield should have stated the scientific fact that DSTP will have little or no impact on marine life instead of trying to please everyone by assumming superficial neutrality. You cannot dress up slanted environmentalism as science. It will always wear off. It is a scientific fact that the marine environment in question has been receiving natural sedimentation over thousands of years and Ramu Mine’s contribution is a drop in the ocean. The tropical ocean environment’s robust resilience to normalcy as evidenced in Misima runs contrary to pronouncements of doom and gloom by environmental religionists . The culture of suppressing true science to appease enviromental religionists smacks of the Climategate arrogance that shook up Copenhagen and killed the global warming hype in Cancun when truth and reason finally showed up.

  2. Richard Blake

    Shimmield is a scientist not a stake holder
    She is obviously feared down in Wiagani and by MCC.
    Thats why the John Pundari and the PNG government stopped her from giving evidence at the hearing…………….

  3. DEC

    There is also that corrupt S^um B#g Australian lawyer that MCC hiresd as a consultant who ignored due process and the law and engaged in a scheme to buy off land owners in the first hearing and put preasue on all parties in this matter to the point where no rational voice would be heard.
    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely……the fools, oh the fools

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