Marengo’s mine will dump even more waste in the sea

While the controversy rages on over whether the Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine should be allowed to dump 100 million tonnes of mine waste in the pristine marine waters off Madang, an even larger second mine is being planned that will dump even more waste in the same seas.

Marengo Mining is understandably keeping very quiet at the moment about its proposed Yandera copper mine, just inland from the Ramu nickel mine site.

Marengo has been drilling extensively at Yandera to define the extent of the resource – as is shown in this company video – and expects to complete its advance feasibility study by the end of this year.

Marengo says it intends to run a slurry pipeline with crushed ore from the mine to a concentrator on the coast.  Initially at a rate of 25 million tonnes per year. That is already five times the volume of the Ramu nickel mine and Marengo anticipates the tonnage will get even greater in the future after start–up.

Various studies and promotions from Marengo “indicate” a total resource of between 700 million and 1.3 billion tons and their concession holds other “prospects” they say.

At the upper indicated resource level, combined with the 20 year 100 million tons of mine waste from the Chinese Ramu nickel operations the poor Rai Coast landowners will be getting a huge 1.4 billions tons of toxic, heavy metal laden mine waste dumped into Astrolabe Bay and the Vitiaz Strait.  This is equal to what Newmont Nusa Teggarra’s Batu Hijau mine on Sumbawa in Indonesia will dump into the marine environment there over 25 years (Newmont dumps 160,000 tons per day.)

This means the current debate over what the impacts of the Chinese Ramu mine will be are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what will happen in the future to people’s lives, communities, fisheries, and sustainable marine ecosystems.



Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights

21 responses to “Marengo’s mine will dump even more waste in the sea

  1. Disaster in the waiting! That is why this current fight against DSTP is important. The Yandera ore body is of sulphide origin which is different to the laterite deposits of Kurumbukari. The sulphide tailings (like the Ok Tedi case) if exposed to air are potentially acid generating and will be much more troublesome. Marengo will have to be assisted by the Govt to really consider alternative waste management option like that recently (in 2008) commissioned at Ok Tedi where tailings are buried and covered up underground, the surface layer is then rehabilitated with rubber or whatever cash crops, thus isolating the ARD potential. This is totally different to the construction of a tailings dam which has potentially high risks associated with it.
    They should consider securing land on the Ramu valley (above water-table) to do that.

  2. madang watcher

    We wait for new mines minister. Temu has been dumped with his DSTP.

  3. Fed up

    marengo and every other mine must be watched carefully just as ramu is. thanks Ramu Nickel Mine Watch for posting this and raising awareness on the issue. without sounding like anti mining hooligans, we can scrutinise the activities of miners in a responsible manner so as to protect our people.

    we as Papua New Guineans are better placed to understand and make the linkages between our way of life and the part that our natural environment plays. there must be balanced development if we are to properly build and sustain our country into the future. and you are playing an important role in ensuring that the balance is there. keep up the good work!

  4. dexter bland

    There’s not much danger of this or development of any kind happening in PNG in until the country sorts out some fundamental issues to do with governance, the constitution and role of the judiciary. This has gone way beyond the specific issues of Ramu and DSTP.

    The initial legal challenge to the DSTP showed that the government has no power to authorize a development or grant a permit. So they passed a law to give them that power, now that has been challenged as unconstitutional. Now in the last week the Supreme Court has struck down a law that previously enabled them to form a stable government, as unconstitutional.

    To someone wanting to develop a project it now appears that the government (whoever they happen to be on that day) has no power to authorize work, no power to make laws, and may not even be in government the next day. There’s no tenure, no certainty of your property or business. You can view it as anarchy, or the triumph of the individual over society, depending on your bias.

    For democracies to be successful, governments need to enact laws and make decisions (even unpopular ones) and people need the power to vote them out after an appropriate period. Its necessarily a balancing act and needs a pragmatic approach. The situation the courts have created in PNG is unworkable. Their interpretation of constitutional issues seems to be about taking all power for themselves, presumably on the basis that the government can’t be trusted, or isn’t acting in the interests of one party or another.

    Well someone has to be trusted to find the right balance. All developments be they mines, roads, schools or hospitals, have impacts both positive and negative on different individuals and groups. Who is to decide where the line is to be drawn? Should any individual have the right to stop a development if it is for the good of everyone else. Should judges be the ones to determine the right balance? They are neither elected, nor experts in the subject matter. They are there to interpret the law, not make it, nor to consider arguments on environmental science, economics or development issues.

    Previously I thought it would have been a good thing to have an impartial view on the DSTP come from a judge. Now I realize that this seemed an easy way to get around the deficit of trust in government officials, but very detrimental to a functional democracy.

    People need to take responsibility for electing and overseeing their government, and the government needs the power to make decisions. Anything else will lead to an extremely dysfunctional country that goes backwards in development as individual interests invariably triumph over the greater good through court rulings purporting to defend their rights.

    These aren’t at all new issues in the history of democracy but I guess they are for PNG and have their own flavour. I hope both the government (whoever they are) and opposition (whoever they are) can sit down and work through some of these bigger issues to present a united view on constitutional issues.

    • Tanirau


      As things are now, the goverment can’t be trusted and it is dysfunctional. What we, the people, need to do now is to circle the wagons, keep total control over our land, rivers and seas and wait, who knows how long, until the government can be trusted. We are a nation of individuals, who make up individual families, who make up indivdual clans, who make up individual tribes, etc, etc. The “greater good” and the “development” of which you write have always been defined by outsiders such as yourself. It is now the time for us to define these things things in our own, Melanesian, consensual way. And that takes time, maybe it will take a long time, but the issues are too important to be rushed. As long as the land grows food and the seas give us fish, we have that time.


      • dexter bland

        In an ideal world perhaps everyone could just be left to get on with their lives without interference from outsiders. The unfortunate reality is that if you have something that outsiders want then they will get it one way or another and a nation of individuals has no power to stop them or ensure they get a fair share . If you don’t have a strong central government that negotiates with and authorizes legitimate businesses, then you will have to deal with with illegal fisherman with no respect for quotas, loggers with no respect for sustainability, and artisanal miners who will cause far worse environmental, health and security problems than large mines – and with no compensation or care whatsoever for local landowners.

        PNG could easily become an anarchic wasteland under gang rule. Drug smuggling, people smuggling and resource plunder will become the way of life. In places this kind of thing already happens, but that isn’t because there is a central government, its because it isn’t strong enough.

      • Fed up

        Tanirau said it exactly as I would have myself. well said!

        the so called central government that dexter bland is pushing is completely incapable of protecting and furthering our ‘collective’ good so we are standing up as individual groups to protect what is rightfully ours. but what dexter blind doesn’t know is that opposition by ‘individual’ groupings such as the one by Basamuk land owners has substantial buy in from all four corners of our country. only that the majority of our people don’t speak and write your fancy english language to come out and express themselves so you can understand.

  5. watchman

    dexter, your comments strike me as being loaded with bias. I doubt you’ve read the supreme court’s decision on OLIPAC. If you have, then obviously you don’t appreciate its reasons (or perhaps refuse to do so). The OLIPAC law was unconstitutional because it deprived a member of his/her constitutional right to vote according to their own conscience. The sections of OLIPAC that were found to be unconstitutional required members to “toe the line” on every party resolution, regardless of whether it offended their own God-given conscience. Plainly that’s putting party before national interest and it’s deplorable. In western democracies (which we in the “third world” are told to emulate) it is common for members of parliament to ‘cross the floor’ on issues to which they are opposed. Malcolm Turnbull did it recently against his own party on the issue of climate change. We need this type of balance in politics so that misguided party agenda does not dictate the national interest. To suggest that the supreme court has done anything other than interpret the law is ridiculous in the extreme. Our judicial system is the only democratic institution in PNG that is preventing our country from falling into complete anarchy. People have the right to challenge decisions which affect their livelihood – yet the govt has tried time and time again to deliberately stifle meaningful debate by issuing illegal decrees that stop the matter from being publicly discussed (allegedly because it is “sub judice”). This type of dictatorial Zimbabwe-style politics spits in the face of every democratic ideal that is contained and protected in our constitution and we will not accept it. Courts can and do consider evidence on science, economics and the environment (usually through expert witnesses). The whole body of tort law relies largely on this judicial function. You, Dexter, appear to be pro-DSTP because you are more concerned about your own profit, rather than the lasting detriment it may cause to traditional villagers. Perhaps you should visit the now heavily contaminated Fly River and eat some of the fish that swim in it (if indeed there are any remaining)? If you survive that ordeal then, maybe, perhaps maybe, we can sit down and have a rationale, common sense, discussion about sustainable, mutually-beneficial development. Right now your pro-DSTP bias indicates that you are incompetent to hold a balanced, impartial view. If the rule of law is being upheld by our courts then to me they’re doing a damn fine job.

  6. madang watcher

    Dexter Bland sounds a desperate MRA mole. No Temu to lie and protect MRA any more. Law is there to be followed. Temu did not follow law to remove MRA. Instead MRA has got him removed. Opposition to MRA is building up at our mines. Law on MRA is unconstitutional and that is the root of problem at Ramu mine. DSTP is a cover and a decoy by lawyers for MRA. What will the QCs do now that the Supreme Court has ruled to apply the precautionary principle? We live in interesting times Dexter Bland!

  7. AM

    Dexter, would you please use more sh*t, arse, pi*s, ti*s, the single letter a, the single letter c, so Fed Up can understand what you are saying.

    • Fed up

      so what’s your point am??

      • AM

        Dexter is attempting to put his case, and whether I or you agree with it is not critcal, but sometimes words of 4 letters have to be used.

        It is not “fancy English” to use words of more that 4 letters. If people cannot understand words of more than four letters, then get a dictionary.

      • Fed up

        my reference to english language as ‘fancy’ wasn’t meant to be taken literally as you obviously have.

        what i meant was for the barrier that a fancy foreign language called english is having on our people’s ability to communicate their feelings on certain issues including DSTP and be understood properly. our people perfectly understand the issues but have difficulty expressing themselves while some fancy english speaking hooligans are taking us for a ride. mate we are not stupid. just because we can’t express ourselves properly in english doesn’t mean we are stupid.

        go back and read the word in the context of what was said and you’ll understand its meaning. otherwise go back to some reasoning school. on the same token, i’ll leave it to you to work out why people like me are using 4 letter words.

  8. j kross

    You cannot compare DSTP to the Fly River or Gulf of Mexico oil spill. That is padding and argument with unrelated disasters of completely different operations and incidents not related in any way to DSTP. DSTP is still the safe tailings option unless the environmentalist religion has brainwashed people into rejecting all mining as evil. Malcolm Turnbull was turfed out because he supported a hoax, the science of man-made climate change science that is becoming increasingly suspect and many are questioning its veracity. I personally rejected global warming as soon as it became an ‘issue’. DSTP is still safe and it will not affect peoples livelihood like the scale in Fly River as the waste will not be dumped on the surface, it will be injected below the water column to safer levels.

  9. watchman

    j kross, of course there are always going to be pros and cons about mining – nobody disputes that. The Fly river is a clear example of a tailings system gone hopelessly wrong (in spite of all the glossy scientific reports that assured us the contrary). BHP fled the scene as soon as things got hairy. Who was left to pick up the pieces? Certainly not BHP (our own Govt enacted legislation to ensure that). An entire ecosystem has been destroyed and the lives of literally thousands have been made to pay for it. We have every right to draw lessons from the Fly river disaster. Don’t turn the debate into a climate change issue when it isn’t…. Clearly the focus needs be on what’s best in the long term for the people of Rai coast and the wider PNG community. If it means abandoning the DSTP option then so be it. There has to be a balance of interests.

    • j kross

      Hey Watchman, you don’t seem to watch your own words do you? You dragged climate change and Malcolm Turnbull in here, not me. Scroll back up.

  10. madang watcher

    Marengo will have tough legal issues compared to Ramu mine. Core issue at Ramu mine approval of construction phase MRA gave the mine in 2007. It will be protected under Environment Act Amendment of 2010. DSTP law is ok. Duly mandated regulator approved it. Marengo will not obtain any valid licence for mining.
    Guess why? Em… Arr… Aye… Yes, MRA!
    Role of MRA is critical to environmental safety. Marine Minerals Service has been revamped and its head chopped. Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico is BPs fault as much as MMS. Ofcourse oil and tailings are different matter. When all is said and done MRA will be removed as its Minister who protected it has gone bushtracking to no where!

  11. watchman

    Thanks j kross but clearly you’ve missed the point. My allusion to Mal Turnbull was simply to illustrate how members must vote according to their own conscience (however well or badly informed their judgement is). For some reason you’ve morphed it into a debate about climate change when clearly that’s not where the focus ought to lie.

  12. j kross

    No morphing mate, same propaganda different factions; the environment, man-made global warming, it’s all mass hysteria when science is misrepresented for propaganda and DSTP has been unfairly lined up with Ok Tedi and all other disasters. I know where I’m at, don’t patronise me. Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull have both been victims of mass hysteria, global warming, ETS, anti mining environmentalism hype, I’ve worked this beast out. Most still can’t tell the head from the tail.

  13. watchman

    Alright j kross, go ahead and talk about climate change if that’s what works best for you.

  14. Pingback: Madang to be hit with second tailings pipe « Ramu Nickel Mine Watch

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