Despite attempts by the mining company to stop them going into the witness box, five further plaintiff’s – all landowners from along the Madang coastline – gave evidence about their concerns for the environment and their subsistence lifestyles if the waste dumping from the Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea is allowed.
Lawyers for the mining company, MCC, argued the plaintiff’s did not need to give oral evidence and the judge could just read their affidavits. The lawyers had obviously been unnerved by the sincerity and bon-fides of the first two plaintiff’s who gave evidence on Tuesday afternoon – who came across as mature, decent and genuinely concerned for the future of their communities – and wanted to avoid any further reinforcement of the plaintiff’s cause.
But the judge agreed with the plaintiff’s lawyer that each plaintiff needed to go into the witness box, at least to identify their affidavit, and could be asked further questions.
In the event, 5 plaintiff’s (Caspar Angua, Martin D Yagau, James Singai, Kamanang Namur and Paul Kamang) gave evidence and were cross-examined. Each remained resolute that they did not want to see thier people’s land and sea destroyed by dumping the mine waste in the sea.
After the lunch break Justice Cannings read out his lengthy decision on the application by a further 998 new landowners to be joined as parties to the proceedings in opposition to the marine waste dumping.
The judge allowed all 998 landowners to join.
The rest of the afternoon was taken up with the evidence and cross examination of the principal plaintiff, Louis Medaing. Like his fellow plaintiff’s he remained calm and was resolute in his opposition to the waste dumping.
On Thursday, 10 February, the scientific evidence will begin with the plaintiff’s case being supported first by an ecologist, an oceanographer and a marine geochemist.