By Harlyne Joku*
One more spillage and the Simberi gold mine will be completely shut down, the director of Environment Dr Wari Iamo warned yesterday. Dr Iamo said the leakage incident at the mine’s mix tailings disposal system in the New Ireland Province in March spoke volumes of the strength of the current deep sea disposal system in place.
“We hope this is the first and last spillage of this nature and we hope the entire system is protected. They must take this incident and our warning seriously and operate with care,” Dr Iamo said.
He gave the warning yesterday after members of the Environment Council met the same day and reviewed his (Dr Iamo’s) decision to issue an Environment Protection Order (EPO) against the company on March 16. The Council, headed by temporary chairman addressing the Simberi slurry discharge case, Dr Simon Saulei, decided to lift the order after submissions from Simberi lawyers and independent invesigator Cardno Acil.
The company reported a leakage in its mixed tailings disposal system in early March to the Department of Environment and Conservation and advised it was doing its best to stop the leakage. The DEC acted swiftly and sent its officers to investigate.
For the first time ever in the history of DEC and its monitoring of mining operations, the director issued an Environment Protection Order (EPO) on March 16 stopping the operation of the mine to allow for an independent investigation. Dr Saulei said the company lawyers made a convincing submission to the council yesterday that the company had complied with the requirements of the EPO.
* First published in the Post Courier