By Harlyne Joku
The suspension of Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) was lifted last Friday, enabling the mine to resume operations after almost a month of closure.
The decision was made at a debrief on Friday by a ministerial delegation who visited the OTML’s pyrite pipeline spillage areas and assessed the clean up measures taken by the mine on Thursday since the pipeline ruptures began on May 6 this year. The State team signed a change notice which agreed that operations at the mine should resume and the mine to compensate the people affected by the pyrite spillage and build two tailings disposal dams.
The ministerial delegation, comprising Mining Minister John Pundari, Environment Minister Benny Allen, North Fly MP Boka Kondra and Mineral Resources Authority officer in charge Phillip Samar, Secretary and Deputy Secretary for Environment and Conservation Dr Wari Iamo and Michael Wau, Deputy Secretary for Mining Shadrach Himata, First Secretary for Mining Simeon Wai, First Secretary to Environment Minister John Aruga, MRA Coordinator James Top and the Western Province Administrator William Goinau.
Mr Allen confirmed the lifting of the suspension, saying that the mine shall resume and adhere to strict conditions. The first condition is that OTML must pay compensation to the communities in the affected areas of the 128 kilometer pipeline and for OTML to build two tailings disposal dams at the mine site.
While the dam is being built, the company will dispose its waste down the Ok Tedi River and stockpile the pyrite at the mine site.
Mr Allen said there will be two studies conducted by the mine and an independent consultant before the amount to be paid for compensation is determined. Communities at Ningerum and Matkomnai demanded to be compensated for the water environment damages. They called on the multi-billion kina Ok Tedi Mine to cease operations when the ministerial delegation visited the pyrite rupture areas and communities along the Tabubil Kiunga Highway last Thursday.