LIVE FROM MADANG: Justice Canning sitting in the National Court in Madang has refused an application by indigenous landholders for a permanent injunction preventing the marine dumping of toxic waste from the Ramu nickel mine.
The judge said that although the landholders did have standing, had established that there was a serious likelihood of irreversible harm that would constitute both a public and private nuisance and that the dumping would breach the National Goals and Directive Principles in Papua New Guinea’s Constitution, he was refusing the application for a permanent injunction.
Justice Canning gave as his reasons for refusing the plaintiff’s application their delay in bringing a court action, the fact the marine dumping has been approved by the government and the economic consequences for the mining company and investor confidence if the marine dumping was stopped.
The landholders legal challenge was the second court case attempting to prevent the marine waste dumping. The first trial was abandoned last year in circumstances the judge described as suspicious when the initial plaintiff’s withdrew their case citing fears for their personal safety. However, hundreds of other landholders then stepped forward to reinstate the proceedings and a full trial was held in February.
On one side in this David versus Goliath legal case was the Chinese State owned corporation, MCC, its junior partner, Australian based Highlands Pacific, and the State of Papua New Guinea on the other, a thousand or so indigenous landowners from rural villages that have very few basic services.
Three weeks ago the Chinese Ambassador to PNG visited PNG’s acting Prime Minister to discuss the Ramu nickel mine.