Ramu mine delivers empty tanks and empty promises

By Martyn Namorong

When the people of Ganglau and Mindre villages agreed to the industrialization of their land at Basamuk, Madang Province, they thought they would get;

An empty tank installed by Ramu Nico stands next to the rundown Aid Post at Ganglau Village, Basamuk, Rai Coast

  • Good Health care
  • A Primary School
  • Road linkage to Madang Town
  • Water supply
  • Power supply
  • Business opportunities
  • Employment opportunities

The people had good reason to believe that they would enjoy the above benefits as they were promised by the government and miners. Unfortunately, there has been very little progress.

The township that houses Chinese workers has been built in the catchment area of a nearby creek that provided drinking water for Mindre villagers. Sewerage from the township is drained into the creek. The creek has lost its flow and is slowly dying. Fish and eels that once inhabited the creek are gone.

Today the villagers of Mindre have to walk about 3 Km to the Yaganon River, to bathe, do their laundry and fetch drinking water. They have however noted a decrease in the water table around the Yaganon which they say is due to water extraction by Ramu Nico. The miner has six pumping stations located along the Yaganon River. Local leaders at Mindre village say that the Chinese and their Australian partner Highlands Pacific Ltd aren’t paying for the water they pump out of the Yaganon River.

The miners have set up one tank per village, which they connected to their water mains. However, a dispute with the company over monthly fees has meant that nothing flows into the tanks. The people do not want to pay the company for water which they say is being extracted free by the company.

The people have watched on the sidelines as their land was possessed and the processing facilities and associated structures erected. Power lines and water pipes run past their village to modern accommodation units while they live in bush material homes without electricity or water supply.

The sea is their last untouched resource. The coconut and cocoa plantations at Basamuk that once provided their income have been destroyed to clear the land for the Nickel/cobalt processing plant.

On Sunday 31st of July, they gathered under a mango tree at Mindre village to discuss the National Court Decision regarding Deep Sea Tailings. They cannot understand why their Provincial leaders were happy to see tailings being deposited into the ocean.

Many just don’t want to see the Chinese anymore. Incidents of stoning of company vehicles have increased. Company officials complained about this to the Police who then brought up the issue with villagers on Monday 1st of August. The village leaders told the police that such incidents are bound to continue as there is widespread resentment of the company.

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5 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

5 responses to “Ramu mine delivers empty tanks and empty promises

  1. Wesely

    Sounds like the Chinese are not complying the MOU or that the MOU itself needs to be redrafted, and, these issues are not being sent to the correct authorities.
    You should write to the MD of MRA (copy to manager environment) and express in clear and simple terms, you grievance.
    The MRA has the power to put a stop to this but if you just sit on your backsides complaining and don’t support correct governance process nothing CAN happen.
    Support a tight and strong regulatory process within the MRA and it, in turn, will support the people.
    This is the very purpose of the MRA, to deal with issues such as this.

  2. j kross

    MCC, having been stretched to the max in court should abide by its MOU commitments and comply with all Environment Plan approval conditions. It is in its own interest to be the good corporate citizen and to respect its ‘neighbour’s around Basamuk – even going out of its way to address some issues, gaining the peoples’ trust and confidence.

    The people must learn to live with their guest, establishing relationships and feed into the infrastructure in electricity, water supply etc., if only they show respect and work with MCC, things can be achieved. This winner takes all approach, ‘we’re saints, they’re demons’ fight-to-the-death mentality would end in disappointment and grief for many, if not all.

  3. Wesely

    j kross
    Exactly right.
    When one thinks about it it appears that the Ramu Plaintiffs lawyers have really denied their own clients an opportunity to fix the whole systemic problem and have just created more problems in the process.
    Its been such a futile and pointless process.
    The Ramu Plaintiffs never went to the MRA and tried to work within a potentially fruitful system of governance and are completely on te wrong track.
    The judge too was irresponsible and partisan and acted with absolute ignorance in allowing the Plaintiffs the injunction, it seems as if the Judge knew nothing of government process and regulatory systems.
    If the citizens of PNG don’t support their own government and due process then they can’t complain.
    Its only with that support that things can be better.
    I am feeling less and less sympathetic toward the Ramu Plaintiffs, they are very much a part of the problem if they don’t work within the system of governance and support it !
    Tiffany Nongoor and Charles Roach have been totally irresponsible in the way they have promoted a senseless litigation and have (typically) just acted to promote a conflict without thinking through the fundamentals.
    She has denied her clients a real chance to get a real long term solution and merely muddied the waters.
    The REMARKABLE OUTCOME of the litigation (which makes the trial Judge look like a total idiot) is that neither the His Honore Judge nor the Plaintiffs have seen that the so called “catastrophic environmental damage” they claim will happen is not inevitable if regulatory process is in place and such systems are supported by all parties.
    The whole litigation has been driven by outsiders who seek an idealogical end with no capacity for bringing real change in standards to PNG.
    They have a lot to answer for.

  4. tom

    stupid,how you stupid guys want to stop the mining and let the mining company to improve your life level

  5. Pingback: Social Concerns Notes – August 2011 | Social Concerns

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