By Oseah Philemon
A Department of Environment and Conservation team which conducted investigations into the Markham River dead fish report says the Hidden Valley gold mine is not responsible for the death of fish species found along the Markham River and the Labu area last week.
The department’s technical adviser Goro Asigau who is leading the two – man team with departmental lawyer Benjamin Passingan told the Post-Courier yesterday their investigations over the weekend confirmed that there was no chemical spill or discharge from the mine into the river system that could have led to the dead fish being found along the Markham River as reported by the Labu people. Mr Asigau said the department receives weekly reports from the mine which shows that the quality of water discharged from the mine is within the required PNG standards.
The DEC does not conduct its own independent assessment of the water condition from the mine and relies entirely on the mining company to provide it with information on a weekly basis.
The department has issued two different permits to the mine – the Water Discharge Permit which specifies the accepted standards of water quality being discharged from the mine and the Water Extraction Permit which specifies the amount of water the mine can get for its usage.
Mr Asigau said the team – having confirmed that the source of the deaths of the fish was not the mine – then conducted an aerial survey of other areas in the Bulolo District. The hired helicopter was paid for by the mining company.
The team flew over the Kumalu River where there were heavy mud flows as well as the Banir and Langimar rivers where at least 10 different landslips had been observed in the catchments of the two rivers.
He said their preliminary conclusions were that the landslips may have caused dams in the area to burst and empty material into the river systems which may have been responsible for the deaths of the fish.