Papua New Guinea leads the world in mine pollution of waterways

In February we reported on an investigation by Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada that reveals mining companies dump more than 180 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste each year into rivers, lakes, and oceans worldwide, threatening vital bodies of water with toxic heavy metals and other chemicals poisonous to humans and wildlife.

But what has not previously been highlighted is that of the world’s waters that are suffering the greatest harm or are at greatest risk from dumping of mine waste – six out of twelve are in Papua New Guinea!

The offending mines are are Ok Tedi, Porgera, Ramu nickel, Lihir, Simberi and Tolukuma.


Just a shocking is the fact three of PNG’s mines are among the six worst water polluting mines in the world!

Mine processing wastes, also known as tailings, can contain as many as three dozen dangerous chemicals including arsenic, lead, mercury and processing chemicals such as petroleum byproducts, acids and cyanide. Waste rock, the extra rock that does not contain significant amounts of ore, can also generate acid and toxic contamination. The dumping of mine tailings and waste rock pollutes waters around the world, threatening the drinking water, food supply and health of communities as well as aquatic life and ecosystems.

Read the full report: Troubled Waters

5 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

5 responses to “Papua New Guinea leads the world in mine pollution of waterways

  1. 6 August, 2013
    Marengo Mining, Sentient Group, Toronto, Canada, should design for the Yandera, Madang, PNG copper and molybdenum mine, for the mill and concentrator to be located up at the mine. Tailings disposal should be in lined containments up at the mine, and NOT by slurry pipeline down to the coast for dumping into the sea. They should design for an electrified single track railway, with turnouts, from Madang up to the mine, and not bulldoze a road through the tropical forest to the mine. Electrified single track mining railways have been used extensively in Brazil and Malaysia, in places with similar climates to Madang. An electrified single track mining railway, with turnouts would require much less land, and much more narrow right of way, and be much less polluting than a road bulldozed through the forest up to the mine.
    My understanding is a 500 megawatts LNG liquid natural gas fired, gas turbines power station will be built at Madang. This new power station could provide the PNG Power grid power for the electrified single track mining railway up to the Yandera mine.
    Your newsletter is great. Thank you for doing this.

  2. FIDELIS

    We need more MPs to help us get ownership of oyr traditional land and enact tougher laws to penalise the developers if any environmental destruction is made.

  3. The law which BHP drafted and passed by Parliament making BHP not responsible for its ‘ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME’ We shall fight against it anyway possible in our life time and of those to come. But for now, is there a way to start a legal action?

  4. Loss of Customary Water Rights.

    The Strickland & Dumbudu river pollution and the environmental damages by the illegal use of our rightfully owned river system has the denied the rights of the river landowners of their Customary Water use rights since 1989 till now.

    Our rights were denied because of the National Government’s failure to carry out its duty to inform the poor landowners before the approval of various water use permits for PJV on the effects of mine tailings, sediments and mine derived wastes on the environment, river system and the landowners living along the river system.

    The denial has led to many sufferings and frustrations by the innocent river landowners who relied on the river for their daily activities. Due to the pollution and environmental damages, the landowners could no longer enjoy these rights and as a result have suffered loss and frustrations and some of their customary water rights are lost forever.

    Health Related Problems.

    The river landowners along each section of the river have experienced a lot of health problems that they have never experienced in their life time. Some form of skin irritation diseases were faced by the landowners who used the polluted river for transport, swimming and even eating fish caught in the polluted river.
    Many landowners have died due to these problems since 1990 and till now and they continue to suffer and die in their remote villages that have no access to health services.

    Nothing these facts , people have suffered greatly due to Department of Environment and Conservation and other responsible state agencies negligence.

    Affected communities living along Strickland and Dumbudu river areas now waiting for Hela Provincial Government to look in to these allegations immediately before Barrick PJV exit by selling its 95% shares. Department has continuously ignored our plea to date , HPG to step in and do something to help ol taragu lo ples.
    This issue is prolong issue so its time for Hela Provincial government to step in and do something inorder to avoid company sell its stakes of 95% to interested company. I have verbally approached with Hela Provincial government and I also wrote to them but they continuously fail to address my environmental damages and River pollution issues.
    TALK ACT ENVIRONMENT WAY! Kulinist Strickland Resource Holders Association Secretary

  5. Mano BarnabasUPNGESG

    A need for environmental protection law is required in the developing country like Papua New Guinea. We cannot prevent or stop the extractions and development revolution from occurring, it is the backbone for civilization for our sovereign state. The only step is to rectify on all signed chemical, pollutant,degradation and economic resource law for a recovery and successful environmental governance in the country.Resource laws had to be revived, 50% share must be given to the country that is to be saved as stabilization fund in sovereign wealth. A strong compliance and enforcement is something PNG Governance had to take on in order to approach sustainable environmental economy in the future.
    God Bless PNG!

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