MCC has done it again. Putting the cart before the horse as they ran for the chromite and failed to put in place infrastructure to ease the safe dispatch of the mineral in Madang province.
Who said extracting and exposing chromite to wind and rain wasn’t going to pose any risk? Didn’t someone from the Department of Environment and Conservation tell MCC to leave the chromite in the ground or to bury it once extracted?
MCC just could not leave this precious metal in the ground and so has produced 160,000 tonnes this year and estimates an annual production of the same for the next couple of years.
The current plan to transport the ore to Madang is by open trucks over poor rugged road conditions of more than 130 kilometers and through Madang town. Truck drivers and those handling the mineral including security forces will be wearing masks during the operation. MCC plans to move the current piled minerals at night for the next six months.
Question is why the hurry if thousands of lives are at risk? Why is MCC not planning on using its port at Basamuk about 135 kilometers from the production site in Kurumbukare? It is understandable access to Basamuk by road is difficult without bridges and fast flowing rivers carrying huge boulders. An option however, would be to transport the chromite via the pipeline, which is currently used for nickel and cobalt transportation. This option reduces the risk on the local population and the environment.
Initially this mineral was to be buried in the ground while wharfing facilities were ready for use at Vidar. These facilities have yet to be built and it seems the only way to safety would be to take the risk and transport through Madang town.